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Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor | Album Review

Find out what we thought of Marilyn Manson’s ninth studio album here.

Source: Album Cover

Anyone who’s had their ear to the ground lately knows there’s something going on down there in Marilyn Manson’s world. It started with high profile acting appearances in Californication, Once Upon a Time and Sons of Anarchy. It continued with a collaboration with Tyler Bates, a man better known for his film scores than being in bands. Alongside The Pale Emperor, he would spend 2014 working on the soundtrack for the year’s highest grossing film, Guardians of the Galaxy.

2015 was always going to be a significant year for Marilyn Manson. The seeds were sown when references to the number 15 appeared all over 1998’s Mechanical Animals. Some will tell you that was the band’s last great album. Others will say it was 2000’s Holy Wood, or even 2003’s Golden Age of Grotesque. Few will mention the three albums to come out since. They all had their charm, though, particularly the most recent – 2012’s Born Villain – which sounded more like a Marilyn Manson record than anything for the past ten years. The consensus was that it was a step in the right direction, but there were still more steps to take.

Cue The Pale Emperor. A snippet of Cupid Carries a Gun was used as the opening theme for the TV show Salem. What the clip revealed was some very Marilyn Manson sounding tom drum rhythms, and some very un-Marilyn Manson sounding acoustic guitar. Manson has been talking about the blues more and more frequently in interviews, and this was the first real sign of it crossing over to his musical output. The influences carry across the rest of the album, too – most clearly in the lead guitar licks that are prominent throughout. You can hear it in the man’s voice, as well. Sure, it’s gnarled and scarred with the passing of time, but it’s on top form here, sitting well with some of the more subdued instrumentals. His screams are on point, and as the instruments drop out at the end of The Devil Beneath My Feet‘, it almost sounds like it could be Tom Waits singing.

The Antichrist Superstar hasn’t gone soft on us just yet, though. There are plenty of moments on The Pale Emperor that sound like the industrial metal Manson made his name with. The first official singleDeep Six being the best example, whileSlave Only Dreams To Be King features some harsh, abrasive guitar leads that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in 1996. The full version of ‘Cupid Carries A Gun‘ offers up a lot more than the initial clip suggested, too, with a distorted guitar line appearing at the end straight out of the classic Manson songbook.

The Pale Emperor is exactly what Marilyn Manson should be writing at this point in his career, and life. It’s mellowed out but still sharp as a knife. It’s a departure but it’s still hanging out in the right neighbourhoods. It’s Marilyn Manson’s year – MMXV.

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