I have to admit that I’ve found Marilyn Manson’s post-Golden Age of Grotesque offerings to be lacking in places.
While he’s never lost his ability to pull together an industrial/avant-garde metal sound that is at turns pop-hook catchy and alternately exploratory, there’s been a lack of that true sense of Manson having his finger on the genre pulse in his last three offerings. A meandering focus in sound and a lack of enduring entries in the catalogue are primarily to blame.
I am hopeful for next month’s release of The Pale Emperor, Manson’s forthcoming addition to his discography. Having been in the works since 2013, Manson promises a cinematic album infused with the blues and a “melody leads” approach.
One taste: “Killing Strangers”, featured in the recent Keanu Reeves film John Wick. Opening sparse and gritty, it somehow evokes the swagger of Mechanical Animals — but subtly. For legal reasons, you’ll have to be industrious and locate it yourself to take a listen. I’m eager to hear the full version.
Another: “Third Day of a Seven Day Binge”. This one is going to feel a little more at home from moment one, straddling a realm between Holy Wood and his latter output. Low-key in feel and reliant on acoustic guitar underpinnings, this one seems to be the maturation of his heyday. There’s still the dark moodiness and isolation that’s always been there for fans to connect with, but there’s a conscious choice to operate with a “less is more” approach. I’m really enjoying this one; whether that’s a testament to my tastes in angst-ready music shifting or Manson stepping up the game, I’m not certain. Honestly, I don’t think it matters.
A third sample: “Deep Six”. Wondering where the more up-tempo, mosh-ready tracks are on The Pale Emperor? Here you go. “Deep Six” has an 80s industrial dance-worthy beat and a flooring it on the highway feel to its melody. While it’s definitely enjoyable as a radio single sort of tune, there’s something missing here… For all of the ways “Binge” succeeds with its minimalism, “Deep Six” feels like a demo waiting for a finishing touch to set it apart from the pack. Lyrically, however, it brings the clever like the old days.
What do you think, Marilyn Manson fans? Does the new material herald a true return to form? An evolved and tasty new take on the old sound?