Marilyn Manson is a figure surrounded perpetually in mythology, both real and fake. In the latter stage of the 90s, Manson was the most controversial rockstar on the planet: known for urinating on crowds, mixing in Satanist circles and claiming, in 1995, to have smoked human bones. He was even alleged, in 1999, to have had an influence on the Columbine High School massacre, with American conservatives blaming his violent, nihilistic lyrics for the tragic mass shooting. Love him or loathe him; his career and his life have been one of the most enduring and fascinating in modern rock music. This album is a reaffirmation of his status as rock’s dark prince: sticking to the similar lyrical shock factor and the same brooding, industrial textures as previous album The Pale Emperor.
Lead single ‘WE KNOW WHERE YOU FUCKING LIVE’ is a statement of intent, driven by a snarling bassline, as Manson sings of his love for destruction and a disturbing desire to “eat the street”. The explosive, anarchic opener ‘Revelation #12’ is a similar sonic assault, and probably the album’s heaviest track. ‘KILL4ME’ is not quite as enjoyable, a peculiar synth-driven track that feels overproduced, not quite as memorable as the album’s other cuts.
In other songs, however, the influence of glitch and industrial electronic music works nicely, such as in ‘JE$U$ CRI$I$’. "I write songs to fight and to fuck to", Manson screams, in a chorus bound to be bellowed back by crowds across the globe. ‘Saturnalia’, too, opens with a crackly syncopated dubstep beat before morphing into a furious, driving industrial track. The mood is sustained across seven minutes, as strange, technological bleeps pulsate in the background, unexpectedly recalling the suffocating paranoia of early Detroit techno and electro records, or The Cure’s Pornography.
There are moments of personal reflection to be found amidst the chaos, though. On album closer ‘Threats of Romance’, for instance, Manson admits: "Someone like me can’t make it last", perhaps referring to a string of failed relationships throughout his life. Despite this more sensitive moment, there are no radical departures here, musically or lyrically, and numerous tracks on the album feel slightly undercooked. However, in terms of cementing Manson’s place as rock music’s last surviving provocateur; its last narcotic-loving, devil-worshipping fiend, then this album is a fine reminder of his unique status.
Words: Daniel Keane