Released in 1994, The Holy Bible by the Manic Street Preachers is often regarded as one of the darkest albums ever made. When you look at the subject matters on the album, it’s with good reason. With topics ranging from abortion, self-harm and eating disorders to name a few, it shows the beauty of music in all its forms. As with life itself, it’s not always going to be sunshine and happiness. Music can sometimes feel like it’s unable talk about the extremes in life, which is something The Holy Bible manages to do in such a powerful way.
Richey Edwards wrote the majority of the lyrics on the album. With a well-documented history of mental health problems, these are evident with The Holy Bible. An incredibly bleak album at times, it indicates the state of mind of someone who was not in a good place.
Before you even listen, you are faced with the album art, featuring the triptych Strategy (south face/front face/north face) by Jenny Saville. Which may make some people feel uncomfortable even before it plays, as the cover is very in your face. Yet for me this adds to the album’s brilliance.
Personally, I discovered The Holy Bible at a time when I needed something that spoke to me about the pain I was feeling. My father had died the previous year and I was not in a good place. I needed something that was angry, confrontational and in your face. The Holy Bible delivers that and more.
For a while, the album became my therapy in some ways as I could relate to the emotions of the lyrics. It got me through some pretty tough times and I will always be grateful for discovering it.
To say I am a Manic Street Preachers fan would be a bit like saying Scotland are not very good at football, a massive understatement. So people may think I’m just saying this from a fan’s perspective. But for me The Holy Bible is nothing short of a masterpiece and definitely one of the best, and maybe most important albums of the last 30 years.
When released in 1994, few artists really did music with the intensity of The Holy Bible. Yet some could argue that since the album’s release 25 years ago, no music has managed what The Holy Bible achieved. There was such a contrast in musical styles at the time of its release. 1994 was at the middle of Britpop and this album was definitely not Britpop.
If you say The Holy Bible is one of your favourite albums, people make assumptions about you because of the subject matter involved. Yet for me, that’s where its beauty lies. It’s an album that doesn’t shy away from difficult subject matters and demands a response from the listener. Take the lyric, ‘Who’s responsible – you fucking are’ from Of Walking Abortion. It could be about anything in life. From the terrible actions of world leaders and governments, to something every day that has gone wrong, if you want to simplify the idea.
It doesn’t really matter when The Holy Bible was released, be it 1994 or 2019 it would be a controversial album given the subject matters. Now especially, given that everyone seemingly likes to take offence at the slightest thing, rightly or wrongly?
Not just a brilliant album, but also an important one. As Richey Edwards’ lyrics illustrate the state of mind of someone struggling and their coping methods. Whether it was self-harm or controlled eating. It was unusual to see these lyrics being created by a man especially in the 1990s. The album says a lot of things that were probably associated with the female state of mind rather than the human psyche as a whole and the album probably helped some people feel less alone, that someone else felt all these thoughts and feelings as well.
The Holy Bible is one of those albums that perfectly describe the range of emotions a person can feel. More music should make you feel like this and make you remember that whatever you feel, that is ok and valid. 25 years later, The Holy Bible remains as important as the year of its release and maybe even more so. With the rise of social media, more people say they feel isolated and alone. So in a supposedly social world, where more people feel left behind, the lyrics remain as important now as back then.
I personally, will always be grateful for discovering this masterpiece of music.