Review Summary: Manson’s 7th Studio Album sees him mixing elements from all of his previous releases with some superb musicianship and songwriting courtesy of the newly returned Twiggy Ramirez.
In 2007, Manson finally resurfaced into the world of music with a very personal album after disappearing for a long time and entering into a depressive state following a dark, depressive period in his life. Eat Me, Drink Me received a mixed response from the world. While it was a good album for Manson to set himself straight with and emerge back into the music world, it wasn’t nearly as good or successful as “Antichrist Superstar”, “Mechanical Animals”, and “Holy Wood” (his greatest works). Many wrote him off and convinced themselves that Manson was no longer relevant to the world and that he “had his time already”. Then, something happened. The seemingly impossible became a reality. Tim Skold (whom Manson has collaborated with a lot on his records as of late) left the band and Manson reunited with none other than Twiggy Ramirez (his former bassist and chief partner in crime) after missing his presence in the band and wanting to play with his best friend once more. Fans everywhere were stunned and overjoyed at this move, and so the duo began recording a new album with the band after the touring for Eat Me, Drink Me ended last year. That album is “The High End of Low”.
Expectations for this album were unbelievably high and to a high degree, Manson delivers. You can tell right away that the good music Manson is capable of making is back when you hear the first track, “Devour”. It opens with a clean, ambient guitar riff by Twiggy and then the murder-suicide story lyrics come in. The song is dark but yet so beautiful and intricate at the same time with Manson screaming “I can’t sleep until I devour you” like a deranged killer towards its ending. It serves as a superb album opener but ends abruptly. “Pretty as a Swastika” sees Manson at his heaviest on the record and features a strong and heavy beat and bass line that gets your head banging like the older songs on “Antichrist Superstar” and “Holy Wood”. The album’s first single, “Arma-Goddamn-Mother***in’-Geddon”, is driven by a very strong bass line from Twiggy and features the ‘silliest’ lyrics on the record but the song is classic Manson and is a fun song to listen to. “Unkillable Monster” features a really catchy clean guitar riff in the verses and a great chorus as Manson screams “you never said I’d end up like this” along with driving guitars. Most of the songs on here could be considered a ‘return to form’ of sorts, but Manson has grown up. This is not “Mechanical Animals” or “Antichrist Superstar” but it’s what he sounds like right now in this era today.
One of the album’s outstanding tracks and an absolute highlight is “Into the Fire”. The song is beautiful and fantastic, rivaling the amazing “Coma White” and every other ballad he has written as his greatest work. The song features a very depressing backdrop led by a sad piano melody from Ginger Fish. The song builds up as Manson weeps the lyrics into the listener’s ears, reaching an epic chorus that defies everything on the record. When the guitar solo comes, you will give Twiggy credit as an amazing guitar player if you haven’t already. The solo goes perfectly with the overall vibe of the song as Manson pours his dark and destroyed heart out into the music; he wants you to feel the pain he is conveying here. It would have been the perfect way to end the album, but for some reason he felt a need to put 15 on the record (a song which he wrote on his birthday, 1/5). 15 is, as Manson describes it, “the ending credits’ playing after the album (my story) is over”. It plays like that on the record. The chorus is good, but it is meant as an ending and doesn’t touch a lot of the other tracks on the album in terms of how good it is. Another standout is the 9 minute epic “I Want to Kill You like They Do in the Movies”. Being one of the longest songs Manson has ever written, it begins and ends like a movie itself. Featuring great guitars and bass and a very dark and chilling backdrop, Manson puts out some of the best lyrics on the record. It sends an unsettling chill down your spine when you hear him speak in a near whisper – “Line up, Roll camera, you pretend, I’ll pretend and….cut, cut, cut CUT, CUT, CUT” from his darkness.
The lyrical department isn’t exactly lacking on this album, but some songs like “Leave a Scar” and “WOW” are about past relationships with burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese and actress Evan Rachel Wood that Manson obviously felt the need to vent on this record, and might not be welcomed by some. The Music, however, is really great all around. Twiggy did a phenomenal job on the guitars and the bass is very present and audible on the record just like it used to (and should) be. The drums are also good but have always been simplistic in Manson’s music. They continue that trend but tend to work giving everything a great beat behind it. Chris Vrenna also does a great job with the keyboards and synths as well. This is evident on songs like “Arma-Goddamn-Mother***in-Geddon”, “I Want to Kill You like They Do in the Movies” and “WOW”.
In its conclusion, “The High End of Low” is a superb effort by Marilyn Manson. It marks the true return of the shock rocker to the music scene and he has a new fire that is present on this album and the return of Twiggy Ramirez makes his music sound so much better than it has over the recent years. It still can’t beat his previous work, but if this is a ‘new beginning’ of sorts for him, then I’m sure a lot of his fans (me included) will be interested in hearing what he has to offer in the near future. Give this album a listen…if it doesn’t impress you as a whole, some of the better tracks should.