Manic Street Preachers
2. Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruth foronedayitsworldwouldfallapart
3. Of Walking Abortion
4. She Is Suffering
5. Archives Of Pain
7. 4st 7lb
10. This Is Yesterday
11. Die In The Summertime
12. The Intense Humming Of Evil
Far removed from the likes of the band’s subsequent, uncharacteristically sunny britpop albums, The Holy Bible is easily the most harrowing, intense album The Manic Street Preachers will ever be associated with. With rhythm guitarist/lyricist Richey James’ slow descent into alcoholism, anorexia and madness which would culminate in his February 1st, 1995, disappearance (he was presumed dead in 2002), and the overall disinterest with the which the public received their political outbursts and disturbing publicity stunts, the band holed themselves up in a studio in the red light district of their home country of Wales, penning thirteen of some of the most urgent, angry, paranoiac, and chillingly personal songs of their career.
The music, a tight mixture of hard rock energy, post punk darkness, glammy dynamics and punk urgency, while dynamic and surprisingly catchy, is often downplayed in favor of Richey James’ personal and social commentary and bassist Nicky Wire’s political proselytizing, delivered with emotion by frontman/lead guitarist James Dean Bradfield. Opening song “Yes”, which features a deceptively clever opening guitar line, deals with prostitution in every sense of the word (“For $200 anyone can concieve a God on video”), while “Of Walking Abortion”, with its strong political stance, seems to say that we are all part of the same shitpile (“We are all of walking abortion, shalom shalom, God loves his Children”). By far the most haunting song on the album (and one of the greatest rock songs of the early 90s, I might add) is the intensely personal “4st 7lb”, an unflinching account of Richey James’ own battle with anorexia (“I want to walk in the snow and not leave a footprint. I want to walk in the snow and not soil its purity/such beautiful dignity in self-abuse. I’ve finally come to understand life through staring blankly at my navel”). The band wanders into Killing Joke’s territory on “Faster”, with Bradfield perfectly emulating the Jaz Coleman bark. “Die in the Summertime” rings eerily prophetic given James’ disappearance after the album’s release. “This is Yesterday” seems to be the one serene track on the album, despite its depressing lyrical content (“I stare at the sky and it leaves me blind”).
After James’ disappearance, the band would go on to veritable megastardom throughout the UK and Europe, even scoring a little rotation on American radio in 1999, somewhat cheapening and watering down their music in the process. The fact of the matter is that The Holy Bible is the one Manic Street Preachers album that should be owned by all.
Review by Alec A. Head
Review date: 05/2004