Manic Street Preachers: Gold Against the Soul – Deluxe Edition (Columbia/Sony) - Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, March 21st, 2023  

Gold Against the Soul – Deluxe Edition


Jun 22, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Ask any Manic Street Preachers fan to name their favorite album and it’s unlikely that Gold Against the Soul will be their answer. Nevertheless, it remains one of those records that holds a special place in many aficionados hearts despite never receiving the plaudits afforded to its predecessor or successor. So, a long overdue reappraisal is both timely and deserving.

As with Generation Terrorists, it has its flaws yet is a natural progression from the band’s debut. The record not only further highlights the lyrical prowess of both Richey Edwards and his co-conspirator Nicky Wire, but also it demonstrates just what an incredible singles band the Manics were and still are.

Originally released in the summer of 1993, Gold Against the Soul arrived amidst a musical landscape that shifted from dance-infused indie to the heavier sounds of grunge and the nostalgic chimes of Britpop.

While many of their contemporaries were already eyeing the next bandwagon to gatecrash, the Manics were content with their classic rock sound. The three-piece went on tour with Bon Jovi in ’93, previously citing Guns ’n’ Roses as a formative influence, which is apparent from the introductory bars of Gold Against the Soul’s opening track “Sleepflower.” One of the most recognizable riffs in the Manics’ exemplary canon, it’s a quintessential representation of James Dean Bradfield’s virtuoso guitar skills, channeling the spirit of both Slash and James Hetfield. This was the first time they had enlisted producer Dave Eringa, whose services they continued to use over the next quarter century.

There’s a sense of multi-textured trepidation throughout the entire album, which is palpable in staple singles such as “From Despair to Where” and “La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh).” The former takes the band’s glam rock obsession another step further, whereas the latter dabbles in baggier stylistics. Both attained impressive chart placings, as did “Roses in the Hospital,” a song that namechecks “Rudie Can’t Fail” by The Clash above an AOR backline. Though often overlooked, single “Life Becoming a Landslide” is arguably the most poignant four minutes on the album, with Bradfield mournfully declaring, “I don’t want to be a man” in desolation.

“Yourself” and “Drug Drug Druggy” display the personal side of Edwards that is perhaps not reflected on Generation Terrorists. Ambiguous yet revealing, these tracks still maintained radio-friendly, commercial viability that was designed to be heard in stadiums worldwide.

Probably the strongest criticism of this album is that it loses momentum and trails off towards the end. With the benefit of hindsight, B-side “Patrick Bateman” and their 1992 cover of the M.A.S.H. theme song “Suicide Is Painless” would have improved the quality barometer somewhat. Even still, the album remains a hallmark of its time that doesn’t sound outdated 27 years later.

The deluxe edition’s most commendable feature is the 120-page book of handwritten lyrics and previously unseen photos by Mitch Ikeda. The music itself is spread across two CDs, the first being the full-length album, and the second a collection of unreleased demos, a live recording of “Yourself,” and a Chemical Brothers “Vocal Remix” of “La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh).”

As albums go, Gold Against the Soul might not be perfect or come to define the band in the same way as The Holy Bible and Everything Must Go, but it’s stood the test of time, and this deluxe reissue invites the listener to revisit a great lost gem in Manic Street Preachers’ exquisite back catalogue. (

Author rating: 9/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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