These are busy times for a self-declared horror, metal and science fiction afficionado. After spending much of last weekend recovering from my encounter with Blade Runner: 2049, no time was left to enjoy the new Marilyn Manson record. Luckily this weekend allowed more time for leisure, although my definition of leisure might differ slightly from the one used by most people. Instead of spending Friday night drinking myself into oblivion, I wrote part of a book chapter with Heaven Upside Down blasting in the background, my feet safely tucked into my favourite granny slippers.
This record has been a long time in the making. Originally it was scheduled for release on Valentine’s Day, and when nothing appeared, Manson fans across the globe collectively lost their shit. Over the next few months occasional videos and Instagram posts suggested that something was afoot, though the haziness and general difficult-to-understandedness of the material only increased the confusion.
A few weeks ago the first official music video was released, and I found it slightly underwhelming. Having listened to the full record, I’ve changed my opinion somewhat. Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first: I still don’t like the overreliance on violence and nude lassies. Lyrics like “I want you to kill for me” sound like something a sixteen year-old emo would say. My ownership of slippers suggests that this kind of rhetoric simply isn’t for me because I am now an old woman, and indeed I found some parts of the album a little bit blah.
That said, it has some great moments. The opening song hits you like a good old punch in the face and SAY10 has a fantastic swaggerish feel to it that I love. Manson sounds like he had a great time making this record, and as someone who prefers her favourite artists alive and happy rather than drugged out of their minds and depressed, I consider this a good thing. Although Manson is not traditionally know for his cheerfulness, and the album’s aggressive sound and lyrics are business as usual, the record as a whole feels breathes a lovely sense of fun.
Some reviewers have commented on its nostalgic feel and I tend to agree with them. Echoes of Antichrist Superstar are obvious and the album often sounds like Manson just dug out his old rubber underpants and is trying them on to see whether they still fit. I quite like this, it reminds me of when I first encountered his music, and gives me that warm fuzzy feeling you only get during a sound trip down memory lane. It might put some people off, particularly those who value experimentation and novelty, but there are plenty of suitable artists out there if you want to scratch that particular itch.
I love the bluesy feel of some of the songs on The Pale Emperor, and it’s safe to say you get very little of that on this album. It would be great if Manson would do some more of that at some point in the future, but then again, unpredictability is his shtick, so I’m not holding my breath. For now, he’s given his listeners a fun record with some great party anthems – at least, if your kind of party involves you, dressed in black, stomping around and banging your head.