Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) is the fourth studio album by American rock band Marilyn Manson, released in November 2000 through Nothing and Interscope Records. The album marked a return to the industrial and alternative metal style of the band's earlier efforts, after the modernized glam rock sound of Mechanical Animals. As their first release following the Columbine High School massacre of April 20, 1999, Holy Wood served as Marilyn Manson's rebuttal to the accusations leveled against them in the wake of that incident. The band's frontman, Marilyn Manson, described the record as &a declaration of war&.
A rock opera concept album, it is the final installment in a trilogy that includes Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals. After its release Manson revealed that the overarching story within the trilogy is presented in reverse chronological order; Holy Wood, therefore, begins the story. It was written in the singer's former home in the Hollywood Hills and recorded in several &undisclosed& locations, including Death Valley and Laurel Canyon.
Upon its release Holy Wood received mixed to positive reviews, with many critics noting that, while ambitious, it was lacking in execution. Initially the album was not as commercially successful as the group's two previous outings, taking three years to attain a gold certification from the RIAA. Nevertheless, with worldwide sales of over 9 million copies as of 2011, it has become one of the most successful of their career. It spawned three singles and an abandoned film project that was modified into the as-yet unreleased Holy Wood novel. Marilyn Manson supported the album with the controversial Guns, God and Government Tour.
On November 10, 2010, British rock magazine Kerrang! published a 10th-anniversary commemorative piece in which they called the album &Manson's finest hour ... A decade on, there has still not been as eloquent and savage a musical attack on the media and mainstream culture ... [It is] still scathingly relevant [and] a credit to a man who refused to sit and take it, but instead come out swinging.& (wiki)
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
In 2000, Marilyn Manson not only was recovering from his fans' rejection of Mechanical Animals, he was scarred from Columbine and, worst of all, he was no longer America's demon dog. What was Brian Warner to do, standing on such uneasy ground? As a smart man and savvy marketer, he knew that it was time to consolidate his strengths, blend Omega with Antichrist Superstar, and return with a harsh, controversial, operatic epic: a vulgar concept album to seduce his core audiences of alienated teens and cultural cops. The resulting album, Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death), is intended as the third part of the trilogy beginning with Antichrist Superstar, and its convoluted story line is fairly autobiographical, but the amazing thing isn't the story -- it's that he figured out to meld the hooks and subtle sonic shading of Mechanical Animals with the ugly, neo-industrial metallicisms of Antichrist. Consequently, it's easy to see this as the definitive Marilyn Manson album, since it's tuneful and abrasive. Then again, much of its charm lies in Manson trying so hard, perfecting details in the concept, lyrics, themes, production, sequencing, the tarot card parodies in the liner notes, the self-theft, the self-consciously blasphemous cover art. There's so much effort, Holy Wood winds up a stronger and more consistent album than any of his other work. If there's any problem, it's that Manson's shock rock seems a little quaint in 2000. Eminem's vibrant, surrealistic white-trash fantasias were the sound of 2000, while Marilyn Manson's rock operas, religious baiting, and goth gear are from an era passed. It's to Warner's credit as, yes, an artist that Holy Wood works anyway.