Marilyn Manson is back - the man, the band, the subcultural phenomenon - with album number nine, 'The Pale Emperor'. Reviled by some, revered by others, one fact is undeniable about the controversy creating provocateur otherwise known as Brian Warner - he makes great music. Whether your exposure to Marilyn Manson has been a fleetingly sporadic one through hearing their ever-inventive covers that've infiltrated all kinds of mainstream media, or a more profound love of the dark aesthetic that's characterised the man's semblance and the band's music for so many years now, he/they have persisted in popularity and perpetuated both mainstream and underground acceptance for over two decades, ever since the release of 'Portrait of an American Family' back in 1994. Personally, I've always teetered somewhere between those two camps but, ultimately, have remained an incidental admirer of his music through random encounters. So when 'The Pale Emperor' was made available for review, it provided me with my latest ad hoc Marilyn Manson experience. And a fortuitous one it was too, as the album really is rather good.
With a melodically strong current running through each and every song, the album's also an engaging listen through its inherent variance. There's the industrial-edged, rhythmically idiomatic 'Killing Strangers' and 'Slave Only Dreams'; the cinematic, dark electronica of 'Warship My Wreck'; the quasi-Americana influence in 'Third Day of a Seven Day Binge'; and the subtle blues flavours of 'The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles', 'Birds of Hell' and 'Odds of Even'. Then, of course, there's the distinctive tones of Manson's voice which, coupled with the music, is peculiarly entrancing through its idiosyncrasies. Personnel-wise, Twiggy Ramirez performs bass while Stolen Babies sticksman, Gil Sharone, is now the man behind the kit, and famed film composer Tyler Bates is responsible for guitars, keyboards and co-produced alongside Manson himself (and a great production it is too). It's an efficacious quartet to carry forward the Marilyn Manson name, and traces of Tyler's filmic background can be heard in several of the tunes. Manson has always been about theatricality so this feels like a natural injection into his music. All in all, there are enough Manson idioms on 'The Pale Emperor' to please the die-hard aficionado, as well as stylistic disparity to delight the casual listener like myself.
THE PALE EMPEROR
Review by Mark Holmes
19th Jan 2015
1) Killing Strangers
2) Deep Six
3) Third Day of a Seven Day Binge
4) The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles
5) Warship My Wreck
6) Slave Only Dreams To Be King
7) The Devil Beneath My Feet
8) Birds Of Hell Awaiting
9) Cupid Carries A Gun
10) Odds Of Even
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"Reviled by some, revered by others, one fact is undeniable about the controversy creating provocateur otherwise known as Brian Warner - he makes great music."