"We are sick, f*cked up and complicated", snarls Marilyn Manson over the title track of his 11th studio album, his first since 2017’s 'Heaven Upside Down'. The fans hoping to hear nostalgic echoes of the Antichrist Superstar’s career defining moments may walk away empty handed but not entirely disappointed. Although the 10-song release subtly draws comparisons with 1998’s 'Mechanical Animals', what we have here is an older Manson, far removed from the controversies and shock value that have simultaneously plagued and propelled him during his illustrious career.
But it’s not fair to compare the earlier iconic Marilyn Manson with the artist we see today. Although long gone are the industrial sounding drums and distorted guitars, this is a more mature Manson wearing comfortable slippers rather than the oversized studded platform boots he is more used to donning. However, it’s not just a case of going through the motions, Manson rocks; not just for the listener but for himself.
At just ten tracks, it’s an easy listen. Of course, some of them have more repeat playability than others, but there are none that feel like filler. The album was produced by Manson and southern country-rock star Shooter Jennings (the only child of Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter) and genuinely gets better with each listen. We are Chaos feels very apt in today’s climate and while the lyrics are as open to interpretation as ever, sometimes he just gets straight to the point: "If you say that we're ill / Just give us your pill / Hope we'll just go away / But once you've inhaled death / Everything else is perfume."
As a long-time admirer of Marilyn Manson, I was hoping for something to really rock out to. Admittedly I am one of the fans referenced in the first paragraph and was anticipating something heavier and darker, but this latest offering is very satisfactory. I was hooked from the first track and welcomed the slower, melodic style progression through the album to the finale with 'Broken Needle'; which for me at least, was the weakest addition out of the ten, but still not a bad song! Together the contrasting artists have created, if not perfected, a rousing ballad of angst for the Millennials.
Words: Mike Milenko
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