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MARILYN MANSON || The Pale Emperor

Marilyn Manson
The Pale Emperor

Label: Hell, etc.
Released on: January 20th, 2015
Grade: 4.5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Neil Miller, Jr.

Marilyn Manson has finally done it.  If you’ve been waiting for a record that holds up well next to other classics like Mechanical Animals or Antichrist Superstar, then The Pale Emperor is your holy grail.  This album is not only a true return to form for the dark one, but it finds him exploring the groundwork he laid out on his last truly great album, Eat Me, Drink Me.  Like that album, these songs have the same abrasive ‘recorded in one take’ feel to them.  It may not be as metal and taboo as his early material, but that’s what makes this so much like his older music.  He’s shocking his listeners with the unexpected – in this case, a sound fueled by fuzzy bass riffs, crunchy funked out guitars that wouldn’t sound out of place on Bowie’s Station To Station album, with unapologetically honest lyrics and vocal delivery that drips with a pain only a lovely devil like Manson would know.  When you listen to Eat Me, Drink Me and similarly on The Pale Emperor, you can practically feel Mr. Brian Warner bleeding his soul into your ears…it’s uncomfortable yet comforting.  For those of us who remember when ‘Mar1lyn Man5on’ was practically an alien from outer space, it’s nice to have a glimpse into his humanity once in a while…The Pale Emperor is most certainly just that.

I’ll admit up front…I was prepared to brush off this new album as another half decent/half shit-sandwich like Born Villain and The High End of Low.  I haven’t been as much of a fan in recent years as, say, when I was 16.  When I was 16, I actually waited in line for 5 hours to see him in Peoria (yes, I was first in line and yes, I was kind of a big fan).  Those days have dissipated and lackluster output has turned me into a casual fan.  But The Pale Emperor reminds me of the same familiar feeling Manson’s early output inspired in his longtime fans…excitement.  This record is exciting from front to back.  Even in its slowest moments, it’s hard to stop listening because it sounds as if Marilyn is just about to completely lose his mind at any second.  And that’s precisely the best element of the entire album – Manson’s vocals.  His voice seems to be like a fine wine, it’s actually aged quite nicely…that or he’s torn up his voice so much now that all he can do is be the best blues singer in the hard rock/metal enormodome.  Just listen to “Slave Only Dreams To Be King” and tell me you don’t hear swagger in his voice.   The music follows suit, album opener “Killing Strangers” is a downright dirty blues grind that could very well be the bastard child of “I Don’t Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me)” – but throw a stick at any of these songs and you’ll find a neatly cut line of funk and angular riffage.

If you’ve strayed from Emperor Manson in the last decade, you might want to consider joining his kooky following once again.  This is Marilyn’s Houses of The Holy, his Dark Side of the Moon, or his Raw Power.  He’s had several unforgettable moments leading up to now, when the stars aligned to allow his version of a timeless rock record to be born.  Mark my words: this album could very well be the one they talk about 20 years from now when the name Marilyn Manson is brought up…but at the very least, it could be mentioned in the same sentence as Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals.  If you read Manson’s book, The Pale Emperor is the literal sound of his Long Hard Road Out of Hell.  Give Marilyn the chance to claw his way back into your earholes this time around, you won’t be disappointed.

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