The Pale Emperor by Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson is back, and he hasn't got a care in the world. He is no longer head over heels in love with a woman half his age, he is no longer filled with sorrow and angst; Manson is angry, and he wants everyone to know about it. In 2012, during the now infamous Twins of Evil tour, I happened to be in attendance during the show in Clarkston, MI that ignited a feud between the two headliners. The problems began when Manson started to experience technical difficulties in the middle of his set, and began to call for the physical assault of Rob Zombie. Manson was rude and berated his roadies for the issues, and after the incident I lost a lot of respect for Manson, as he was not only disrespecting his fans, but his touring partner, his crew, and his bandmates as well. Now I know that Manson's persona has taken on a life of its own, but when people pay a lot of money to see you you had better get your stuff together and regardless of what happens always keep your cool. So, I packed up my Manson CD's, including the soso "Born Villain," and effectively put Manson out of my mind and regular rotation. Then one day, Pandora worked one of my favorite Manson tracks in and I started towaiver, thinking to myself, "you know what? The guy's a nut, but he's one hell of a musician and one of my favorites." So back down the rabbit hole, I felt as I unearthed the albums and began to remember why I liked him so much in the first place. Despite his many insecurities, Manson ultimately does not care what the general public thinks of him, nor does he care to regurgitate the same kind of music that brought him into the spotlight in 1994. No, Manson plays by his own rules, and damned be the consequences. That's what draws people to him in the first place, and it is why, to this day, at almost 50 years of age, the man has managed to stay relevant and in his respective domain. "The Pale Emperor," Manson's ninth studio album, proves to fans and haters alike that he isn't ever going to back down, and you will never forget his message nor his iconic moniker.
The opening track, 'Killing Strangers,' is a heavy,bassy tune that unabashedly speaks about certain truths and prepares the listener for what is to come. The funky, guitar riff laden 'Deep Six' has the classic Manson vibe of embracing death and destruction with a modern twist. Using a broad theme of Gods and Goddesses combined with death and suicide undertones is just one of many ways Manson expresses himself artistically, including the video for this track, which is weird and artsy and exactly what I would expect from Manson. In 'Third Day of a Seven Day Binge,' Manson speaks to all of us, as he describes, just one of many ways to disappear into yourself following the dissolution of a relationship, using tongue in cheek lyrics to further encompass his views. Dancing around the idea of death and suicide as a means of reaching a higher plane of existence comes heavily into play in 'The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles,' slowing down the pace of the album just a bit. Passion and possession are ever present in 'Warship My Wreck,' a vengeful track that showcases Manson's trademark animosity.
Sacrifice and soul searching are the themes of the next track, 'Slave Only Dreams to be King,' leaving a despondent feeling in the listener as they feel the plight of the speaker. Poking his finger into the proverbial religious pie to cause a stir is a classic M.O. Of Manson, and comes across quite strongly in 'Devil Beneath My Feet,' a mocking, hate filled track that again speaks of Manson's apathy towards the public's view of him and his beliefs. He makes it no secret how he feels about organized religion, and uses his profession to deliver profound and deliberate messages to the masses. The ominous 'Birds of Hell Waiting' offers Manson's view on the bleakness we will supposedly be faced with in the afterlife, chanting, "this is your Death's desire" to emphasize his tone and overall tenacity. The recurring theme of Gods and existentialism pops up in 'Cupid Carries a Gun,' a love song of sorts that rips apart all of the conventional themes that we associate with love. The last track, 'Odds of Even,' finds Manson resolute in his choices, knowing that eventually when we are gone from this earth nothing but our legacy will remain, and the ghosts of our triumphs and failures will always resonate in the future endeavors of those like us.
Marilyn Manson has for years asked "What happened to all of the rock stars? What happened to embracing your status and symbolic nature and living life to the fullest, regardless of how tedious it may be?" Now, I am of course not an advocate for the senseless use of drugs and alcohol, but that is a mere fraction of what the so called definition of a rock star is supposed to be. Manson has delivered a great album with poignant lyrics and without an ounce of regret or shame. He fully acknowledges that he has made poor decisions in the past and will probably continue to do so, but it is a choice and as an artist that is what your job is all about. I for one am happy and impressed with the effort and have regained some of my respect for Manson as an artist, and because he refuses to compromise his style yet manages to evolve and change himself with every album, whether it be for the worse or the better. As long as he keeps it up, I will most assuredly be giving in and as Manson he puts it, taking a trip down "The Long, Hard Road Out of Hell.'