“Marilyn Manson – WE ARE CHAOS”

I figured a new Manson album was coming soon. He has released a few tracks in the past year for various projects, like “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” late last year. Great track. I hoped there would be something coming… but didn’t know any specifics.

His new album was released today (9/11/2020). Those in the know probably knew it was coming, but I was caught by surprise, happening upon it by accident on Spotify and exclaiming to my work from home office… “New Manson!”

“Marilyn Manson – WE ARE CHAOS”

Manson is one of the few artists I buy sound unheard. I downloaded it immediately from Amazon so I could listen to it on my phone. Turns out I wouldn’t have the chance to listen to it until the dark hours of the morning when I woke from a horrible dream that I had no desire to go back to sleep and have again.

I put on my headphones and started listening to “WE ARE CHAOS”.

The first track “Red, Black and Blue” started out typically. There was a spoken intro with Manson’s slithery voice and then a build up and some jangly guitar and that characteristic Manson screamed lyrics.

Then came the title track “We Are Chaos”. This song has the feel of an anthem that Manson would play at the end of a concert with lighters raised and all of us freaks singing along. I was a little surprised, but couldn’t help liking it even though it seemed a little out of his lane.

“Don’t Chase The Dead” had a bit of a throwback sound to Pale Emperor or even Mechanical Animals, but again the chorus had a smoother sound, dare I say, radio friendly.

“Paint You With My Love” sounded about as close to a love song as I have ever heard coming from the self-proclaimed God of F@#&. Weird and strange and very non-jarring. I wanted to hate it, but couldn’t. Damn it, I liked it. It wasn’t until the next day when I looked up the lyrics that I realized how dark it actually was.

It was at this point listening that I knew that this whole album was a different sort of path for Manson. He was less of the abrasive and smoothed around the edges. There have been hints of this on several albums, where he had tracks that bordered on the beautiful among the anger and in your face rock and roll.

I quote here from the Wiki about the album: “Manson initially suggested the album could be self-titled, and said: “I’m in a mode in life where I wanted to tell stories with this record, and it’s sort of like a wax museum of my thoughts, a study of the chamber of horrors in my head. All the romance and hope you can have in the world, here in the End Times where it can be a different kind of apocalypse for each person listening to the record. I tried to paint it with words, and Shooter with sounds, so you can see and hear all of your longing, your passion and despair. That’s sort of a dramatic explanation of it. But it is full of drama. I wouldn’t compare it to any of my other records, but you hear a bit of everything—it’s like I’ve focused everything into one spot, finally.” He also elaborated on the album’s sound, saying: “I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how it sounds! A lot of people like to refer to [Shooter’s] style of music as ‘country’, but I regard it more as ‘southern’. I suppose that also drags in a bit of the [Rolling] Stones, in a way… There’s a lot of piano, though not necessarily Elton John piano. Maybe more ‘Bennie and the Jets’ piano. Let’s just call it Shooter Jennings piano!”.

This explains a lot, and helps to expound on what I am hearing. You can’t expect Manson to rage and shock endlessly. The guy is on a tangent in my opinion just like Alice Cooper. In the early years he was all theater and shock and did it better than anyone, but eventually you have to fall back on just being that damn good. You don’t have to force your way to the edge of the envelope forever to justify yourself. At some point you have to smooth out a bit, but the trick is to do it without sounding muted and subdued and phony. I think Manson accomplishes that here.

The track “Half-Way & One Step Forward” is another very Shooter style song. Again, despite not what I was expecting, I liked it. I think they combined their “voices” perfectly.

Then, you get a string of very Mansonesque tracks. “Infinite Darkness” and “Perfume” and “Keep My Head Together”. These tracks have a bit of an earlier Manson sound, while still keeping that softer edge that he incorporated throughout.

“Solve Coagula” is one of my favorite tracks. I think the collaboration is at it’s finest on this track. You can hear the influence of Shooter but with the distinctive voice Manson has developed.

The last track “Broken Needle” reminded me so much of some of the softer tracks on Mechanical Animals. Love it. I was wide awake and digging this at almost 2 in the morning and was suddenly surprised that all 10 tracks were now behind me and that it was over.

In the silence that followed I asked myself, still somewhat surprised as I was about the “new”sound I was hearing from Manson… did I like it? Was it just the moment and wanting to like it?  As is my way, I gave it another listen in the light of day.

I do like it. I like it a lot actually.

I am reminded of Bowie in a way. There are definite periods of the material he produced. You don’t want to listen to the Berlin trilogy every day, or Blackstar, or Hunky Dory, but eventually your mood will match one of them and it will be the perfect fit.

In that sense, I’m not always “born without with enough middle fingers” or mechanical or on the “third day of a seven day binge”, or in “infinite darkness”, but when I am, I have the perfect soundtrack.

Thanks Manson. Bravo.

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