'The Pale Emperor'
At one time it seemed as though Marilyn Manson, the self-proclaimed “God Of Fuck” could do no wrong. The former Brian Warner began his transformation into America's worst nightmare in the Florida underground rock scene in the early 90's before getting signed to Trent Reznor's Nothing Records imprint and releasing a slew of critically and commercially acclaimed albums including 'Antichrist Superstar', 'Mechanical Animals', Holy Wood' and 'The Golden Age Of Grotesque'. The confrontational live performances picketed by Christian group, made headlines around the world, and the more outrageous Manson was, the more we loved him. This was mainly due to the heavily conceptual nature of his albums, coupled with an accessibly angsty blend of rock, metal and industrial.
Fast-forward to 2007's 'Eat Me Drink Me' and 2009's 'The High End Of Low' and Manson appeared to have lost the spark that had won him legions of fans. And indeed the man himself seemed to be on course for his own public breakdown. But his last audio outing, 2012's 'Born Villain', pulled him back from the brink. The darkly demonic rock 'n' roll interspersed with allusions to Hamlet and featuring guitar work by Johnny Depp showed that Manson still had more within him are shone the spotlight back on him as a relevant artist.
We then pick up the story with the latest chapter 'The Pale Emperor', which is principally a collaboration with producer Tyler Bates rather than with his long-time musical confidant Twiggy Ramirez. Musically the album carries on the spikey post-punk characteristics of its predecessor and swamps it in nods to the likes of Nick Cave, Bauhaus, David Bowie and Tom Waits as well as some cinematic atmosphere for a “black and blues” slant on the Manson sound.
Tracks such as 'Deep Six', 'Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge', 'The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles', 'The Devil Beneath My Feet', and 'Cupid Carries A Gun' Provide the backbone of the album with its most accessible with strong guitar lines and infectious grooves brought to the fore. While the likes of 'Warship The Wreck', 'Slave Only Dreams To Be King', 'Birds Of Hell Awaiting', and 'Odds Of Even' give the album more depth by venturing into the more esoteric areas of Manson's sound from albums like 'Antichrist Superstar' and 'Holy Wood' pulling out the industrial and noise rock elements.
As with 'Born Villain', 'The Pale Emperor' is good as an album. And by that I mean it really is one that needs listened to as a whole in order to get the full effect. There aren't really any songs that will hit the commercial highs as singles like 'The Beautiful People', 'The Dope Show', 'Disposable Teens', or 'mOBSCENE' but Manson continues the conceptual momentum as he draws the listener into his Faustian tale. The Manson of the 90s may be gone, but in his place is a man of renewed purpose. Both 'Born Villain' and now 'The Pale Emperor' show him to be on the upswing once again.