Overall Score: 8.5/10 Riffs: 8/10 Solos: 9/10 Musical Progression: 9/10 Pros: Powerful & Mature Writing | Passionate Vocal Delivery Cons: Emphasis on Manson's drug habits
I don’t believe there is anyone, anywhere in the world that isn’t familiar with the name Marilyn Manson. He’s to modern metal as Alice Cooper was to the 80’s. He has carved a path for himself that is just as much about being infamous as it is about his work as a musician.
The Antichrist superstar to many people lost his way over his previous albums. I can understand why people hold that view. With more emphasis on lyrical content than shocking antics this may have seemed like the crown prince of shock rock had lost his way but I believe that this isn’t the case. Looking back briefly to his previous work Born Villain it was easy to see the blossoming of the new Manson. The new wave influenced Gothic powerhouse was reborn and revitalised and dangerous again. Moving forward to The Pale Emperor, does this album stack up?
Well, in short yes it does. From the opening track Killing Strangers it is clear to see that The Pale Emperor is a natural evolution from what came before it. Manson’s characteristic crooning has matured spectacularly and whilst he may lack the screams he could once deliver he has more punch than ever before. Deep Six follows the same vein that the previous track had taken, it’s bombastic delivery and raw edge holds a kind of casual violent feel that seems somewhat like a lion playing with it’s food. It will kill you but you’re going to enjoy yourself until it happens.
As the album progresses as with all Manson albums it contains both highs and lows, Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge is an example of such a low. Slave Only Dreams To Be King and The Devil Beneath My Feet are possibly the two best tracks on this record. Stamping drums and low mixed guitars give the first of the two a classic vibe, and wouldn’t be out of place on the likes of Golden Age Of The Grotesque. The latter is a bass heavy exercise in how best to show off Manson’s unique and rasping vocal. The added keyboards are something I’d like to see be utilised further but in the small spaces they occupy they fill every expanse they’re afforded.
Cupid Carries A Gun and Odds Of Even mark the last two tracks on the standard version of The Pale Emperor, and they go out on a high. The latter has a melancholic jazz feel to it, smoky high hats and sultry bass lines. I also have to admit I prefer Manson’s vocal when he’s not going at a million miles an hour, but when you can hear the vulnerabilities in his performance and his character. Burning out rather than fading away The Pale Emperor reaches it’s inevitable conclusion.
This album has taught me several things, Marilyn Manson is still has relevant today as he ever has been. Manson’s song writing only ever improves and it has also taught me that Manson really is an artist and even at his least aggressive he’s still blisteringly emotive. Long may this continue.
The Pale Emperor is out now on Manson’s own Hell, etc label and Cooking Vinyl.