I don’t think anybody expected this album. After the musically catchy but disappointingly shallow Golden Age Of Grotesque it seemed as though Marilyn Manson had given up on being artistic and had decided to concentrate on his image, as if he had chosen the superficial side of his music and given up on creating deep and dense albums that were better than the sum of their parts.
This shift in focus, coupled with the band falling apart and what were generally regarded as poor live shows all along the way made it seemed like he would settle into a one-dimensional comfort zone of knowingly iconic imagery, enjoyable but simple songs and lyrics full of puns and wordplay but little valid artistic content.
Eat Me, Drink Me was a surprising follow-up that defied this expectation while also refusing to return to the previous style either. The actual content is mostly emotional, slow and dark, and not really conceptual in any way. It is stripped down to the basics. It still isn’t an important piece of music and it doesn’t have anything informative to say, but it isn’t just a set of obvious singles either. It is the sound of raw and wounded emotion, mixed in with a renewed interest in making music that sounds dark. Manson’s voice is the focus and he tries a lot of different things that aren’t present on previous records while ditching a lot of things that were on previous albums too.
If you were feeling harsh you could say that it is a bit repetitive and whiney. Whenever I think of this as a Marilyn Manson album I always think of it negatively but whenever I am actually listening to it, I find that I do enjoy the experience despite myself. The biggest problem however is just that he has made much better albums before and while this is good on its own level, that level isn’t the same level on which his better material exists.
Stylistically, The two most noteworthy things about the album are firstly that the tracks are mostly slow, brooding dirges based primarily on vocals, jangly chords and piano, with little in the way of metal riffs or industrial touches and secondly there is some interesting lead guitar work worked in as well. There are still a few up-tempo tracks and allusions to his earlier work, but in much smaller quantity than ever before. It is one step closer to the dark pop record that he talked about writing in his book all those years ago.
Highlights include the slow and powerful ‘They Said That Hell’s Not Hot,’ and the brilliant and brooding Title Track as well as the catchy, if shallow rocker ‘Mutilation Is The Most Sincere Form Of Flattery.’
Overall; Eat Me, Drink Me isn’t for everyone and may be too morose and dull for a lot of fans. The lack of either intelligent political messages inside dense conceptual music or indeed catchy fun rock songs with amusing lyrics will make it uninteresting for the vast majority of his oddly polarized fanbase. I personally enjoy this odd, curve-ball album and have listened to it much more than I ever expected to, but would still concede that it isn’t anywhere near as good as Antichrist Superstar, Mechanical Animals or Holywood.