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Korn/Marilyn Manson 

Greatest Hits Vol. 1 (Epic/Immortal)/Lest We Forget:The Best Of(Interscope)

Aside from dangerous hairdos and declining sales, what really unites Korn and Marilyn Manson is that they were among the first hard-rock icons to embrace their wimp status. "Tell me I'm a pussy and you're harder than me," Jonathan Davis hissed on "Clown," from Korn's self-titled debut. Likewise, "Lunchbox," from Manson's first album, was an anthem for anyone who's ever had his underwear pulled over his head.

Both tracks are found on these new greatest-hits albums, which chronicle the many contradictions among two of the top-selling groups of the past decade. If Korn amounts to a bunch of sad-eyed, underloved head cases on wax, in person they stalk the stage with chests out and nuts in hand. Manson declares himself one of "The Nobodies" in song, then assaults magazine editors for not putting him on the cover.

But the friction between their real and imagined identities ultimately served them well. Korn, in particular, can make a strong case for being the most vital rock band of the past 10 years, thanks to Davis's hyperventilating mumble, Fieldy Arvizu's seismic bass, and James "Munky" Shaefer and Brian "Head" Welch's elastic guitar interplay. From being the first all-white band to get rap-rock right ("Shoots and Ladders") to setting the bar for dark, moody modern rock in the post-Reznor era ("Falling Away From Me"), Korn has been, over the course of six albums, as consistent as misery itself.

The same can't be said of Manson. He peaked with 2000's apocalyptic Holy Wood, which was deemed a stylistic regression by critics at the time, following his foray into extraterrestrial glam and fake boobies on 1998's Mechanical Animals. But Lest We Forget features four tracks from Wood, including "The Nobodies," Manson's last great moment: "We are the nobodies," he wails, "We wanna be somebodies/When we're dead, they'll know just who we are." When Manson's dead, they'll know he was the rock star who made at least one album too many.

More by Jason Bracelin

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