Album Review : Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor

Review by Wezzy Crüze –
Marilyn Manson2015 is off to a raging start, as we see the release of The Pale Emperor, the latest LP from controversial media personality and shock rock pioneer, Marilyn Manson.

The album poses as a real return to form for Manson, the “Anti-Christ Superstar” going above and beyond previous efforts to deliver an album that fans familiar to his work will not only appreciate, but feel the energy and rawness that some felt has been missing for a lengthy period.

While The Pale Emperor see long time member and musical collaborator Twiggy Ramirez (Jeordie White) absent from the writing and recording procedure (for unknown reasons), we’re introduced to Tyler Bates as he is welcomed to the fold as Manson’s new creative partner.

Bates, having previously worked on various iconic horror film scores such as Rob Zombie’s Halloween I & II, The Devil’s Rejects, James Gunn’s Slither and more recently, Guardians of the Galaxy, met Manson on the set of Californication. It was from there that the two teamed up to record ‘Cupid Carries a Gun’ which was used as the opening music to the historical fantasy television series, Salem, a show which Bates serves as a composer to. Bates went on to co-write and produce the album, as well as join Manson as his touring lead guitarist. This fun fact made the listening experience all the more enjoyable, as the structure of the songs takes on a very cinematic feel.

Killing Strangers’ starts off the album, which has a very Southern swamp and red-neck blues inspired guitar lick, along with a church floor stomping beat backing it up. If HBO were to reboot the True Blood franchise, this would possibly be a top contender for the opening theme song; the composing skills of Bates would possibly have a part to do with that. The skin and bones structure sets up the theme of the album, proving that ‘less is more’ can pack a powerful punch when done effectively.

Deep Six’ brings back the energy, a glam-rock structured stadium filler to what Manson was known for back in the late 90’s. The chorus, the heavy and distorted industrial chord progression, is a real throwback to the Mechanical Animals (1998) era. While the lyrics are mostly word play of quick quips taken from stems of Greek mythology (“You wanna know what Zeus said to Narcissus? You better watch yourself!”), it’s the energy behind the four on the floor beat that will keep the headbangers banging and the strippers… Well, you know.

Third Day of a Seven Day Binge’ was a real stand out track, upon first hearing it while channel surfing the radio shy of a month ago, this one was a real ear-worm. Whilst equal parts catchy and melodic, it took all the best elements of previous album, Born Villain (2012), and made it into something that stands over it. Lyrically depressive to a fault, it’s that signature gravel throated delivery that keeps it engaging with some long, drawn out hummed ‘mmmm’s’ for good measure.

The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles’ once again calls upon mythology and folklore, taking it’s title from German literature for another glam-rocker inspired track that runs parallel to the history of Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx through the 80’s; jaded and suicidal in the city of lost angels.

As the album plays out, there’s some sure fire tracks that die-hard fans will appreciate. ‘Slave Only Dreams To Be King’ brings back those signature elements of the earlier albums, while ‘Birds of Hell Awaiting’ delivers an nostalgic effect as it’s pulsating bass groove plays out similarly to that of ‘The Dope Show’ (1998) and breaks the song down into a twisted David Lynch inspired production.

The Devil Beneath My Feet’ is a story that Manson has preached to the choir all too often, one which he takes pleasure in. Lyrically, pulling apart anything religious piece by piece, and claiming that he “don’t need a mother****er looking down on me!”.

Odds of Even’ brings the album full circle as it sends us off with those dive bar blues inspired sounds, an intimate feel that one can visualise playing out to it.

If you were to listen to this album as an instrument piece, you’d probably think you were listening to a soundtrack to a gothic inspired vampire/witch/werewolf/ghost and ghouls television series/film, that alone made Bates a great co-collaborator suited to Manson. While some may kick up a stink because it’s not the classic heavy non-stop distorted guitar structure of his earlier 90’s work, don’t be turned away. Manson’s at the top of his game for the first time in a decade, his acid tongue is on point with melodies and lyrical phrases of the grotesque and the unholy, an album that shows it’s respects to those that influenced him (David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Joy Division). The Pale Emperor is a highly recommended album as it plays out in panoramic cinematic style with genuine Manson storytelling to boot.

Review by Wezzy Crüze –

Click Here for our Photo Gallery : Marilyn Manson @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney – 29 February 2012

Read our Album Review: Marilyn Manson – Born Villain