The "death of heavy metal," as reported a few years ago, was a hoax. Consider the evidence: Lollapalooza '96 features Metallica and an all-testosterone supporting line-up. BMG signs a deal to distribute CMC International, the independent label that features acts like Warrant, Motorhead and Slaughter. And one of the hottest-selling acts in America is Marilyn Manson, which has the riffage, the volume, the posturing, the dark vision and the androgynous-wild-man glam of the most over-the-top '80s metal band. Sure, the band's metal is tempered with echoes of industrial ancestors like Ministry and (of course) Nine Inch Nails, and there are moody interludes to pump up the self-loathing darkness. But today's 16-year-old Marilyn Manson fan would have been yesterday's 16-year-old W.A.S.P. fan; there's no question about that. As for Antichrist Superstar, it's 70-plus minutes of anguished roaring and pseudo-Satanic posing: The album is just as dumb as its two predecessors, but overall it's a generous collection that delivers exactly what it purports to deliver. Fans will go nuts for it. Even dumber than Antichrist Superstarbut a lot more fun to listen tois Manowar's new Louder Than Hell. From the Conan-style cover art (which depicts an impossibly muscle-bound figure smashing his shackles) to the irony-free song titles ("The Gods Made Heavy Metal," et al), Louder Than Hell is over-the-top, self-parodic, occasionally theatrical and always ludicrously enjoyable. You want further evidence that metal is back? Louder Than Hell is Manowar's first album since signing with big-time major-label Geffen. "The gods made heavy metal / and they saw that it was good! / They said to play it louder than hell / We promised that we would!" Awesome!