Friday, June 12, 2009
First you try to fuck it, then you try to Eat it
"HIGH END OF LOW"
Marilyn Manson returns with an album that is as personal as it is experimental, landing a disc that is his most satisfying since the eclectic (and much shit upon) MECHANICAL ANIMALS.
After the huge disappointment of EAT ME DRINK ME, this comes as a relief that he still has what it takes to deliver a good record. This time he wisely has reunited with former band mates Twiggy Ramirez and Ginger Fish who had added a vitality that was clearly missing on the last go round. But also extremely smart was using Chris Vrenna and Sean Beavin (both who have contributed mightily to NIN in the past) to work heavily on this record. The results are an album that stretches Manson's creative muscles in ways he has clearly not tried before, incorporating blues, some carnival sounds, torch songs, many heavily layered sounds and even a 80's styled heavy metal balled or two. Scary thing is that all of it works, just when the disc threatens to dip into cheddar cheese territory of self parody Manson reels it back in, let us understand that He understands just where he stands in the whirl of material and sees a certain amount of humor in some of it. Songs like "Arma-God Damn-Mother Fucking-Geddon" seem like they are trying so hard to be anti-conformist offensive until you realize that it is indeed a pot shot at the actual selling of that rebellion itself, then the humor shines through, even if it it rather black hearted. Manson's normal targets such as the positions of Authority, terrible parenting and the ass backward media all make the expected appearances such as the blistering "We're From America" with lyrics like "We don't kill our unborn, we need them to grow up and fight our wars".
But the album is at its best when it gets down and almost confessional. The last disc EAT ME DRINK ME, tried so hard to feel like a rock show to impress Manson's new 19 year old girlfriend that it seemed embarrassing at times. But occasionally dipped over into some semi personal territory. This time the whole disc feels like a full blown self examination of who he is and why he ended up at this place he is in life. Much of it clearly aimed at former wife Dita Von Teese (and perhaps Evan Rachel Wood, who I know next to nothing about, so it is hard for me to comment about that). Take for example the lyrics to the playful sounding "Wow" (pronounced "Woah" in the song):
I was happy for a while
And I stopped being scared
And ashamed to say what's on my mind
But you though I changed after a while
And said "you better treat me different or else"
"Or Else" seems like a stupid fucking thing to say to someone like me
Or from the mysteriously titled "15" that closes the album:
I can get a try now
I'm not really dead
But I really needed someone to save me
Leaving me alone to die
Is worse than having guts to kill me
The album closes with the refrain:
This time I won't hesitate
To kill to protect what I believe in
Not letting you win
Won't satisfy me
I'll teach you about the loss
If you look at Marilyn Manson's most interesting album's they have been influenced by the women in his life at least indirectly. MECHANICAL ANIMALS was from the era, and she seems to be in some of that material. His break up with her influenced certain songs Rose MagowenHOLY WOOD (though to be fair that album is largely made up of his negative experience dealing with being blamed for the Columbine massacre). Then THE GOLDEN AGE OF GROTESQUE is both heavily influenced by the fetish scene and glamor from new girl Dita Von Teese as well as some residual anger from the former break up sneaking its way into songs like "Slutgarden".
So for him to open himself up so raw, honest and at times vulgarly so, is an engaging experience this time out the gate. It is easy to stand outside the world of a celebrity and shake your finger and make judgment calls. But to see those judgments from the artist and to see them made into art is compelling. It can be a train wreck, but this time the artist strikes gold with it.
Here's the URL for the new video. (Embedding disable by request of the Record Company)