Written by Nick Hopton
“We are each our own Devil…and we make this world our Hell.”
Effective evolution is arguably the hardest thing to accomplish as a musician. Changing your sound to properly fit the times, fit your ever-progressing mindset, but hell most importantly to keep things fresh and new, is the most challenging aspect in writing new music to an artist that has decades under their belt. But Marilyn Manson has been able to achieve just that. Past all the self-destructive antics, the tabloids, and the breakdowns, Manson has created the perfect concoction to not only stay relevant but to stay on top. His past two albums The Pale Emperor and Heaven Upside Down eluded to this newfound musical atmosphere that he’s discovered. Together with producer Shooter Jennings, the pair have taken that formula and paved yet another dark, theatrical path in the long and winding journey of Marilyn Manson.
“Red Black And Blue” sets the tone for the entire album. Dark. Vicious. Familiar. The Manson of days past. The Antichrist Superstar. A stomping of drums like a call to arms for all to hear and feel. It’s America in the year 2020. Beat up. Beat down. Lost.
We lead directly into the title track and the first single, “We Are Chaos.” This, hands down is one of the greatest songs that Manson has ever created. An ethereal, bombastic ballad calling out every single one of us that is, for a lack of a better term…fucked. “We are sick / Fucked up and complicated / We are chaos / We can’t be cured.” Manson and Jennings hit the gold mine on this one. A song that should stick around as one of the tops of his discography long after he is gone.
“Don’t Chase The Dead” once again echoes the Manson of the past, but with the Western twang that only Jennings could convince him to integrate into his sound. A drunken, dive bar dance number. Grab a bottle of bourbon and twist the night away with the ghosts of your past. But be wary when you dance with the dead…”Don’t chase the dead or they’ll end up chasing you”.
“Paint You With My Love” might just be the best track on the album. Yes. “We Are Chaos” is now one of Manson’s best songs, but this song encompasses the entire album. Another big, western-style ballad. Old beat-up piano keys with an old beat-up heart. But then, there’s a change in the air. Manson explodes with a fury that hasn’t been felt or heard from him in decades. A magnificent ending to a magnificent creation.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the next track. “Half-Way & One Step Forward” is a filler track. It just never hits as hard as the other songs on the album. Every album has one weak spot. This is it. But the next four tracks, “Infinite Darkness,“ “Perfume,“ “Keep My Head Together” and “Solve Coagula” are quintessential, old school, doom, and gloom Manson. That deep, gritty voice is unmistakable. Drop the bullshit. We’re going dark and heavy. Mechanical Animals style. Oh yeah. The real good stuff. Shades of “The Dope Show” and “I Don’t Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me)” take you on a winding train ride to the deepest depths of your mind to find out who the hell you actually are.
Wrapping up our newest journey into the mind of Marilyn Manson is “Broken Needle.” An apology to the ones that we hurt along our way. A human side that we rarely hear in such a vulnerable way. Admittedly it’s an incredibly beautiful song, yet it’s so very sad at the same time. But that’s what makes a perfect ballad. A song on both ends of the spectrum. Shooter’s imprint is all over this one, possibly more than any other song on the album. A fitting end to an album such as this. An album that is a culmination of a career. The culmination of a legend.