Marilyn Manson – ‘The Pale Emperor’ [Review]
Back in the glory days of alt-metal, Marilyn Manson was a massive deal. Nobody else has managed to combine over-the-top religious-Right-baiting showmanship with fierce intelligence and raging, in-your-face rock in the same manner Manson did around the turn of the millennium. But after 2003’s The Golden Age Of Grotesque, things took an awkward turn with a series of albums that even the most dedicated Manson fangirl I knew refused to listen to more than once because they just didn’t have the same energy, the all-consuming fire which fuelled Antichrist Superstar, Mechanical Animals, and Holy Wood.
On The Pale Emperor, that fire is not only back, but firmly under Manson’s control. There are plenty of dynamic peaks and troughs scattered throughout The Pale Emperor‘s blighted depths, and the whole thing breathes like an old blues record. Where Manson’s last few albums felt watered down, The Pale Emperor feels restrained – and all the more vital and thrilling for it.
Those with fond memories of fucking in time to I Want To Kill You Like They Do In The Movies will no doubt become tumescent on hearing Killing Strangers, and Slave Only Dreams To Be King wouldn’t sound out of place on Antichrist Superstar; but this is no mere nostalgia trip, rather a pronounced step into the future. The Pale Emperor feels like a blend of the best parts of Manson’s back catalogue combined with a new, fresh, and mature vital essence. Marilyn Manson is clearly not keen on becoming the Y Generation’s Iron Maiden.
Manson circa 2015 is a highly evolved artistic force, and the evidence is right here: Deep Six heralds the arrival proper of Manson v.9; Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge combines grungy grit with swampy atmospherics; The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles and The Devil Beneath My Feet are all lo-fi fuzz bass, howling guitars, and incredible hooks; Warship My Wreck threatens to implode at any moment; Birds Of Hell Awaiting merges Numanesque synths and a Zeppelin-style rhythmic strut; Cupid Carries A Gun is a slice of pure sleaze; and Odds Of Even finishes things off with a grim and chilling funeral dirge. Variety and quality without compromise; this is Manson at his best.
Overall, to say that every track on The Pale Emperor is top-drawer would not be an act of sycophancy, but rather a statement of plain-spoken fact. It’s good to be able to say that about a Marilyn Manson album again.
TMMP RATING: 91%
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