Celebrate one of the best albums of all time
Andrew Trendell

13:15 23rd September 2014

After over a year of speculation, Manic Street Preachers will tour their 1994 masterpiece The Holy Bible in full this December. The Manics have always been an 'albums band', and this is a body of work that must be appreciated in full.

The Holy Bible is a body of work like no other. Casting a horrified eye over subjects such as the prostitution of the self ('Yes'), Richey Edwards' depression ('Die In The Summertime'), the inherent evil of man ('Of Walking Abortion'), anorexia ('4st 7lbs'), capital punishment ('Archives Of Pain'), the atrocities of the Holocaust ('The Intense Humming Of Evil') and even orgies in the Kremlin ('Revol') - all within 56 white-knuckle minutes.

So, as the band prepare to revisit their crowning moment, we've ranked the tracks in order of greatness. Now, as the Manics would say, "give them the respect they D.E.S.E.R.V.E."

  • 13. 'She Is Suffering': Written as a twisted interpretation of The Police's 'Every Breath You Take', the track explores what Richey Edwards described as "Desire. In other bibles and holy books, no truth is possible until you empty yourself of desire. All commitment otherwise is fake/lies/economic convenience." While the weakest track on the LP, it's still a towering accomplishment of warped post-punk.

  • 12. 'Mausoleum': Inspired after a visit to former concentration camps Dachau and Belsen, 'Mausoleum' details the horror of the Holocaust - with the chilling refrain in the chorus of 'No birds, no birds, the sky is swollen black - holy mass of dead insect'.

  • 11. 'The Intense Humming Of Evil': Any track introduced by audio extracts from the Nuremberg Trials is going to shock. This track alone reflects the nature of The Holy Bible - four souls staring at the world and seeing nothing but murder, the sheer horror tearing sound inside out: "6 Million screaming souls, Maybe misery - maybe nothing at all, Lives that wouldn't have changed a thing, Never counted - never mattered - never be."

  • 10. '4st 7lbs': "I eat too much to die, and not enough to stay alive," says the opening sample taken from anorexic documentary Caraline's Story - kicking off a military beat as the track delves into Edwards' warped stasis as he sought control through 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."

  • 9. 'This Is Yesterday': Nicky Wire is largely responsible for the lyrics, and accompanied by Bradfield's pining vocal makes for a a track that is schizophrenically comforting and chillingly prophetic, giving insight into the band's own inner turmoil and conflict: "Someone somewhere soon will take care of you - I repent, I'm sorry, everything is falling apart."

  • 8. 'Revol': We challenge you to find a better or more infectious song about group-sex in the Kremlin, let alone one capable of charting at No.22.

  • 7. 'PCP': A relentless live favourite, loaded with so many words and references that you can't help but crack a smile at the closing "227 lears and I can't remember the first line." It also contains Edwards' exquisite mantra: "BE PURE, BE VIGILANT, BEHAVE."

  • 6. 'Die In The Summertime': A song dealing with Edwards decline into self-harm and the waking coma of depression with a hair-raising Cure-esque post-punk soundtrack to match. It resonates both the band's staunch individuality at the time, and the fact that they were riddled with doubts: "Colour my hair but the dye grows out, I can't seem to stay a fixed ideal."

  • 5. 'Archives Of Pain': "I would say that 'Archives Of Pain' is one of Richey's most chillingly brave lyrics," Wire told Gigwise earlier this year. Touching on the glorification of serial killers and seemingly advocating capital punishment, it deals with human beings' fascination with murder, with Bradfield's crowning achievement of a backing track that sounds like boiling battery acid.

  • 4. 'Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'sworldwouldfallapart': "It's one of the best modern drum tracks," James Dean Bradfield told us - and he's not wrong. With a fitting machine gun beat, Sean Moore charges the track with the bile that would set the standard for the rest of the record, as the lyrics tell a tale of racial injustice that are as true in Ferguson today as they were in the Manics' studio in 1994: " Compton - Harlem - a pimp fucked a priest, The white man has just found a new moral saviour, Vital stats - how white was their skin? / Unimportant - just another inner-city drive-by thing"

  • 3. 'Of Walking Abortion': "There's a worm in human nature that makes us want to be dominated," said Wire of this track, blaming right-wing totalitarianism on the people themselves. It's a growling menace of a track, enough to make Damon Albarn piss his Britpop tracksuit as Bradfield howls: "WHO'S RESPONSIBLE? YOU FUCKING ARE"

  • 2. 'Faster': The song that sets up the manifesto to the album. From John Hurt uttering "I hate purity, I hate goodness, I want everyone corrupt" to the band's deeply-ingrained drive to remain more cultured that anyone despite the ever-accelerating shallowness of modern culture: "I am an architect, they call me a butcher...I know I believe in nothing, but it is my nothing."

  • 1. 'Yes': "You crazy fucker, how do I write music for this?" thought Bradfield when Edwards handed him the lyrics to what would become one of the greatest opening tracks in rock history. An anthem for anyone who's ever felt cheapened by the self-prostitution by doing just what it takes to get by, the Manics crowning moment comes in this firey number that states we're all whores, and that 'everything is for sale'.

Photo: Press/Sony Music