Review Summary: You'll find Manson at his best and his worst with album number 5.
Manson’s band of eccentrics have always been a little different, many fans will know or be aware of Marilyn Manson’s concept trilogy, titled the ‘Triptych trilogy’. These three albums follow the rise and fall of Adam Kadmon, the story starts at Holy Wood then works its way to Mechanical Animals right through to 1996’s industrial, raw animal, Antichrist Superstar. While there is nothing officially set in stone with Manson’s story throughout the three albums (it’s all very vague), they do have individual concepts. Regardless, one can’t deny a lot of thought and effort went into the lyrics for these three LP’s. Put the great lyrics and voice of Manson with the musical efforts of Twiggy, Ginger, Gacy, Zim Zum, Daisy and John 5, Marilyn Manson has been a force to be reckoned with over the years.
There is a three year gap between Holy Wood and ‘The Golden Age’ and a lot can change in three years, as Manson watched long-time bass player and songwriter Twiggy Ramirez leave the band due to creative differences, leaving the song writing duties to John 5 and Tim Skold – the replacement on bass. On top of that, Gacy wasn’t in the right frame of mind at the start of the albums conception and he didn’t want to put a lot of creative input into the songs, leaving Manson himself to create a lot of the electronic parts on the songs.
With new members and different roles to play in the band with the odd drama within the Manson camp, has ‘The Golden Age...’ managed to maintain the same standard as the Triptych trilogy? Unfortunately, no. The main flaws actually land on Manson himself. Lyrics and a concept to his albums are what his fans know him for, but this time both of these take a step back. There isn’t a concept this time round but a theme, using Mel Gordon's Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin book as the albums main inspiration.
Lyrically (and sometimes vocally) is where it takes the biggest hit, as Manson uses repetition as his weapon this time round. If you were to listen to 5 random tracks from ‘The Golden Age...’ the chances are 4 out of 5 of them will have Manson repeating a selected string of words from that song over and over. The only reason I can see him going down this road is he’s attempting to create catchy hooks, but they just come across lazy.
If it isn’t the hooks that set the songs back, it’s some cheesy lyrics or a really naff vocal line that kills it; ‘Doll-Dagga Buzz-Buzz Ziggety-Zag’ and ‘Ka Boom Ka Boom’ suffer from the dreaded repetition (as you can probably guess from the titles), while the title track suffers from a really odd vocal line where Manson picks certain words and starts going high pitched, It’s not only weird it becomes irritating, fast. You’ll even come across songs like ‘Slutgarden’ that has a great chorus that is both catchy and heavy, but ends up being ruined overall when you hear Manson say “I memorize the words to the porno movies”, which, to be frank, left me cringing.
The album isn’t a total disaster though, musically this album is wonderful. Everything on the album sounds massive. ‘This is the New ***’ is a perfect example, as soon as it hits the chorus it’s like being hit by a brick wall. This formula is also used on other songs like ‘Use Your Fist and Not Your Mouth’, ‘(s)AINT’ and ‘Mobscene’. It’s in these types of songs where Manson really shines vocally. I’d even go as far to say this is the album he sounds his best; his vocals are really raspy, but they pack a massive punch and mould into the heavy sound the instruments are creating. It’s a really refreshing sound for Manson and if the album packed more punches like this it would be a lot more enjoyable.
I have a lot of mixed feelings with TGAOG, on the one hand this is a record that has some of Manson’s finest work to date, but on the other hand some ideas don’t pay off. Manson is by far the weakest thing on this album, with, what seems to be, rushed lyrics and some really odd or corny melodies put in songs. Maybe if the album wasn’t 17 songs long and they condensed it down to 11 or 12 it would have stood up a lot stronger. Musically the album is fantastic. The album is really well produced and not only creates that really heavy sound, it creates a great atmosphere that remains consistent throughout.
Compared to his previous works it pales in comparison. On its own it’s a solid and entertaining album that overstays its welcome a little.
Well worth checking out.