This is one of the albums of 2012 I really waited for, but on the other hand I was kind of afraid of. When Twiggy Ramirez was often quoted as saying “It’s our best record yet, I think. I mean, everyone always says that, but I think this is our best work so far… It’s kind of like a little more of a punk rock “Mechanical Animals” without sounding too pretentious.”, and since the previous “The High End of Low” it’s an almost four years gap, the expectations are pretty high. “No Reflection” kind of scared me further because it doesn’t actually sound pretty convincing, although it’s a quite fair Rock track.
So, “Hey, Cruel World…” just set things right, it’s a huge Manson sound like (almost) anthem and even the following “No Reflection” make more sense now, still don’t know why it was picked to be the leading single of the album while it’s almost one of the weakest track of it. Or maybe this is the reason. Or simply there is no reason. And well, no weak tracks, boring moments on this album.
Those who detested, hated Manson till now, definitively gonna hate and detest, contest him from now on as well. And it goes the same for those who loved and followed, some idolized him. Marilyn Manson is still Marilyn Manson, still, but not the same. And this is one of the things I like about this guy, just as he said “I’m a million different things, not one you know” ( lyrics from “I Want To Disappear”). Manson re-invent himself witch each and every new album, not recycling the same tested and working cliches, but still have a definitively Marilyn Manson signature on his art. Twiggy mentioned the “Mechanical Animals”, actually it reminds me more of the 2003’s “The Golden Age of Grotesque” merged with the spirit of his previous “The High End of Low”. It’s kind of continuity in this – in the most positive sense. Like a garden where Manson is… The Gardener. Do you really feel like you’re a flower?
This is the best Marilyn Manson album? Don’t know, don’t actually really care about ranking his works, but for sure, this is not the worst of them. Listen to it, diving deeper into this, I believe “Born Villain” might be the most interesting and experimental album by far. On the other hand these 13 songs have some extremely classy, sometimes even kind of vintage feel. Manson gave up on Industrial Rock/Metal and this is a post everything, possibly Rock experiment, maybe from the Hell of his soul.
If I have any reproach, it’s eventually the one I have since 2004 when John 5 was kicked out or left the band: he need a real guitarist. Twiggy and Fred Sablan managed the guitar tasks right, but none of them are really guitarists and sometimes it’s nothing like an authentic good old riff. Fuck guitar solos!
01 – Hey, Cruel World…
02 – No Reflection
03 – Pistol Whipped
04 – Overneath the Path of Misery
05 – Slo-Mo-Tion
06 – The Gardener
07 – The Flowers of Evil
08 – Children of Cain
09 – Disengaged
10 – Lay Down Your Goddamn Arms
11 – Murderers Are Getting Prettier Every Day
12 – Born Villain
13 – Breaking the Same Old Ground
14 – You’re So Vain (bonus track featuring Johnny Depp)
“Hey, Cruel World…” opening the album almost in a shy way, but when the leading riff finally kick in, it blows everything away. Doubled by a nervous, distorted bass. Manson spitting his poisonous words right in your face and all the little noises are same many needles to pricking your brain. Not an anthem in the manner of “The Beautiful People”, but a furious garage Rock track which cutting you through like a runaway train.
“No Reflection” is a stripped down to the bone “mansonish” Rock song, left behind almost everything connected to the “Industrial” genre and kept only the dirty, cutting, effective Rock elements. It reminds me the Manson of the “The Golden Age of Grotesque” era without any traces of electronica.
“Pistol Whipped” goes even further back to the “Portrait of an American Family”, but Manson is a different man now, everything is straight, simple and in a very heavy sense minimal. Its been a while since I listened something so simple, but extremely intense.
And strange. “Overneath the Path of Misery” it’s somewhere between a shamanic ritual incantation and the Heavy Metal/Space Rock experiments of the 70’s. No better comment on this then: Dope! 😆
“Slo-Mo-Tion” is another Rock song, can put or leave out the “post” label, the song rocks anyway. Very 70’s, but looking further with a smell of LSD – or something even more criminal.
“The Gardener” is one of my favorites, have that murderous groove which make you do eventually crazy things. Bass, drums, vocals, here and there the appropriate riffs and guitar licks. So simple and efficient that you might say “I could do this!”, and yes, maybe you could, but didn’t. And Manson, once again, managed to be himself, not a cheater, not a fake, not a copy and not an imitator. Not a clown although Rock’N’Roll is more then ever a circus.
“The Flowers of Evil” reminded me of The Doors. Swear, I only had drink my coffee! Manson is the poet and everything is build around his madness, rage and genius.
“Children of Cain” have some post-Industrial felt, sounds broken and minimal, it’s more a preach, then a manifest, or dangerously both. Somehow it feels more like a closing track in the manner of “15” from his previous record then a song in the middle of the album, but maybe this is only me. I loved “15” and I like this one as well, they have the same vibe. But if I think in vinyls and not fucking CDs, this definitively the song to close side A.
“Disengaged” is another ritualistic dance, everything seems broken up and floating, can’t actually know what it’s real and what it’s part of a nightmare. I think the nightmare it’s real actually and we all are wrapped in it.
“Lay Down Your Goddamn Arms” have a definitively Black Sabbath vibe! It’s so so heavy. Almost a classic. It’s good to hear some riffs, that deep, breathing bass lines and the pounding drums.
“Murderers Are Getting Prettier Every Day” it’s one of the fastest track of the album, and probably one of the most furious ones as well. It’s almost like Ministry, but in a very Mansonish perspective and perception.
“Born Villain” is a dark trip, probably filled with addictive substances. It’s an act of exorcism or it sucks you even deeper into the spiral of spiritual release and death, God knows. ( 🙂 ) The short film directed by actor Shia LaBeouf was quite astonishing last year in September and inspired by the legendary Buñuel and Dalí’s 1929 short film “Un Chien Andalou”. The song seems a struggle to me, but as I said, don’t know if it’s about getting in or getting out…
“Breaking the Same Old Ground” is unexpectedly gentle. Almost a lullaby which send you back to your…. normal life. It’s there’s any left?
“You’re So Vain”, the bonus track featuring Johnny Depp is not so great, the boys had fun, this is Rock’N’Roll, alright, but that’s all.
I’m still not sure about all this pieces together, but I like the idea. It seems Manson intentionally avoided to deliver any anthem, any classy riffs and solos, he get rid most of his previous Industrial and electronic elements and sounds and came up with a bold, straight, absolutely minimal Rock record leaving everything behind and looking further without intention of re-inventing the light build or the wheel, not to mention the Rock’N’Roll. This is simultaneously post and retro vintage, and that make it so good.
Definitively deserves a few more listening – which is the most what anyone could achieve from a record nowadays.