After the Columbine Massacre Shootings, Michael Moore interviewed Marilyn Manson about what he would say to the two gunmen that perpetrated the heinous act. His response was simple, “I wouldn’t say anything to them, I’d listen to them”. Herein lies Marilyn Manson’s dilemma, his intelligence often get’s overlooked by the show. KISS, Alice Cooper and Motley Crue all suffered the same fates in their careers, people thinking there was no depth just all show.
As with the other artists, there is a LOT going on inside the mind of Marilyn Manson. For his 9th studio album – The Pale Emperor, Manson seems on one hand to have slowed down the pace and given us a more reflective journey and in the other, well it’s holding a knife to us all.
In reading up on this album, I realized that my initial thoughts and impressions about it was not isolated. One of the most surprising aspects of this album is its tonal shift from previous MM works. We all know The Beautiful People and The Dope Show (or should, shame on you if you don’t!), but this is DIFFERENT. Not in anyway bad different, but not the MM you’re used to.
Giving the music a more cinematic and coherent feel is Tyler Bates, a first-time collaborator who met Manson while the two were working on the TV show ‘Californication’. Bates’ film composing has given the material a much needed layered feel than the last couple of efforts. The album was produced by Manson and Bates. The always rotating roster of musicians in the Marilyn Manson band has been reduced this time to Manson on keyboards, percussion and of course vocals and Bates on nearly everything else. This is probably the reason that the record feels like a coherent mess.
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
(Deluxe Edition only)
11. Day 3
12. Fated, Faithful, Fatal
13. Fall of the House of Death
Based on the tales of Faust, the album tells the story of hope, glory and the price paid for the life of fame. It seems that Manson has turned inward for these lyrics and found a healthier way of expressing his demons. The one thing I noticed was the lack of self loathing that permeated his last album.
All the music on this record was written by Bates and with his mind free to roam the hills of the L.A. of his mind, Manson has created a narcissistic view of Americana which is scary, beautiful and, as a friend of mine that shall be forever henceforth known as ‘The Hot Chick’ agrees, it’s a damned sexy ride. Going from the early beginnings of his career to now, I’d have to say that the leap forward in evolution of story telling and having a concept behind the madness makes this my choice of his best work so far.
The bonus tracks that come with the deluxe edition are worth the extra money, rounding out the album with three acoustic track really brings home the ‘left of normal’ nature of the story.
As a fan of Marilyn Manson I hate to use the word but he has ‘matured’ into an amazing writer and holds his own as an artist that can truly take you somewhere with what he writes. I’d say he is hitting his stride and look forward to the next release with much anticipation.
The lyric that sums up the album so well is taken from the first track ‘Killing Strangers’ and reflects what I was alluding to in the mentioning of Columbine – just listen.
“We’re killing strangers so that we don’t kill the ones we love.”