Review Summary: Very well put together. Although somewhat silly, it is effective in gripping you for a wild ride.
Manson's previous album, Holy Wood, declared that he wasn't a bad human being - merely an innocent victim in the wrong place at the wrong time. He completed the legendary "Triptych", a set of three albums that critiqued societal norms and set up Marilyn Manson as a character to be feared and loved. The Golden Age of Grotesque is a different project - though still worth hearing.
Manson completely discards his previous persona; rather than defending himself, he "wants all of the blame", and begs for hatred and fear, relishing the attention. It has a humorous but dark effect - opening with "This Is the New S**t", he makes it clear that he doesn't want to screw around, and with lyrics like "stand up and admit, tomorrow's never coming", the blatant nihilism is made clear. The primary highlight of this album, however, is the references to 1920s social life, with silly (and fun) wordplay, especially apparent in songs like "Doll Dagga Buzz Buzz Ziggety-Zag" and "mOBSCENE". Much quicker and more upbeat than any of his work, and yet ringing with an aura of misanthropy (such as that in Antichrist Superstar), the songs are fun to dance to.
John 5 and Tim Sk√∂ld were primary contributors to the album. The daring new sound found in the album works well, though the band has not forgotten its direction completely. "Use Your Fist and Not Your Mouth" and "Better of Two Evils" returns to the old anthemic Manson messages - albeit with a different style, as if they enjoy playing the songs - something different than what we've heard before. The title song is perhaps the strangest - and yet it sparks the thought, maybe it was intentional. It is almost impossible to decipher; "the 'scabaret sacrilegends', this is the golden age of grotesque" seems somewhat of an attempt to be shocking. What used to be a shock rock band still does achieve its purpose, but the shocks are pleasant... almost sarcastic. In "(s)AINT", Manson yells, "I've got an 'F' and a 'C' and I've got a 'K' too, and the only thing that's missing is a b***h like you". Still, there are perhaps references to Manson's earlier work; "Ka-Boom Ka-Boom" contains the lyric, "I like a big car cause I'm a big star/I make a big rock and roll hit" - possibly referring to "Lunchbox" ("I wanna grow up/I wanna be a big rock and roll star"). Now he's achieved that dream, and he loves it.
The album is not devoid of maturity; the song "‚ô*" discusses abusive relationships, and their tendency to spiral downwards. Manson continues this theme in "Para-Noir", a 6-minute piece that is highly unconventional - while girls whisper their reasons for having sex with Manson, he shows his hatred in a defiant "I don't need a reason to hate you the way I do". What is most impressing is the diverse instrumentals and how they match the vocals almost perfectly. Whether it is John 5 playing a heavy guitar riff or TimSk√∂ld a sinister bassline ("Slutgarden" is a prime example), it fits nicely. "Vodevil" closes the album, and soaked with sex, it closes the record with "we're five middle fingers on a motherf**king hand". With this sort of rebellion (with "absolutely no cause", says Manson in "The Bright Young Things"), it seems that Manson has reached his teenage roots once more. The only major flaw is that the songs are somewhat repetitive, and seem to almost force nonconformity. But while it may not be graceful, it works well.
"This Is the New ***"
"Use Your Fist and Not Your Mouth"