MARILYN MANSON — We Are Chaos (review)

MARILYN MANSON — We Are Chaos album cover Album · 2020 · Metal Related Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
MARILYN MANSON is of course a 90s rock icon with his slew of albums starting with the shocking portrayal of American values on “Portrait Of An American Family,” the irreverence and industrial metal heft of “Antichrist Superstar” and his most controversial album “Mechanical Animals” which got him accused of ripping off David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust persona however soon after those releases and an excellent hit single in the form of the Eurythmics cover “Sweet Dreams,” Brian Hugh Warner who as MARILYN MANSON led the band of the same name seemed to run out of steam after blowing his wad on his 90s output. After the “Mechanical Animals” fiasco MANSON returned to his guitar based creepy persona for “Holy Wood” but something just sounded off on that one and insincere. I never pursued MANSON’s releases from then on and basically just ignored them as one review and critique after another simply tore them apart for being insidiously boring musical dross.

Being irrelevant for two decades seems to break many artists and send them away packing but nobody can accuse MANSON of not being persistent. While i have none of the albums since “Holy Wood” to compare this to, for some reason i felt compelled to explore a new release from MANSON and lo and behold a new album just emerged on September 11, 2020, MANSON’s 12th titled WE ARE CHAOS. Obviously things have changed since the lineup featured Twiggy Ramirez, Madonna Wayne Gary, Ginger Fish and Robin Finck who all played their parts well in the most dysfunctional band of the 90s. Many musicians have come and gone but sometime in the not so distant past MANSON hooked up with Shooter Jennings, song of the infamous outlaw country star Waylon Jennings who has taken up the task of producing WE ARE CHAOS.

Album #12 returns to the days to the concept album days of the 90s and even takes on the retro feel of an LP of yore with two distinct sides and a playing time of only 42 minutes and 27 seconds. Having cited Elton John and Bernie Taupin as a main influence, it’s no surprise that the piano plays a prominent role in crafting discernible and instinctively hooky melodies that provide the underpinning of much of the album’s run. Despite the hero worship of 70s pop, i would say that the overall melodic flow is the closest thing to 1996’s “Antichrist Superstar” that i’ve heard at least with many of those familiar returns to MANSON’s soft whispered parts alternating with angsty punk shouts and heavy metal guitar heft in tandem with crafty industrial electronica. While the album misses the mark of providing as impactful experience as his lauded multi-platinum best seller, WE ARE CHAOS is quite the surprise that it is an extremely listenable album that although dusting off old ideas for contemporary use, manages to remain engaging throughout its ten track playing time.

While the metal aspects pale in comparison to the earliest days, the return of the Goth and glam is in full regalia on WE ARE CHAOS. The familiar melodic hooks that remind me of all those classic tracks like “The Beautiful People,” “Angel With The Scabbed Wings” and tracks such as “The Reflecting God” seem more like rejects from “Antichrist Superstar” as they lack the immediacy despite the strong hooks and similar feel however this is a much more mature version of MANSON and 24 years on sounds much better than anyone could’ve ever hoped especially after a slew of extremely uninteresting specimens of musicality. While this album does tend to cast MANSON as someone who is looking back for ideas rather than innovation, in his case where the innovation of the past 20 years has resulted in dismal ennui, i can’t say that it wasn’t a great idea to focus on what made you stand out in the first place rather than something you have no business tackling.

While MARILYN MANSON has never been a favorite band, i do love the first three albums enough to cherish them as some top picks of the 90s but MANSON as a personality just rubs me the wrong way. With the accusations of Satanic pedophilia from celebrities like Isaac Kappy MANSON has been vilified once again and perhaps has brought some renewed interest in his career but judging from WE ARE CHAOS, it is doubtful that MANSON will ever match the heyday of his 90s output despite crafting a pleasant retro album that is perhaps a bit too tame for his wild image as the album’s metal heft is more on the side of “Mechanical Animals” rather than the first two albums. Still though, i’m not disappointed that i at long last have checked out a new MANSON album. The dude still has the vocal chops to pull off his wicked unique style of industrial goth rock but despite strong melodies and songwriting prowess, the album still seems a bit too tame and could use some faster more upbeat tracks to offer some needed contrast. The title track is almost pure Goth pop rock as are several other tracks. This one is decent but far from the needed comeback in the modern era. Once again i think i will ignore Mr MANSON next time around.
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Tupan wrote:
37 days ago
Never cared much about Manson, even when I was younger. Their songs that caught most my attention were the cover versions...
siLLy puPPy wrote:
38 days ago
I actually enjoyed this. Gimme Bathory any day over Manson but this is decent Goth alt rock, just not good enough to seek out and listen to again.
Vim Fuego wrote:
38 days ago
I lasted 1 minute and 9 seconds before I got bored with this and put on some Bathory instead. :D

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