Review Summary: Manson returns with his best album in over a decade.
Born Villain is the eighth studio album from Marilyn Manson, and his first on his own new label "Hell, etc". Because of this, the album sounds more stripped and raw compared to his last few albums. When writing the lyrics for "Antichrist Superstar", Marilyn sat in his dark, dingy apartment and here, he has done the same thing in hopes of capturing previous magic. Does Born Villain do that? The answer is a no. But at this point in Manson's career, he doesn't have to.
Sonically, this album has a very dark atmosphere reminiscent of his early works. Songs like "The Gardener" and "Murderers Are Getting Prettier Every Day" tell an interesting story. The highlight of the album has to be "No Reflection". It was hailed as his comeback single and it is easy to see why. His trademark croons are there, and the dynamics are constantly changing. Twiggy was back on "The High End Of Low" but there was something missing. The guitars lacked punch and here, that certainly isn't the case. Opener "Hey, Cruel World..." features manic vocals and screeching guitars. Without constants from a major label, Manson is free to do whatever he wants, singing about sadomasochism in "Pistol Whipped" and the rape of Persephone in "Overneath The Path Of Misery", a song which is interesting but ultimately goes nowhere.
There are more experimental songs such as "Breaking The Same Old Ground" which is a phrase that many reviewers have used to describe the entire album. It is the most emotional song on the record, with a synth complimenting Manson's uncharacteristically tender vocals. The track is a triumph and a great way to close the album. "Slo-Mo-Tion" is a very good song too, with a glam rock feel to it and a rich, groovy bass. It sounds like it would be right at home on "Mechanical Animals".
An issue that sticks out like a sore thumb is the length. At 59 minutes the album feels bloated at times and because the tracks all have a similar feel to them, some listeners will lose interest quickly. But this album is definitely a grower. Patience is required and repeated listens will reveal new things. This is the album fans have been waiting for since "Holy Wood" and while it won't please everyone it is the band's best material in over a decade and it will be interesting to see what direction they take next.