EDIT: Like a lot of albums from Manson...this one fell off quick.
Wait...this doesn’t suck dogshit? Oh!
Marilyn ‘Edgeboy’ Manson is an artist that, even though some if not most of his music is just eargrading to me, i’ve always admired. It’s easy to look at his edgy, make-up faced appearance and dismiss him as someone who is just doing this out of shock, but not only has he made some pretty compelling music over the years, he’s also one of the more progressively ‘punk’ artists to come out of the last decade. To say that he’s just doing what he does for the sake of shock would be missing the point to what he does so well...even if in later years he’s given a damn good case on why people are missing the point...because he himself is missing the point.
Look, I like his back catalogue a lot. Hell, I from time to time come back to records like ‘Portrait of an American Family’, the Trilogy of albums that came after that and even on occasion ‘The Pale Emperor’. He can and does make excellent music, but as of late? My god has he missed his own point. ‘Heaven Upside Down’ was an aggravating and frustrating listen with how blatantly he was sticking to the ‘look at me, i’m an edgy boy!’ concept with no bite or depth to it, so much so that I thought that we were watching the man destroy his own legacy right before our very eyes.
And with a title like ‘WE ARE CHAOS’, with a producer like Shooter Jennings, and with a single like the title track? It seemed that Marylin Manson was going full country, donning a cowboy hat and grabbing himself the old acoustic guitar! Frankly speaking, I was expecting the absolute worst. I even told friends that I was only listening to this album to make fun of it at best.
...So why is this not even that bad?
Well, the first thing that this album does right is that it ditches the ideology that haunted ‘Heaven Upside Down’, and while doesn’t completly throw away the edge (I mean it’s still a Marilyn Manson album), there is a surprising amount of nuence and weight to the songs he is making here. It really does remind me (in a good way) of his older records mixed with the blusey nature of The Pale Emperor, with a certain amount of punch being delivered here that I was not expecting. Tracks like ‘RED, BLACK AND BLUE’, ‘PERFUME’ and ‘DON’T STEP ON THE DEAD’ shows that Marilyn still can kick the door down when he wants to, with punchy industrial-styled guitars, huge drums and the signature scratchy vocals that fans have come to know and love from this man.
But to me, even though the results can be varied at best, the more interesting tracks come when Marylin is taking it down a peg, not trying to be the ‘Antichrist Superstar’ anymore and looking more inward at himself as a man rather then a character. In a lot of ways, tracks like the self titled ‘WE ARE CHAOS’, ‘PAINT ME WITH YOUR LOVE’ and ‘BROKEN NEEDLE’ are some of the most refreshing tracks that Marylin has made in a long, LONG time. While I originally HATED the title track as a single, hearing it with the album actually feels like i’m drinking a Sprite with how goddamn refreshing it is, especially from this guy! Hell, some of the guitars on tracks like ‘KEEP MY HEAD TOGETHER’ almost reminded me of something that Jack White would conjure up...which is something.
I’m not saying that Marilyn has made an album of the year, but from a pure songwriting standpoint, this is some of the most mature, nuanced and interesting material that Marylin Manson has put out in a good long while...but am I just saying that because this album is atually good or is it just because i’m blown away due to low expectations?
I think to answer that, I did have to relisten to Marilyn Mansons last album again. ‘Heaven Upside Down’ was an absolute slog to get through, with it’s draining lyrical content, boring instrumentals (even if JU$U$ CHRI$T has a nice instrumental) and just tedious song writing that makes the entire album feel so lifeless and soul draining. This album, on the other hand, not only gets rid of the dated elements from that last record, but addreniline shoots the heart with some of the most quote on quote ‘personal’ and ‘intimate’ tracks that Marilyn has written...maybe period? If you asked me if I thought the song titled ‘PAINT YOU WITH MY LOVE’ was going to be one of my favorites, I would have told you to shoot me. And while the chorus is cheese factory at best, the layers of intrumentation, from acoustic guitars, piano, drums and vocals, sound dense and weighty, like they have something to day. And it’s not usual that that comes from Marilyn goddamn Manson.
That being said, this is not a perfect album. Like Marilyn Manson himself, it’s filled with rough edges that really should have been ironed out a long, LONG time ago. The one that springs to mind right off the gate is the production, especially vocally. Usually production does not annoy me at all, and while a lot of the album does sound pretty good (especially considering that the production is coming from Shooter Jennings of all people), some songs just sound way too ‘swampy’ for my liking, especially in the vocal range. I know that Marilyns vocals are always going to have that low gravel to them, but they way that they sound, it almost sounds like a robot trying to sound like Marilyn as opposed to Marilyn himself. It sounds gross, but not in a way that is entirely interesting. Just kinda sounds like not a lot of care went into his vocals at times.
But I still can reccomend this album. It is a giant step forward for Marilyn Manson, and proves that there was a good reason that he stuck around after the 90s were over. It proves something that I have always been trying to tell people when discussing this artist: that he is more then just his identity. He’s more then just an edgy character like a Rob Zombie. There is thought and care taken place withen these albums, and while this certainly isn’t going to impress people that aren’t informed on his style (Side note, if you want to get into this guys work, then the ‘Trilogy’ of albums he made in the 90s, ‘Antichrist Superstar’, ‘Mechanical Animals’ and ‘Holy Wood’ and the ones to go for) as someone who has waited for Marylin to stop trying to sell his controveries and make some great music?
This was worth the wait.
...I’m going to loose a lot of credit because of this review aren’t I?
Favorite Jams: PAINT ME WITH YOUR LOVE, BROKEN NEEDLE, SOLVE COAGULA
Lest Favorite: HALF-WAY AND ONE STOP FORWARD
EDIT: After thinking about it, yeah, this thing isn't an amazing album by it's own, but a really good showing in the right direction for Marilyn Manson in his career at the moment.