Marilyn Manson
We Are Chaos


4.7
superb

Review

by Simon K. STAFF
September 11th, 2020 | 152 replies


Release Date: 09/11/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Are you alright? 'Cause I'm not okay.

With all due respect, Heaven Upside Down was a mistake. After Marilyn Manson’s comeback with Tyler Bates in 2015 – a return that reinvigorated Brian’s career and awarded him both critical and fan acclaim – it was somewhat disappointing to discover that he had backtracked on his bluesy momentum for a myopic return into a well lived in comfort zone. In a lot of ways, Heaven Upside Down undermined what The Pale Emperor had so rigorously affirmed, taking only a meagre portion of The Pale Emperor’s DNA onboard so he could focus his gambit on nostalgia. Listening to Heaven Upside Down these days, there’s the sense that the Manson we hear on that record is a doppelganger: on the surface it looks and sounds like The God of F-ck, but there’s something intrinsically off about him. Lyrics in particular had regressed to levels not seen since The High End of Low, and the music composed sounded more like a wannabe band trying to capture the hard-edged sound of Manson’s ‘90s efforts than a guy repurposing his old skillset with meaningful objectives in mind. It’s not a bad album by any means, but to this day it still baffles me why he opted out of the classy and mature image he’d fronted for himself just one album prior. Which, to some extent, puts We Are Chaos in a more auspicious position.

Imagine my surprise when Manson dropped “We Are Chaos” back in July – an overt homage to two of his most venerable influences: The Beatles, and David Bowie. It’s no secret that these two household names have always been a part of Marilyn Manson in some capacity since Mechanical Animals, but “We Are Chaos” drops the veil entirely and lays it all bare in a way we’ve never heard before. The track in question perfectly displays the kind of duality The Beatles’ sound is so well known for: it’s an out of character set-piece teeming with optimism, juxtaposed with Manson’s analytical motif about humanity’s imminent doom. Conjoining this macabre tale with a scintillating folky hopefulness has ultimately brought a very different kind of sound to the table, and a very intriguing project to ponder over when you imagine what the full album could be. Furthermore, the anticipation for We Are Chaos was made all the more compelling when it was revealed Manson had disbanded his partnership with Bates to go and work with country rocker Shooter Jennings; a prospect that doubled down on the country aesthetics Marilyn Manson has been toying with in recent years.

So, the pieces are all in place, the stage is set, and long-time fans are sheepishly sat in their chairs waiting to see if Manson pulls a fast one on them. For those fretting about hearing a complete remodelling in sound, they need not worry; We Are Chaos uses a pretty masterful balance of old and new sounds, similar to the way he integrated The Pale Emperor’s bluesy framework with his own ghoulish traits. Imagine if The Addams Family were big country rock enthusiasts and decided to form a band in the far reaches of space and you’ll have some idea of what to expect here. A thought which swirled around in my head when I was listening to the album was Manson got really high in pre-production, binge-watched Twin Peaks and decided to make a pseudo-soundtrack of his own for it. The album, like “We Are Chaos”, is filled with dualism and in particular, the classic Lynchian juxtaposition of cheesy hopefulness and its underbelly of imminent danger; most tracks here comport the classic American nuclear family pose, pearly whites and wide-eyed smiles an all, but underneath the facade lurks its rotten and sinister opposite. “Paint You With My Love”’s garish introduction of sashaying acoustic strums and romantic croons perfectly displays the concept at hand; a superficial love-ballad that captures the zeitgeist of 50’s dance floors everywhere but who’s lyrics – which documents a similar motif to what Holywood touched upon twenty years ago – completely stain the serene, clinical presentation emitted, by going into humanity’s obsessive reliance on monarchs and for some on the receiving end, the desire to become a martyr.

Prior to We Are Chaos’ release Manson stated he viewed the album as a "masterpiece". That is a bold statement indeed, but it’s hard to argue with his sentiment. It’s obviously too early to tell if it will stand up next to his superlative vintages, but as its own entity it’s a bold, vastly expansive album with a bucket load of replayability. We Are Chaos doesn’t benefit from just a couple of spins, it’s not as forthcoming or immediate with giving out rewards. Stick with the album for long enough though and you’ll unearth an adroit chapter in Warner’s thirty-plus year career. The level of variety here is supreme – taking you through jaunty, post-punk epics like “Don’t Chase the Dead”, complete with all the big, extravagant synth keys and ominous bass tones, to the cosmic, Depeche Mode-esque voyage of “Half-way & One Step Forward”. These more overt deviations in sound are perfectly executed to the point of sounding like long-standing elements in the Marilyn Manson canon. Of course, the likes of the industrial juggernaut “Infinite Darkness” is surely there to please older fans with its The Golden Age of Grotesque styled electronics and fuzzy guitars. The important thing to remember though is that the likes of “Infinite Darkness” and glam-rocker “Keep My Head Together” don’t feel as though they’re tacked on afterthoughts. Every track here works perfectly together.

At this point I honestly give up on trying to work out Marilyn Manson. He’s had a lot of ups and downs over the years, and after looking back at Heaven Upside Down I will admit I questioned his abilities and even ruled his decision to leave Tyler Bates as a bad move, but We Are Chaos shatters the notion he got lucky with The Pale Emperor. This is a staggering statement that manages to overthrow the greatness of even The Pale Emperor. You know Manson still has a lot of weight behind his punch when he comes out with the best album closer of his career – “Broken Needle”, a bombastic ballad that explodes with uncompromising poignancy before echoing out with a finality that will stick with you long after hearing it. You can see that Manson got a bit of cold feet post-The Pale Emperor, and his doubts jarred his momentum quite a bit. Going forward with this kind of lateral thinking is where he excels the most, and I hope, if there’s ever going to be an album after this, he continues with that mindset.

FORMAT//EDITIONS:
DIGITAL//VINYL(VARIOUS)//CD//CASSETTE//BUNDLES

UNBOXING VIDEO:
TBA

SPECIAL EDITION BONUSES:
NONE

ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE:
https://uklomavistarecordings.ochre.store/release/199403-marilyn-manson-we-are-chaos



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user ratings (186)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
LightChaotic
September 11th 2020


255 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review. This album is fantastic. It's honestly right behind Mechanical Animals and Holy Wood for me. It has only gotten better and better with each listen. It's such an improvement over Heaven Upside Down and I think that it's even better than The Pale Emperor. As far as I'm concerned, the more Bowie influence we get out of Manson, the better. Don't Chase The Dead and Keep My Head Together have some of the best melodies from Manson since Mechanical Animals. Paint Me With Your Love, Solve Coagula, and Broken Needle are, likewise, his best ballads since Mechanical Animals. And the breakdowns in those songs are straight from that era. Half-Way & One Step Forward is probably the biggest grower for me. It's relaxing, melancholic, and unique.



"At this point I honestly give up on trying to work out Marilyn Manson."



Pretty much, yeah. His work after Holy Wood has been all over the place but I'm pleasantly surprised that he was able to produce something this great after all this time.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2020


16587 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

Your sentiment definitely mirrors mine. Best album since holywood for sure

Digging: Marilyn Manson - We Are Chaos

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
September 11th 2020


11760 Comments


Good stuff, Gonzo, very nice review. Impressive that an artist can reinvent themselves this late in their career not once, but twice. Know little about Manson outside of one album--recommended by a "friend"--but I never would have suspected him marching down country roads. Sounds like a trip!

Digging: Svalbard - When I Die, Will I Get Better?

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2020


5215 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You really dig the album. It's great, but I feel I still need to spin it a few times to truly get into it. I love his painting on the picture disc he announced yesterday.

Digging: Gazpacho - Fireworker

Pikazilla
September 11th 2020


12280 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not sure if this is better than Pale Emperor but definitely very good

Colton
September 11th 2020


3326 Comments


Youtube randomly recommended me a Marilyn Manson interview compilation and he seems like a really interesting guy. His music is so different from the way he speaks

Digging: Talking Heads - Speaking in Tongues

cold
September 11th 2020


5700 Comments


I need a few more listens to really gauge how I feel about it. But off of my first listen, I’m rather impressed. I just wish his lyricism hadn’t dwindled in quality so much, but that’s just my two cents.

Digging: Deftones - Ohms

Feather
September 11th 2020


6088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I am really enjoying the sound of this. Loved the Pale Emperor, but didnt even bother with upside down. I do agree with the lyricism drop in quality @Coldheaven. But I think the different sound direction is interesting enough to really make up for it.

Brabiz
September 11th 2020


1148 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The sense of melody on this LP is awesome. This is way better than i expected, definitely in Manson’s top 4

Digging: Deftones - Ohms

JWT155
September 11th 2020


14664 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Genuinelly impressed by this so far. Very expansive sound and a lot of risks taken regarding overall sound and texture, but it has the right balance between experimentation and pop, homages to artists like Bowie and the like with the ability to change like a chamleon while not abandoning his identity, and the overall scope is ambitious. Tracks sound bombastic and grandiosse without coming across as overly theatrical. Well done.

StonedManatee
September 11th 2020


257 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is his best album post-Holywood. It is easily his 4th best album. Think of post-punk aesthetics getting draped in southern gothic country sounds mixed in some glam, synth, industrial, and psychedelia for good measure.

ConcubinaryCode
September 11th 2020


5457 Comments


Pretty high praise, I'll have to check this out. I never could figure out if Manson was truly talented or he just had a great group of people to help enhance his ideas in his early years.

Pho3nix
September 11th 2020


921 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"Imagine if The Addams Family were big country rock enthusiasts and decided to form a band in the far reaches of space and you’ll have some idea of what to expect here."



I'll give it a listen then.

SowingSeason
Moderator
September 11th 2020


35892 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That's my favorite line in this whole review.

Digging: Deftones - Ohms

Feather
September 11th 2020


6088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Why does Half Way and One Step Closer sound like Cry Me a River by Justin Timberlake ... in a good way?

SowingSeason
Moderator
September 11th 2020


35892 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah this rocks. I had only heard 4 albums of his prior to this (Antichrist Superstar, Mechanical Animals, The Pale Emperor, and Heaven Upside Down), but this is tied for my favorite with Antichrist Superstar. It all just comes together in a very satisfying way. Like if Bowie got into metal or something. I also found the line between chaos and melody to be toed perfectly here. Really impressive this late into his career.

Disclaimer: Everyone saying the lyrics are a step down are correct though, unfortunately.

rc239
September 11th 2020


305 Comments


it feels strange as a 29 year old to be genuinely enjoying a marilyn manson album in 2020, but this really is pretty good

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2020


16587 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

That’s a nice score sow, real nice

SowingSeason
Moderator
September 11th 2020


35892 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The intensity of Infinite Darkness into the infectiousness of Perfume is so damn satisfying. That was what convinced me to give it a 4.5 and not the 4 I thought I was set on.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2020


16587 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

Also don’t get the criticism with his lyrics here; obviously nowhere near the standards of the trilogy, but they’re way better than anything off HUD and in some ways TPE



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