Here is where I clap my hands, squealing and giggling like a shoolgirl on crack. Or maybe speed? Lots of speed.
I've been a Manson obsessive since the end of the eight grade, and now in second year of university, I still haven't shaken it. My parents and my pop-loving friends were convinced it was a phase that would pass with my like of black clothing. I wear less black now, but I have stood strong as other young fans declared him a sell-out as an easy way to quit listening, and my boyfriend got rid of and re-bought the entire discography.
I find it fitting that it is now six years less a month after my first taste of Manson that the new album comes out. My first exposure was a mix tape with songs from Smelles Like Children and Antichrist Superstar that the biggest Mansonite in my school grudgingly recorded for me, then threw at me in the halls. Gotta love 13-year-old Mansonites.
I will get my heartache out of the way before really delving into this (un)godly abum. The band in its latest incarnation is lacking one Twiggy Ramirez, blissfully decadent bassist and the second craziest member of the band (Manson himself being the craziest), who was just odd enough to spend entire interviews droning things like “whiskey and speed.”
The lineup has changed a few times, but Twiggy was one of those essentials that added both the talent and the shock to the band. (Fans of Nine Inch Nails may remember that after opening for a Nails show, Twiggy then ran back onstage and attempted to give ex-Nail Robin Finck head.)
So what about Twiggy’s replacement? Tim Skold, a veteran of the scene. He used to work with KMFDM, and he is an amazing talent. It only took me two times through the CD to accept that Twiggy was gone, and I think it may even be time for me to finally get off my lazy butt and actually look into KMFDM.
Let’s start broad. The packaging. All modern-era Manson (anything after Smells Like Children) has had really sexy, if intensely disturbing, images and layouts. Anti-Christ Superstar was full of mystical transformations and sexuality, Mechanical Animals went full into androgyny glam, and Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) dipped back into sexual mysticism, adding in Christianity and the tarot just to keep everyone on their toes.
The Golden Age of Grotesque is just scary. There’s a lot of close-ups of Manson in pure-white makeup with redded out eyes, or pure-black makeup with whited-out eyes, always staring... Faces creep me out. Eyes creep me out even worse. These pictures are going to give me evil dreams and nightmares for I don’t know how long.
So onto the music. The two main influences on this album, to anyone who hasn’t been paying attention to our dark ring leader recently (though who has?), are absinthe and da-da. Absinthe is a very potent hallucinogenic alcohol that’s been illegal in most of the first world for quite a long time. Da-da is...
Well, it’s a philosophical movement, but don’t let that intimidate you. It’s anti-intellectual. It’s proving that there is no art, there is no mind, nothing is real or matters. Really, it was a bunch of university kids in the early 1900’s who were bored with middle Europe middle class living and wanted to stand out and be important by making total fools of themselves (quite aware that they were doing so). These people wrote poems that made no sense, danced bawdily, and compared skulls to their lovers. They would have loved Manson.
We open with Thaeter. (Yes, that’s how it’s spelled.) After watching the DVD, it’s very difficult to listen to this moody sound-obsessed instrumental. We’ll get into that later. This sets the mood, chilling and not quite right or entirely on the mark. I felt the blood just drain out of me the first time I heard this, and it was the most affected I’ve been by any song in years.
Moving on to This is the New Sh!t.
I had heard that this new album was going to be more electronic, but my god... This is a hyper-industrial side of Marilyn Manson. The music is as pitch black as Anti-Christ Superstar, but it pushes the electronic side heavier than even Mechanical Animals did.
Having the first words on an album be “everything has been said before” is daring. This song is urgent, as Manson hisses and chants through the verses, and sings with harmonies reminiscent of Apple of Sodom (one of his tracks off The Lost Highway soundtrack). All the while, a steady bassline tries to drown you and odd electronic strains dance around your head.
mOBSCENE is the first single. The one you’ll probably never see the video for, or never more than once if you’re lucky enough to catch it that first time. Manson swore in interviews that this album would be his come back. At noon, I was the third person to have bought his album at the store I went to. Sorry, Manson...
This song’s a good attempt at a single. It has a driving beat, something his teen fans can scream along to, and that cute little chearleader insisting “be obscene, baby, and not heard!” It’s definitely going to become one of Manson’s classics, to those who still remember he exists.
Doll-Dagga Buzz Buzz Ziggety Zag is a title truly inspired by da-da. A senseless philosophy, but at least they had fun, right? This song is incredibly bass heavy, but then...so’s all Manson, from every album except maybe Mechanical Animals. More real guitar on this track, and the tune is incredibly addictive. This song begs for a dance floor mosh pit, and with lyrics like “are the thug rock kids are playing, all punk god angels saying,” it’s definitely demanding such treatment.
For a more deadly moshpit, Use You Fist and Not Your Mouth is quite the item. At first glance, this song led be creepy industrial noise, raw heavy guitar (think ‘broken’ era Nine Inch Nails) and plain bass is even less sensible than ACS’s Irresponsible Hate Anthem. Lyrics like “this is a black collar song, put it in your finger and sing along” don’t help that impression. I appreciate that there’s no target in the song (target hate songs get me riled; I can’t justify them), and Manson saves himself in the bridge, with a bit of pseudo-melodic desperation that brings memories of The Minute of Decay (again, ACS). “I woke up today and wished for tomorrow. I don’t want to even be myself.”
The Golden Age of Grotesque, Manson admits, was written entirely on absinthe. It shows. The carnival feeling of songs like Dope Hat made it into this, slowed down to a sleazy, stumbling kilter as Manson manages to get out words about monkeys and Gloominati, intentionally going painfully sharp on all his top notes. You can practically hear the slur in his voice. It will take a while to properly grow on me, but it doesn’t bother me.
Next comes the first song by Manson obviously aimed at someone. (s)AINT. Must we assume it’s aimed straight at his famous ex, anorexic actress Rose McGowan? “You wanted perfekt? You got your perfekt. But now I’m too perfekt for someone like you.” Also, the childish taunt of having an f, c, and k, and only needing “a b!tch like yoU”. It’s caustic, and so easy to sing along to at the top of your lungs, aimed at any girl you’ve ever wanted to strangle.
Ka-boom Ka-boom is a bit of a surprise... Because during the title moments, you can hear the wear and tear on Manson’s voice. He sounds so much older uttering those sound effects than any place else in his career. It’s almost sobering. Manson talks about the trash of the industry in this song, and a “depraved new world.” Very sleazy. Sleaze is always good.
Speaking of sleaze, we move onto Slutgarden. Can I even type that title here? This song is so sleazy, Nick Cave must be envious. And it’s not even the sleaziest on this album! Musically simple, led mostly by bass and drums. Manson growls out “and when I said sweet, I meant dirty,” and you believe it. Gladly.
Now, Spade, the only slow song on the album. But not that soft. Lyrically, the strongest. Musically, the truest to industrial. I would have hoped for more songs like this, actually, desperate, aching, and perfect. “Burn your empty rain down on me.”
Para-noir brings us back to being knee-deep in filth. The verses are spoken by a girl who sounds oversexed and awesome. The booklet only says this of what she’s speaking: “(The women of the world list their reasons for f*cking me.)” The reasons vary, but she always makes them sound superb. Manson responds to this with monotone eff you’s back at her, raging that he has a right to hate her. It’s a mind-trip, and an awesome, dirty song.
The Bright Young Things is as bitter as we’ve come to exist from Manson. Raging instruments that fall to pulsing computer bass sounds and rise up again. This is the follow-up to Disposable Teens (Holy Wood), more or less. A rebel’s lifestyling song. “Good for nothing but being everything that’s bad.”
Better of Two Evils...contains a lot of language I can’t put up on this site. It rages along in heavy rock-industrial pacing, and we notice that Manson likes saying mutha-effa (or something like that) a lot now. I can’t recall it in any of his previous albums, but it does come up a lot in this album. This is his reaction to being chased and scapegoated by the media, but he is a few years out of the loop; people aren’t trying to follow him anymore, which is a pity.
Vodevil opens with a corroding piano loop that bring you right back to the cafes were the fine young things who thought up da-da hung out, getting drunk and plotting the destruction of art. Then the dark rock strains come pouring over it, and Manson starts moaning and crooning. “Kiss, baby, kiss. Beg, baby, beg. Suck, baby, suck.” Filthy, sleazy, and good fun.
It closes with a pseudo-instrumental, Obsequey (The Death of Art). More of the corroded piano, moody noises, and many layers of voices that you can’t quite make out (that I think may be off the DVD). An easy come down from a very intense album.
All in all? This album is better than Mechanical Animals, not as good as Holy Wood. I’ll have to give it a while to test where it sits against Anti-Christ Superstar (and I always leave the first two albums on their own standing, since it’s practically a different band in tone and sound). It’s disappointing to know no one’s going to buy it... And if you were even thinking about it, please do go out and buy it now!
Pick up the copy with the DVD is you are daring.
But only if you are incredibly daring.
Let me take a moment to breathe, and assure myself I don’t have to go back down and sort through those images again before I talk about this short movie by Manson.
Doppleherz. Double Heart, if I’m not mistaken. Gottfriend Helnwein, controversial German artist, had a part in this, and it seems pseudo-planned, but mostly stoned/wasted/drunk candid shots in the creepiest locations and situations to have ever existed.
The soundtrack consists of Thaeter being played over and over and over (for 26 minutes, the length of this film) and stilted, monotonous, broken words being stumbled through on top of this. A note at the end of the film leaves us to believe these words may have been intended as a vocal suicide note from Manson. Words like “I’m a canvas that bleeds and I’m painted with fingers”, “everything in this world has already been created so we can only dream up new ways of destroying them,” and “I want downloadable suicide” repeated over and over and over, twisted themselves and their speaker. You can hear as his voice breaks, as he can’t quite say the words he’s trying to say, as he sniffs and is maybe even crying.
Just the noises are enough to knock me senseless, before letting me go cower in the corner.
It’s like David Lynch directed it, only even David Lynch would be more merciful. If you’re a fan of Manson for the music, don’t bother with the DVD edition, you’re just going to be scared off. If you appreciate scary, disturbing art flicks that destroy your mind, then maybe you’re almost prepared.
I want to say it doesn’t make sense, but it would be a lie. There’s almost a plot, it’s just all broken in pieces, fixated on the oddest images. There are two basic processions spliced together as Manson drones his bitter words in a tired voice.
Number one is Manson in (I assume) his attack, with a bunch of latex faces in a box. He ties some on with a blindfold, as a woman we must assume is his girlfriend, fetish model Dita Von Teese, stands at the end of the room. We mostly just see the back of her legs. He ends up painting his face black, whiting out his eyes and mouth, then throwing a hissy fit and pushing the makeup all around his face in greying decay. You can feel the pain coming off of him the entire time.
The second situation is far stranger. The entire band goes driving, comes upon “Siamese twins” in the road (two half-naked girls with black hair wearing fetish leather items that lace up; their sleeves happen to be laced together, trapping them back to back), kidnaps them, and brings them home for Manson, where the “twins” perform in his bed as he watches. It’s uniquely disturbing, and I’ll have the guts to watch it again in a week or so.
Another thing that gets spliced in near the end (though in flashes so quick, you have to pause it to make out the image) is Dita (who has such a classic Hollywood face) holding some sort of a knife or something long and sharp, sitting by a blonde girl who can’t be any older than 13.
I don’t claim to understand, but it is visually amazing, it’s just so much more disturbing than his music has ever been, and I think he may do a lot to alienate some of his fans by including this DVD.
Anyway, I’ll be doing my best to spread the word and get people to start buying Manson’s music again. This is a strong project, and well worth the money.