Marilyn Manson
The Pale Emperor


3.5
great

Review

by insomniac15 STAFF
January 17th, 2015 | 300 replies


Release Date: 01/19/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The blues got a hold on him.

The Antichrist superstar had a steep fall in relevancy during his 3-year break in the mid '00s. The Golden Age Of Grotesque was a commercial success, however, it signaled the end of an era. During the hiatus, Marilyn Manson toned down and softened in some ways, but still tried to maintain his edge. Unfortunately, instead of finding some middle ground to share his thoughts, he delved deep into mourning his failed marriage (in his own morbid and self destructive way) and later fetishized Evan Rachel Wood like a frustrated teenager. He never felt so vulnerable and his issues have drained those albums, especially The High End Of Low. Nevertheless, he was back on track with Born Villain, his first independent release after being dropped by Interscope. That album recaptured some of the essence and attitude, even though it was a limp step forward. If that balance had been achieved back in 2007, things could've been different for Manson these days.

Moving on from the troubled times, three years later we get to listen to The Pale Emperor. There has always been a central theme that tied the songs on each album and judging by the title (taken from Roman emperor Constantius I's nickname), we easily realize he's the pale emperor. Admittedly, the new cuts talk more about his thoughts and personal opinions in a direct manner, rather than using several characters or metaphors to express beliefs. At the same time, topics like his waning popularity and getting older might be reflected in the album's title too. The man has always been very aware of what's going around him and the influence he had at some point, even if he played dumb in the past few years and seemed to be stuck into his own faulty universe. Luckily, he shows signs of maturity in his behavior/lyrics now and this helps create a different atmosphere throughout the entire record.

Musically, The Pale Emperor focuses mostly on midtempo grooves that are more audibly influenced by blues this time (besides the usual glam and industrial). The heavier elements are at an all time low mostly because even Manson himself must've realized he cannot successfully pull them off anymore. He still soars on 'Deep Six', 'Slave Only Dreams To Be King' and 'The Devil Beneath My Feet' to a lesser extent, yet these punchier cuts have become exceptions rather than standards. Even so, the former follows the band's standard singles formula, but the delivery is the most potent in years. Twiggy has always had a knack for churning dirty, catchy riffs and the guitars shine here. On the latter, the cool bass line mixed with vintage sequencers and chunky leads create a slick track that leaves a lot of room for Manson's coarse croon. Also, 'The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles', with its whining guitar licks and swaying drum beats, lands somewhere in between the two aforementioned tracks. It picks up for the chorus, but for the most part delves into nostalgic territory, much like Eat Me Drink Me did (that album had some positive aspects so don't just shun this already). There's a certain regret in the lyrics as he recognizes the past is over and he is no longer the fatal, Antichrist superstar. He aimed at such results with his last two records, yet here it feels like he toned his ego down a bit, thus sounding more sincere.

To help with the songwriting, various soundtracks composer, Tyler Bates has been brought in as an active contributor and he manages to offer a cinematic side to the record. Since Twiggy switched back to bass for live performances, it is very probable he let Tyler take over main guitar duties, among other instruments. 'Warship My Wreck' and 'Cupid Carries A Gun' are fine examples of a more layered, atmospheric approach, where various sound scapes, keyboards and piano lines become the main foundation of the tracks. Without aggressive riffs to shove into your face like before, they manage to create haunting melodies by using more subtle elements. The two also took risks and went on the opposite direction, stripping the already less flashy production to its bare bones on 'Killing Strangers' and 'Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge'. Several passages feature solely drums and another instrument, leaving Manson to cover the void. He doesn't take advantage of this aspect though, choosing wisely his words, while also adopting a more mature attitude (less squealing/choking and more cojones). As a result, there are fewer verses or repeated choruses (these were abused on Born Villain), focusing instead on the vibes created by the instruments.

In the end, The Pale Emperor turns out to be Marilyn Manson's most enjoyable offering in a decade. Definitely a leap into the right direction, the album is the product of a clear mindset and less ego tripping. Also, finding the suitable contributor helped the creativity boost this time around. There was never room for democracy in this band, but keeping some key members over the years was quite essential for the overall results. With the new, revolving door policy, there have been numerous hits and misses in the past decade. However, Tyler Bates seems like a successful addition and a skillful partner for Twiggy. He always needed someone to write with (John 5, M.W. Gacy or Chris Vrenna to name a few) and once more, it seems he found a suitable one with whom to meld the best ideas. Unfortunately, he might not be around for future recording sessions, so who knows what we'll get next time.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2015


4681 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

He'll never make a heavy record again, at least not until John 5 comes back. Still this is surprisingly good and suitable for his age.



Stream it here - http://metalhammer.teamrock.com/news/2015-01-12/uk-exclusive-marilyn-manson-the-pale-emperor-album-stream

Digging: A Swarm of the Sun - The Woods

BassDemon333
January 17th 2015


3435 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Some of the bands best songs were written when John and Twiggy were working with Manson. I didn't enjoy this nearly as much as

Born Villain. Maybe its the toned down approach but I like it better when Manson does his industrial rock thing a lot more.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2015


4681 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Arcade. I like your reviews, so I hope you submit yours at some point.



@Bass - Most of the songs were written by Bates from what I read. Don't know how much input had Twiggy, but I like the results. I agree with you, his industrial side was always good. John 5 was and will be the best guitar player the band had. I wanted a heavier record, but he can't pull it anymore. This at least suits his age, I guess.

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
January 17th 2015


14983 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Awesome review insomniac. I disagree with a couple of points, but, man, this review was great.

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
January 17th 2015


14983 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh Mall.

ScuroFantasma
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2015


11649 Comments


Great review insomniac, brought up a lot of good points. I think I need to get this, what I've heard from this sounded really good.

TheBarber
January 17th 2015


3756 Comments


awesome review, album actually looks cool now

EvoHavok
January 17th 2015


7671 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great work, Raul! Never bothered with post-Grotesque Manson bar a few songs, but I really like this record.

ckssr1
January 17th 2015


182 Comments


I'm actually excited to hear this album.
Sweet review, I'll probably buy it when it comes out.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2015


17980 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Great review, mind pos. I think this might be the first contrib/staff review Manson ever got on sput lol



This is his best since Eat Me, Drink Me, especially with some of the guitarwork and increased emphasis of blues and

metal.

Digging: Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch - Blade Runner 2049

trackbytrackreviews
January 17th 2015


3369 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Best album art

DoctorDoom
January 17th 2015


2987 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

His best since EMDM, a record that I think is criminally underrated.

Tunaboy45
January 17th 2015


16698 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Been getting a positive response, can't wait to properly listen to it.

Digging: Yves Tumor - Safe in the Hands of Love

DoctorDoom
January 17th 2015


2987 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Same, looking forward to the vinyl.

LightChaotic
January 17th 2015


166 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is easily Manson's best work since Holy Wood. Golden Age is by far his worst record. It's so hallow and processed. The lack of good instrumentals and redundant lyrics make it a chore to get through for me. The High End of Low almost felt like a repeat of Golden Age when it first came out, but it does have a few stand out tracks and much better instrumentals overall. Contrary to popular opinion, I actually really enjoy Eat Me, Drink Me. It certainly takes time to grow on you but the entire vibe of the record is really interesting. You just have to get past the slightly cringe worthy lyrics found on the opening track. Just A Car Crash Away, Evidence, and the title track are all excellent. Born Villain was a decent effort. Much better than High End and Golden Age. It has some really heavy hitting tracks but it does lack excitement overall. Manson is not the singer he used to be and it shows greatly on that LP. Luckily, Manson found a much better direction for his weary vocals and introspective lyrics on The Pale Emperor. Makes me happy because Holy Wood and Mechanical Animals are some of my favorite albums of all time and I think Marilyn Manson is an incredibly interesting person. Anyway... Just venting some thoughts here.



TLDR - The Pale Emperor is a great album. Eat Me, Drink Me is under appreciated. High End of Low and Golden Age are low points for me. Manson is always interesting.



Highly recommended tracks off of The Pale Emperor:

- Slave Only Dreams To Be King

- The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles

- Deep Six

- The Devil Beneath My Feet

DoctorDoom
January 17th 2015


2987 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Warship my Wreck is my favorite track so far.

chambered99
January 17th 2015


889 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

holy shit this is awesome

PostMesmeric
January 17th 2015


739 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm with ya, DoctorDoom. It's so bleak. Love that track.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2015


18312 Comments

Album Rating: 3.1

this album is too good to be true

Digging: Pet Shop Boys - Behaviour

FearThyEvil
January 17th 2015


16735 Comments


Still a little apprehensive about this despite the positive reactions.



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