Marilyn Manson is easily one of the most interesting figures in the music industry. He’s a man, trying to deal like the rest of us, but he became extremely “controversial” as a result of how he’s different. In many ways. He’s not very masculine at all, and even wears make-up, but is, in fact, not LGBT. He’s an atheist, and makes this extremely clear in his music, even having an album called “Antichrist Superstar” and being an ordained minister of the Church of Satan (an atheist, not satanic organization.) Imagery in his music videos and even on the covers of his albums raise eyebrows to this day. He challenges the definition of talent - he has a nice vibrato, but doesn’t have a voice like many male 20-somthing pop stars today. He does, however funnel more passion, intelligent meanings, easily decipherable yet clever metaphors that teach life lessons, and most of all - work into his music than most other artists can truthfully claim to put into their own. His voice may be croaky, and his reminding-one-of-heavy-metal scream singing that set him apart from other artists in songs like “Irresponsible Hate Anthem” in the 90s may now sound like a dying cat (just being real, no hate intended), but his music will still leave you more willing to slit your wrists than listen to Justin Bieber afterwards.
For being so different, the man with “Brian Hugh Warner” on his birth certificate takes loads of shit. After the Columbine shooting, the mainstream media - not just Fox news - but the mainstream media as a whole perpetuated the ludicrous notion of Manson being responsible, ignoring the lack of evidence the shooters liked him, as well as the common-sensical fact that mentally-stable teens don’t go that far in obsessing over artists anyway. Despite appearing well worded, articulate, quick-witted, and more intelligent than most people in interviews, people seem to not be able to get over his cutting himself in early performances and gothic appearance, and many even go so far as label him as a “tool” - a completely unfounded belief.
Many also consider him the archetype of a “washed-up” artist. His 5th, 7th. and 8th albums, 2003’s The Golden Age of Grotesque, 2009’s The High End of Low, and, most recently, 2012’s Born Villain all received mixed reviews, in stark contrast to the generally positive feedback he saw for all the projects in his heyday (1996-2000) which also probably make up the vast majority of his 50 million records sold, and each lp since 2003 has sold less than the one preceding it. As a result of these statistics, this notion may have been idea that was starting to sink into Manson fans up until recently - as those products were lackluster, just listenable at best. But one of his recent singles - Deep Six, is his best-doing single since 2004 on some charts, and a single run-through of The Pale Emperor shows the Telegraph’s labeling of “wearingly abrasive” to hold less water than a cone with a hole in the bottom. On that note, let’s delve into the tracks.
Killing Strangers - Upon first listening to the opening track, it becomes clear that Manson is putting more passion into his new album than any other since 2000s Holywood - what many consider to be his last great classic. He sounds like - for lack of a better phrase - he wants to be here. The song has excellent, polished production that produces a feel that can be accurately described as a mixture of primarily Blues and Country, with just a hint of Industrial Rock. Different people will undoubtedly find different meanings in the lyrics, but, taken literally, the lyrics seem to be a mocking of American gun culture and conservatism. His singing in the verses will send chills down your back, and the bit after the chorus is sung for a second time: “we got guns, we got guns, motherfuckers better better, better run” is unrelentingly catchy no matter how you feel about guns. All of these factors make for a great recipe for a great song, and the fact that he’s lively and passionate throughout the whole song - an important thing, since we haven’t seen that very often from Manson in recent years - is icing on the already delicious cake. A 9.5/10 from me on this one.
Deep Six - The album overall has a bluesy feel, and the only real hyped up song here is Deep Six. As a mixture of dance rock, alternative rock, and alternative metal, this is the type of song that makes you get up and walk around- and maybe even dance and headbang a little- while you’re listening to it. The lyrics “love is evol, con is confidence, eros is sore, sin is sincere” are just genius, I must add as well. Overall, it’s a decent addition to the album that provides a good danceable track, and it gets a 9.5/10 from me as well.
Third Day of a Seven Day Binge - The glam rocky 1st single off of the album has a mouthful of a title, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a very decent song. It addresses relationship problems - with whom is not revealed. This song, like the first two, is full of passion and energy, and while I personally consider the lyrics too generic for it to be considered a highlight on the album, many people who are experiencing similar things at the moment will really appreciate it. 9/10 here.
The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles - To start off, the title of this is song is very clever. Mephistopheles is a demon from German folklore that collects the souls of the already damned. Using this fact, the title of this song roughly translates into “The Demon Among the Angles.” As for the song itself, it has deep, meaningful, and relatable lyrics - everything one would expect from a good Manson song. His singing as well as the production are nice as well, and the song overall has no real obvious or glaring flaws. Aside from the title, it doesn’t have anything particularly memorable about it, however, so I’l give it a 9/10.
Warship My Wreck - Okay, this song requires a lot of appreciation of passion and effort to be enjoyable. It’s the first of only three really questionable songs on the album. The question you’re most likely to ask is:
“Why is this included among the rest of the great songs on the album??”
This is a result of the singing. There’s no denying that Manson’s singing is not what it used to be, but as I said earlier in the review, it’s overall good, and normally production and passion make up for what’s not there. But this really shows on Warship my Wreck. You honestly have to be a dedicated Manson fan capable of seeing the good things in even his sub-par work to really love this song. Also the title is pretty uncreative…. seriously, why not just “Worship My Wreck?”
All that aside, the concept is good, and the song is perhaps full of more emotion than any other song here. But, if you’re trying to get someone to listen to Marilyn Manson, this is not the song to play for them. I’ll give it a 7.5/10.
Slave Only Dreams to be King - The self proclaimed “God of Fuck” makes a pretty good point here. People often don’t dream of being free from certain things, rather they dream of being in charge. But other than the chorus, the rest of this song is below average as well. His singing is decent, but a lack of creative lyrics is what really hurts the track. It has a nice beat and vibe, mixing industrial rock with the blues once again, however, so I’ll give it that and an 8.8/10.
The Devil Beneath My Feet - You’ll want to sing along to this song. Manson again utilizes the word “Motherfucker” to create an extremely catchy pre-chorus. “Don’t need a motherfucker lookin’ down on me, motherfucker lookin’ down on me”, and you’ll also try to sing “‘least I know, wherever I go, I got the Devil Beneath my feet” as well. This is the type of song you find yourself singing to yourself as you’re doing something one or two days later. It’s glam-rockey, like “Third Day,” yet has a bluesy undertone, has meaningful lyrics, and is an all around highlight on the album. 9.8/10.
Birds of Hell Awaiting - Here we have the third and final “questionable” song on the album. What really bugs me about this one is that he repeats the same few lines over and over again throughout the entire song. The production is good, it has a glammy feel, and Manson’s singing is good. There just isn’t enough lyrical diversity throughout the track for the song itself to be good. I feel like this could’ve been a highlight track, but it just ends up being boring. A disappointing 7/10 for a disappointing song.
Cupid Carries a Gun, Odds of Even - Cupid Carries a Gun, the third and final single which preceded the album, and Odds of Even, the closing track, are placed well. If these came right after “The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles,” they most likely wouldn't be appreciated as much as they deserve. That’s the one really good thing about having a little bit of filler on the album, it makes the last two tracks stand out.
As for the songs themselves, they’re easily the two best songs on the album. Cupid Carries a Gun is a close second to the overall best, Odds of Even. They both feature Manson’s best singing, production, and lyricism not just on this album, but in a long time. The amazing quality of these last two tracks is inexplicable. I’m not even going to ruin it by attempting to convey to you how they sound, other than just saying they’re epic songs. These are must-listen-10/10s.
And that’s the album. A mixture of primarily The Blues and Glam Rock, with hints of Industrial Rock, Marilyn Manson brings something truly interesting to the table that is bound to go down as one of the best. When listing Warner’s best works, just listing Antichrist Superstar, Mechanical Animals, and Holywood will no longer suffice. You’ll need to, from this day forward, list those three, and The Pale Emperor.
Great/Outstanding/Memorable in a Good Way Tracks: Killing Strangers, Deep Six, The Devil Beneath My Feet, Cupid Carries a Gun, Odds of Even.
Average/Good but Forgettable Tracks: Third Day of a Seven Day Binge, The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles
Bad/”Questionable”/Boring/Filler Tracks: Warship My Wreck, Slave Only Dreams to Be King, Birds of Hell Awaiting
Overall Rating: 93/100.