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Marilyn Manson - The Pale Emperor (2015) - Review

Band: Marilyn Manson
Album title: The Pale Emperor
Release date: 20 January 2015   
Label: Cooking Vinyl/Hell, etc.

01. Killing Strangers
02. Deep Six
03. Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge
04. The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles
05. Warship My Wreck
06. Slave Only Dreams To Be King
07. The Devil Beneath My Feet
08. Birds Of Hell Awaiting
09. Cupid Carries A Gun
10. Odds Of Even
11. Day 3 [deluxe edition bonus]
12. Fated, Faithful, Fatal [deluxe edition bonus]
13. Fall Of The House Of Death [deluxe edition bonus]

Antichrist superstar is no more.

There's a saying men are like wine – some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age. Marilyn Manson, a controversial persona and multi-talented artist, who was anything but America's sweetheart in the 90's of the past millennia, falls into the latter category. There is no secret Mr. Manson rose to fame by being agent provocateur, spitting hatred and dissense on the what was supposed to be the altar of everything saint and ethic in our lives. And as on one side he managed to create a massive crowd, who loathed him – as they feared him – he was also the role model of a rebellious youth; a generation, which had the nerve to oppose of what showed down their throats by politics, religion and society. What was shown down our throats, to be exact. I can't deny the fact that when it comes to Manson, I do tend to be a bit biased about him and his music. As a growing teenager in the 90s, Marilyn Manson's music and himself, as one of the most recognizable rock stars, was something that I found beyond fascinating, and while I was told on numerous occasions that Manson is nothing but a poser, who lacks talent, I didn't listen to that crap and enthusiastically embraced his every creation. To be completely honest, his last four musical pieces – The Golden Age Of Grotesque, Eat Me, Drink Me, The High End Of Low and Born Villain – had me thinking that Manson has ran out of the ideas. He grew older, he matured and more than his art the media and the public seemed to be interested in his personal live and enjoy every single gossip of his failed marriage.

Antichrist superstar is no more. This is the era of the pale emperor.

Marilyn Manson has slowly been stripping down the dense, industrial effects of his music through the 2010's and The Pale Emperor is as bare naked as it gets. The industrial metal features are only slightly present at some occasions, but other than that, this album is a raw and organic, blues oriented alternative rock sonic masterpiece. Bluesy guitar riffs, smooth rhythm section with only a touch of electronics here and there and of course Manson's sore-filled vocals is what you get from "Killing Strangers" all the way till your reach "Odds Or Evens". First single from the album, "The Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge", shook the audience with its smoothness: pulsating bass lines, gentle guitars and vocals, oozing pain and phlegmatic attitude at the same time, create this psychedelically mesmerizing wonderland, you never want to leave and that same ambient is so pleasantly dispersed over the entire album, it makes you crave for more and more; like a drug. Moreover, there are bits and pieces of obscurity of Holy Wood (In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death) shattered over the songs, like for example in the opening portions of "Birds Of Hell Awaiting" and "Slave Only Dreams To Be King". But these darksome insertions are just enough to add that additional ghastly and asphyxiating atmosphere and by no means recycles the already known sound. My personal favourite, "Warship My Wreck" carries a strong, but subtle industrial tone and profound melancholy, making it somehow perfect for film score music, while "Deep Six" throws the remains of the early in your face: harsh, bombastic and with the fuck you all attitude thrown in your face. For the anti-effect, "Killing Strangers" delivers the slow and trippy grooves and if you’re able to get the deluxe edition, you’ll also get to enjoy in "Fated, Faithful, Fatal" and "Fall Of The House Of Death", where – believe it or not – acoustic guitars are dominant. If anything else, I must mention Manson's vocal work, which is breathtakingly astonishing. While he may not possess the widest range or the most pleasant voice colour, he sings from the bottom of his soul, portraying such a wide palette of emotions: utterly romantic, other times bearing the incomprehensible weight of world-weariness.

As Manson stated himself, the album title was inspired by the Roman emperor Constantinus I, also known as Constantinus The Pale, but still, with a title combing an adjective describing a physical feature and a royal title, it made me wonder: does the pale emperor have anything to do with the thin white duke? It has been fairly obvious he himself was greatly influenced by glam rock of the 70, especially the legendary David Bowie. Bowie created Ziggy Stardust and paraded the 70s with his androgynous looks and Manson created Omēga, who actually is a substance addicted glam rocker and a gender ambiguous alien and portrays one of the key roles in his 1998 mega smashing album Mechanical Animals. Ah well, this is probably senseless blabbering, but I could see the resemblance between the hollow, cocaine-addicted, over-romantic duke and ache-filled, doubting and lifeless emperor and as it crossed my mind, I thought why not share it.

Putting all that aside, The Pale Emperor is undoubtedly Marilyn Manson's best work since 2000's Holy Wood (In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death), without a shadow (which may or may not be the one of the valley of death) of doubt. Touching the themes of mortality, violence, religion, war and of course, inner struggles. If Manson may have lost his focus in the past few years, he is clearly on the right track again. With this release he has stripped himself to the bone and exposed his most inner shadows in the limelight as never before. Even though this album is a twist from his trademark sound, it delivers massive sharpness, in-your-face attitude and fearless edge; everything we love and fear when it comes to Marilyn Manson.

Review written by: Ines
Rating: 9/10