At this point in time, what can be said about Marilyn Manson? Will he ever go away? It doesn’t look like it. But based on his latest studio effort, The Pale Emperor, we may find ourselves no longer wanting him to.
Manson rose to fame in the second half of the ‘90s with his unique brand of shock rock and his trilogy of albums Antichrist Superstar (1996), Mechanical Animals (1998), and Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) (2000). After that point he released a slough of mediocre material if for no other reason than to let the listening public know that he hadn’t gone anywhere. But for the first time in a long time that same listening public might find itself questioning their assumption that he no longer had anything to say, musically at least.
Far and away the coolest track on this album is “Deep Six”. The guitar line at the very beginning carries with it overtones of Manson’s cover of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” from 1995, but after that point things take a surprising turn when the drumbeat kicks in and listeners know they are going to be in for quite a different and groovy ride.
Another song of note is the mellow yet intense “Third Day of a Seven Day Binge”, which features Manson’s trademark whiny baritone vocals.
A point of interest with The Pale Emperor is that Manson’s longtime friend and collaborator Twiggy Ramirez didn’t actually perform on the album, despite still being credited as a member of the band. This marks the first album Ramirez has not worked on since his return to Marilyn Manson in 2008, the previous two albums being 2009’s The High End of Low and 2012’s Born Villain (QRO review). Details surrounding his lack of involvement are lacking.
The rest of the numbers that make up The Pale Emperor are fairly forgettable and while the work overall makes a good showing that Manson would like to at least remain in the background of our society’s collective consciousness, it ultimately falls short with regard to the impact that many of his earlier albums had.