Born this way
THE glory days of platinum sales and public outrage are behind Marilyn Manson, and yet, with the degree of difficulty set at infinity, he’s written a solid new album.
Born Villain opens with creepy vocals and a tornado of heavy guitars. Manson yelling ‘‘ fake’’ over and over could be a nod to his last two albums.
Things took a bad turn in 2007 with the low- selling Eat Me Drink Me. But that wasn’t rock bottom – 2009’ s The High End of Low was actually the high end of nothing, his worst album by a wide mile. The 43- year- old shock- rocker appeared done.
That’s why this album is something of a surprise. Who knew he could still write hooks? No Reflection won’t trouble Adele and One Direction at the top of the charts but it is a hummable tune that might earworm listeners hours after hearing it.
On Born Villain, Manson does a better job of rendering light and shade.
Sure, he’s still a one- trick pony but at least the pony has different gears this time around. Musically his goth- rock circus incorporates some punk, industrial metal and glam- rock. Pistol Whip is a classic Manson slow jam equipped with dramatic, depraved lyrics and vivid imagery; the stomping, marching Overneath the Path of Misery harks back to the band’s Mechanical Animals days; Lay Down Your Arms is a heavy, slothful dirge; Slo- Mo- Tion strips away his often- favoured theatrical production styles in favour of a raw performance.
Outrageous, brash, entertaining, Manson is all about the show. His favourite themes of blood, dirt, Biblical images, death, sex, violence and self- obsession all get a run here. His delivery style is, as ever, talking verses and shouty choruses.
Murderers are Getting Prettier Every Day sounds like a possible ode to Amanda Knox but nothing in the lyrics of this super- heavy, fast paced, late album metal romp point to her.
The title track hints at a nature- versusnurture idea – are people like Manson born to be villains or did he choose to play that role?
For an album that was never going to push any boundaries that Manson hasn’t already pushed before, it was funny to hear Breaking the Same Old Ground. His self- awareness is beyond comical.
But then comes more comedy gold, a cover of Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain with Johnny Depp on guitar. It’s messy and silly and was probably recorded in one take. It’s also a weird, light and fluffy end to an album that is 99 per cent dark and nasty.