25 February 2015

Marilyn Manson - The Pale Emperor

When shock rock becomes less of a shock to the general public, should we all be frozen in shock horror? I'm currently reading the details of this album on Wikipedia, and the genres listed are all rock related, but NO traces of metal from Marilyn Manson? I look upon this with some serious dark forbodings. No seriously. Granted that I'm not a fan of MM himself, and I really haven't listened to too much of his material, he does stand in the mix as an important figure. Notwithstanding his industrial metal makeovers of Personal Jesus and Tainted Love, he has put up some impressive stuff like The Beautiful People, but probably not enough to completely endear me towards his dark realm.

However, it's my sincere hope that Mazza hasn't toned down his act, but as I begin listening to his latest release, his ninth album (or if you want to refer to his name as a band) the metal edge has been whitewashed completely and a far more listenable rock crux has taken over. Like all evergreen rock and metal acts, the best always change as a rule, so hopefully there's scope for optimism. I also know that one thing to be said for MM is that he takes much time and effort on his songwriting and production and here The Pale Emperor seems to follow the Manson ethos.

What's not changed is the electrocharged quality in the production. Some of his earlier material from the 1990s still feel as sharp and dark toned to this date, and The Pale Emperor is no exception. The guitars have far less distortion in the album on the whole and Manson's primal screams have all but disappeared completely. I know it's been almost twenty years since Antichrist Superstar but The Pale Emperor is a stark contrast as evidenced in opening track Killer Strangers. Very slow beat and lyrically very it;s a straightforward commentary on US gun culture. Nothing outlandish although some of the choral loops reminisce of The Tubeway Army. The pace picks up with some rock riffs in Deep Six, the lettering is as academic as its predecessor but the chorus is disturbingly very addictive.

Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge marks resemblance the Zombie's Time Of The Season intro until the song gets underway, a simple tale of escapism and trying to break free of the daily grind. It's been a slow purposeful start, then it's a stronger showing with Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles, very seductive Muse-ish guitars and very grown up, I've enjoyed it. Possibly the least decipherable song is Warship My Wreck which is very hard to comprehend but I can only assume it's about self harm, something MM is no stranger to writing about, nevertheless still compelling. Next track is Slave Only Dreams To Be King, no hollers, no yells on this one either, Manson sings clean right throughout, a la Billy Idol, and wouldn't look out of place in a Generation X album either.

I can see where MM has been pissing off a few faithful of the Bible Belt, and The Devil Beneath My Feet is a potential stab, though probably not as caustic as what Marilyn was doing in the 1990s. Further evidence that he wants to branch out is with Birds Of Hell Awaiting, a blues influenced number with beats borrowed from George Thorogood, rather strange approach which doesn't fully work for me, but thankfully no less menacing. And a good thing too as it's back to the industrial rock with Cupid Carries A Gun with the same tongue lash at the spiritual side of things. In the former days, I would've expected to have chills and despair listening to him, and Odds Of Even despite its lack of pace is a more concerted effort.

In the Deluxe version, there are another handful of songs, but they're basically re-titled acoustic versions of the main billing on The Pale Emperor, which I think on the whole feels a lot less synthetic to what I'm accustomed to hearing from Mazza. The irony is having listened to it a couple of times, I really wanted to give this a damned good mauling for its lack of serration and ill-advised change of musical direction. Yet I'm struggling to do so because you know something? I actually like this as he's lyrically lost none of his edge, and some of the industrial furnishings haven't gone either, so for the time being, it's a tentative nod from me. I could really get full esoteric and sadistic enjoyment this but please Mr. Manson don't scrub too much of your metal side as you should never forget how you got here.

8 out of ten. Oh, now you have my attention, and maybe my money, time and heart.
Best track : Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles

Buy The Pale Emperor here on Amazon
Listen to the album here on Spotify
Deezer listeners click on this link
Official Marilyn Manson Website here
Official Marilyn Manson Facebook page here

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