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Marilyn Manson – [Album]

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Tuesday, 01 May 2012

Marilyn Manson, the man who still makes my mother shudder in disgust well over a decade after she was first subjected to the nightmare-ish visuals of the video for “The Beautiful People,” is back in the saddle and has just released his eighth full length album under the title Born Villain. After a run of mediocre releases and a lack of “shocking” material spanning almost a decade, it seems most of those horrified mothers have more or less shaken off Manson as a bad dream. They my have thought they were safe, but now Born Villain is here to put the fear back into their hearts and, more importantly, to rock harder than any Manson album since the early 2000s.

As a twenty-six year old Marilyn Manson fan, I feel like I am undoubtedly part of a dying breed. I’ve known some of his songs since Antichrist Superstar was released, but it was with Holy Wood (In The Shadow Of The Valley of Death) that I became a true fan. I fell in love with the twisted and tortured tone of the album which really stood out from the heavily electronic feel of his previous release, Mechanical Animals. Browsing the web after the new album leaked in late April, I was surprised at the amount of positive feedback; usually the internet is little more than a sordid den of trolls feigning hatred over whatever is new and attractive. I couldn’t help but wonder if all of these newbie promoters were a bunch of wall-punching, angst-ridden “tweenagers” who jumped on the bandwagon to piss their parents off as well as the religious right, and anyone else who ever thought Marilyn Manson was an actual threat to society. Luckily for this young yet aging Manson fan though, once I got my hands on a copy, the web was proven right.

I can state without a doubt in my mind that Born Villain is the darkest and angriest album MM has put out since Holy Wood was released in 2000. It’s a little sad to make such an admission because, really, what is Marilyn Manson if not angry? In the Nineties, Manson's albums gave me the feeling of being tied up, gagged and forced to watch violent bondage films while all of the other albums that the singer released in the new millennium gave me the feeling of watching someone sit in an unlit corner crying. In 2012? Bring on the bondage, baby! Okay, okay, maybe not that extreme – I mean the man is forty-three years old for fuck’s sake. He’s fought battles with his own self-perception as well as the entire world’s perception of him, and now he’s back. The music video for Born Villain’s first single, “No Reflection,” illustrates what I’m talking about perfectly as it flashes back and forth between an unmasked, clean-faced Manson (or Brian Warner perhaps?) and the classically done-up horror show that is the King of Shock. The chorus chants, “I don’t know which me that I love,” as he sits around a family dinner table with a few women. Everything seems somewhat calm as Manson slowly rises and boards the door. All hell breaks loose as the lyrics spout, “You don’t even want to know what I’m gonna do to you,” while the girls smash everything, with trying to commit suicide and one being drowned in a toilet by Manson himself. All in all, the video reminded me of the good ol’ days of MM with a slightly more personal twist on things.

Born Villain is laid out like your average major label album in that it's front-loaded with the most radio-friendly tracks. However, the main difference between this album and most major label albums (this isn’t on a major label, by the way) is that the second half of the album doesn’t totally suck. “Hey, Cruel World” starts off the album with a bang, followed by “No Reflection.” One of the sexiest (yes, Manson has sexy songs) on the album is “Slo-mo-tion.” Now, before you all crucify me, the song is very sexy instrument-wise – but the lyrics are a bit… different. It’s a song about the disgusting habits of modern television with lines like “Don’t worry, we’ll blur it out and no one will ever know” and “pump up the laughter of dead-audience applause and teenage rape candidates, I think we’ve got a real hit!” The juxtaposition of the pretty music against the ugly lyrics makes for a fantastic track. Other greats on the album are “The Flowers of Evil,” which has a damned catchy chorus, and “Murderers Are Getting Prettier Every Day.” The latter of those is the most metal of all the tracks, double-kicks pummeling through the track with only a small break for a death-march section bridging the insanity. “Children of Cain” is one of those tracks which brings me back to the Holy Wood days: heavy, serious, and depressing in the best way possible. If you’re not impressed by anything else you’ve read so far, Johnny Depp makes an appearance on the album — and everyone loves Johnny Depp, right? — supporting the Manson crew on a cover of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.”

Being in the position that I’m in — non-pierced body, non-dyed hair, lightly tattooed, twenty-six and happy — I feel a bit strange sometimes when I admit to friends and acquaintances that I am a Marilyn Manson fan. When his last two albums were real snoozers, I had begun to assume that referring to him as a current artist was inaccurate because of that I thought great Manson music was a thing of the past — but Born Villain has proven me to be dead wrong. Don’t write off Marilyn just yet — he clearly has some greatness left in him.

Further Reading:
Ground Control –
Other Voices 001 – featuring Born Villian by Marilyn Manson – [Column]

Artist:

www.marilynmanson.com/
www.myspace.com/marilynmanson
www.facebook.com/MarilynManson
www.twitter.com/#!/marilynmanson

Album:

Born Villain
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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Marilyn Manson – [Album]

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Sunday, 31 May 2009

There are a dozen perfectly plausible reasons why Marilyn Manson's stature in both pop music and pop culture has depreciated so dramatically over the last decade or so. It could be that, after the classic line-up of the band imploded (shortly after Holy Wood in 2000), the pieces just weren't aligning properly and singer Brian Warner floundered because he was left all too much to his own devices. It could be that, after George W. Bush took office, Manson's audience became distracted by the president's higher-profile atrocities that were far more vivid than anything that anyone in pop (including Marilyn Manson) could possibly conjure or imagine. It could have been a combination of those things plus the band's painfully evident inability to recombine their pop hooks, glam metal irony and playfully morbid proclivities into good songs. Regardless, the last nine years have found Marilyn Manson committing the cardinal sin for a band that lives and dies by its ability to shake, shock and repel: they've been boring.

2007's Eat Me, Drink Me was the rock bottom point for Marilyn Manson. Without a band, Warner limped his way through his own sort of re-enactment of Alice In Wonderland but did neither that storyline nor his own reputation any justice; use the euphemism you like, the self-styled “God of Fuck” was either shooting blanks or went limp the whole record through – it was sad.

Was the band aware of this? On some level, Warner must have had an idea of the stock he'd lost and that the public eye was turning away, because The High End Of Low earnestly attempts to recapture some of that errant attention.

That process is a slow and methodical one. “Devour” literally crawls forth out of the mire – all instrumental creaks and vocal croaks – and starts with ambiance first (despair is in the air) before attempting to present the band's revamped image. From there, each successive track adds another layer of skin and renewed depravity to the atrophied body of Marilyn Manson; “Pretty As A ($)” adds avarice and a slimy, fetid, glamorous sheen, but it's only getting started as they pick up the gauntlet dropped to try and save themselves. After that, while the band's strength is certainly well below half-mast, the reappearance of Twiggy Ramirez helps musically as the pending doom mounts through “Like A Scar” and the acoustic, Depeche Mode-esque “Four Rusted Horses,” but the steps back up the mountain are still very laden and plodding.

“Arma-godd**n-motherf**kin-geddon” is all the pay-off those fans left to rot by the band could possibly hope for. In that song, the pop swings and wriggles with a familiar, attractive sickness that is one hundred percent apocalyptic fluff but it's the sort of grim celebration that, with a set of hooks like fisherman's gaffes, Manson turned platinum a decade ago. Ironically, that gives hope for the band's future.

After that surge forward, unfortunately there isn't a whole lot that The High End Of Low really does to sustain itself. While songs like “Black And White” and “I Want To Kill You Like They Do In The Movies” (which borrows bass vamps from Jane's Addiction) are perfectly respectable album cuts for Manson, the singles well dries up quickly and the album coasts to a close in spite of featuring great song titles like “I Have To Look Up Just To See Hell.” The second half of the record isn't bad per se, it's just that with a dramatic shortage of singles beyond “Arma-godd**n…” the album could have been pared down to an EP's-worth of really sharp material which would have had more impact; there's no arguing that The High End Of Low marks an improvement over Eat Me, Drink Me, but the album title is also an ironic statement in that, while better than its predecessor, it's still a long way from good. The High End Of Low shows promise, but saying that the album finds the band in fine form would be a monstrous overstatement.

Artist:

Marilyn Manson online

Marilyn Manson myspace

Album:

The High Side Of Low
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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