As one of his generation’s most notorious rock stars, Marilyn Manson spent a fair amount of time scaring conservative America, shifting bucketloads of records, selling out arenas and headlining festivals worldwide. As a result of this, every new album is preceded by a lot of hype and expectation as to whether it will live up to the early albums that made him and the band such big names. Unfortunately, over the last few years, other projects seemed to have taken over and the albums seem to have lacked the focus or memorable tunes of earlier efforts, but this “The Pale Emperor”, the band’s ninth studio album has garnered a lot of favourable publicity in the weeks leading up to is release. Can this be the album that gets the band back up the billing again?
The first track, ‘Killing Strangers’ seems quite a strange choice to open with at first, a slow, quiet number that reminds you of more recent Nine Inch Nails material with its quite minimal sound. This is followed by ‘Deep Six’ which is the first big track of the album, which has a much more “Mechanical Animals” or even “Antichrist Superstar” feel, with is simple structure and catchy riff and chorus. This pattern is then repeated with the slow ‘Third Day Of A Seven day Binge’ and then for me the highlight of the album ‘Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles’, a classic Manson tune, which even has a little taste of ‘Beautiful People’ right at the start.
‘Warship My Wreck’ is a bit a weak spot on the album for me, maybe partly because it comes after such a strong song. The second half of the album adds some very different sounds into the record. ‘The Devil Beneath My Feet’ is a big step away from their usual style musically, again heading more towards NIN territory, but lyrically it is undeniably a Manson composition. There are also parts of some tracks here that have a slight American influence about them. The album closes with possibly one of the most chilled out tracks they have ever written in ‘Odds of Even’ ending “The Pale Emperor” in a very mellow way.
A very decent album, and it’s cool to see one of the big releases live up to expectations. It may not reach the heights of the first two or three albums, but it is easily their best work for maybe 10 years or more. Musically, slightly experimental but also very Marilyn Manson, and the eponymous frontman is also on very good form lyrically. It maybe could have had another big tune on it, as some of the tracks might not have much of an impact on the live set. A definite return to form, and will be interesting to see how it does, and how the resultant tour goes.