The Pale Emperor Arrives – Marilyn Manson
Only a handful of artists in any era have successfully penetrated pop culture like Marilyn Manson. I remember when I was a kid, most adults around me-parents, teachers, my pastor, were literally afraid of this so-called Antichrist with his threatening symbolism and so-called satanic music.
I mean, it is dark; but so is the world. Marilyn tapped into a pulsing vein and exploited it for all its’ worth. The result? Brilliant, transcendent records charging through years of changing sound – featuring some of the most unique music to ever hit wax.
With an unapologetic and fearless attitude, he is a master at exposing the dark truths of society, spitting at the consequences it may bring. That’s what artists do, don’t they? Shaking up the norm and enlightening the masses with foreign observation of the happenings of the world? Maybe all those teachers, parents, and pastors were afraid of Manson, because he threatened to open the eyes of their children-exposing the sad and brutal reality that pertained to a vast array of topics they wished to shield their children from.
One thing is for sure – Manson is always in a state of flux, similar in nature to that of a shapeshifter. Always intelligently aware of every step taken, he strategically calculates his music down to the very second or beat like a true professional. His latest release, The Pale Emperor, is a testament to this skill. In an industry full of watered down variations of “musicians” enthralled in audio tuned, cookie cutter – pop ups, Manson yet again resumes his position as the true emperor of all things not only alternative and metal-rock, despite being absent from the scene like a warrior gone for battle.
“Killing Strangers” – A creeper of an opening track. I really love the build up it provides and it’s commentary on gun violence is not to be missed. Manson, who has sparked criticism and immense heat in the past, surrounding the Columbine school shooting, really hits back hard lyrically with thisbtrack, and rightfully so. The bass is really heavy thanks to the playing of Twiggy Ramirez and the song generally builds a cool and ambient atmosphere. Fact: the song was featured in the film John Wick, starring Keanu Reeves.
“Deep Six” – cool heavy track with major metal influence that reminds us why Manson is the king of the “pre chorus”. The song also features some ripping guitar provided by Paul Wiley and Tyler Bates. This thing has a real attack to it and packs a good punch. It also references Oscar Wilde, who is one of Manson’s biggest literary influences.
“Third Day of a Seven Day Binge” – this tune has a serious garage rock of the 60’s influence in the vain of Mark or Roky Erickson. This song is a surprising departure for Manson, but it shows that he is still reaching creatively which is always great for a seasoned artist. Lyrically it is also very garage – minimal lyrics with a repeating lyric. The claps solidify this tune as an evil 60’s bubble-gum pop song.
“The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles” – this one is just straight up rock ‘n roll straight out of the streets of Los Angelas. You can smell the Sunset Strip on this thing and for those of you who don’t know who Mephistopheles is, he’s a demon who’s featured in German folklore. Manson says “I believe that Mephistopheles and Faust both exist. The character in the story is too arrogant to think that he has to play by the rules, or pay the devil back his due. So I’ve been hearing this [knock, knock, knock] on my door, essentially hell hounds on my trail, the past few records, and this album I think is me saying “here’s your fucking money, devil. Take it.” So I’m paying my dues, and also paying back what was owed for the deal that I made with myself in the beginning to become a rock star”.
“Warship My Wreck”- total gothic love song that has a lot of ambience. The lyrics are pretty deep and the piano and synthesizers create a huge sounding orchestra vibe.
“Slave Only Dreams To Be King” – this tune has the first album Manson vibe with the creepy keyboard intro and chugging beat. Another reference to Oscar Wilde- it is interesting and it’s concepts are deep.
“The Devil Beneath My Feet” – “It’s better to be blamed for robbing Peter, than guilty for paying Paul”
“Birds of Hell Awaiting” – “it’s your death’s desire”
“Cupid Carries a Gun” – Written as the opening theme song for TV show Salem, which deals with fictionalized Salem Witch Trials,this song is catchy and drives really well.The drums and creepy background sounds are great, and I could see why this would be perfect as the theme song for a witch show. Manson said that “the song “Cupid Carries a Gun” was the last track we just finished for my new album. The occult and witchcraft are so often used in cinema with a heinous disregard for even researching its origins. However, I liked the themes of Salem. It looks at the witch trials without being cliche like most modern films.”
“Odds of Even” – one of my favourite songs on the album- it sounds like something between a tune Jessica Lange would sing on American Horror Story and a song from A Nightmare Before Christmas. Slow and menacing, the song really feels like the end of the world.It has a theatrical quality above and beyond the other songs on the record. Great slide guitar work as well as a really wicked ending featuring a keyboard that sounds like it was borrowed from the set of a Dario Argento film.
The word “comeback” comes to mind with this album. But, Manson has never really left the scene. We have and continue to use his abstract sounds as a tool of measure to compare any rock-alternative or metal bands. The Pale Emperor is a more of a reminder. A reminder of what true artistic expression sounds like. A reminder that an artist bearing his most inner thoughts with well calculated and weighty lyrics with stands time. This is what good music does. And Marilyn Manson delivers again.