After a long stretch of uninspired, downbeat offerings, Marilyn Manson had a semi-comeback with 2012’s Born Villain.
Was that a late career fluke winner?
The followup, The Pale Emperor will be a good indication if he is truly back on track.
What really helps to shake this album up and what keeps it fresh is that Manson has collaborated with film/television/video game composer Tyler Bates for the music. A lot of the ensuing product has a rustic, bluesy vibe yet there are some nods to the heavy, nu-metal past (“Deep Six”). “The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles” seems to combine elements of the band’s early music with the direction they have taken over the last decade better than one could possibly hope.
New drummer Gil Sharone (Stolen Babies, Dillinger Escape Plan) provides surprisingly spare beats yet this also helps to keep the songs less cluttered and more propulsive. It creates a swagger than fans of the band’s 90s work could be surprised by.
On the downside, the album is definitely front-loaded with the more varied/memorable tracks comprising the first two-thirds of the collection. The last three songs are mostly boring numbers though “Cupid Carries a Gun” does have some moments.
Overall, The Pale Emperor seems to be proof that Manson is again focused on putting together worthwhile albums that aren’t mired in depression and a lethargic pace.
The years have changed him from what he once was, but you can also look at it as growth, spooky, spooky growth.
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When J.J. Ellis isn’t writing as the Allentown DVD Examiner, his Decent Exposure Radio can be heard on the air every Friday night from 10:30 to midnight (EST) on WXLV 90.3 FM or wxlvradio.com!