Review Summary: Marilyn takes baby steps back to regaining his true skill.
After the mixed reception of Marilyn Manson's sixth album, 'Eat Me, Drink Me', something needed to change. Marilyn needed to get his edge back and get himself out of the pit that has been hindering his musical abilities for a while now. While 'The High End of Low' doesn't exactly regain the industrial shocker's mojo entirely, you can certainly see steps in the right direction being taken.
The overall feeling of this album takes a lot of elements from his previous endeavor; a more somber, emotional trip than you're used to from the band, but this time, he gets a bit angrier and tries to regain the shock factor (to varying levels of effectiveness). The opening track, "Devour", is a mostly slow and sad sounding love track that ends with a very heavy riff and Manson's screaming, which has remained as impressive as ever despite his withering vocals. What follows is the rough, industrial, and extremely heavy "Pretty as a Swastika". One of the more enjoyable tracks on the album for all Manson fans. Lyrically focusing on a dark romance with loud, distorted guitars and one of the most headbang worthy choruses in Manson's discography. Not a song to pass up. "Leave a Scar" has a catchy riff to it and is thoroughly enjoyable, it being of higher energy than "Devour" but not as crazy as "Pretty as a Swastika".
The first few tracks make this album feel like everything that 'Eat Me, Drink Me' should have been, and nowhere is this more prevalent than in "Running to the Edge of the World". Somewhat reminiscent to 'Mechanical Animals''s "The Last Day on Earth", this track features fantastically emotional vocals and dark, yet lovely guitar chords. The writing is also very Manson with lines such as "If God crossed us, we'd take all his drugs, burn his money and his house down, and wait for the fire to spread." If his last album went by this song's example, it would have been an infinitely better album.
Acoustically focussed songs like what I just mentioned, as well as "Four Rusted Horses", may be the focus, but it also has its fair share of harder rock songs, but also keeping a bit of a pop feel. "Arma-goddamn-motherf*ckin-geddon" has a dancey beat and a poppy bass line and drum work. Despite how it sounds, it still feels like a Manson song and is very enjoyable. The lyrics remind me of the "trying too hard" feel of the band's debut. It may be a bit silly, but it's still fun. "We're From America" is a near-blatant parody of the classic song "Kids in America" with lyrics satirizing the United States' narcisism and patriotism. It's a fantastic song, being heavily pop inspired which adds to the satirical feel even more.
This album is certainly not without it's issues despite having several stand out moments. "I Want To Kill You Like They Do in the Movies" is the nine minute Marilyn Manson song that no one asked for. It's simply too damn long. It completely fails to remain interesting for its ridiculous length. "WOW" is an interesting song instrumentally, feeling like an odd combination of Nine Inch Nails and Lady Gaga. The vocals kind of ruin it, with Manson forcably speaking in rhythm with a very American accent that sounds extremely out of place. The main issue with the package, though, is that anything that isn't a good track is simply a boring one. There's not much of an in between. "15", "Into the Fire", "Wight Spider", they're not necessarily awful, but they are all unmemorable in their own ways.
'The High End of Low' has an appropriate name. Of his main discography, this one is certainly the best of anything that could be considered below great. It's not as bad as it's predecessor, but it certainly lacks the thing that Manson need to get back on his feet. A surplus of mediocre and unremarkable tracks pile a bit too much on the great tracks that do live in this album, and that kills it.