Robby Reviews Marilyn Manson’s The Pale Emperor

Coincidentally, the artist/band/person/whatever most responsible for me getting into music released a new album yesterday, January 20nd, a week before my album comes out. Other than the release dates being similar and having the same number of tracks (10), I don’t think you can make any comparisons between the two albums. Whatever the case, Marilyn Manson’s The Pale Emperor album is out now, and it is awesome.

Almost three years after the last Marilyn Manson release (2012’s Born Villain), The Pale Emperor goes where a number of fans wanted him to go: dirty, dirgy, bluesiness. But while it’s sort of a wish come true, it’s still surprising, entertaining, daring, enlightening, and interesting. As a hardcore fan since 1995, I’ve heard all the radio singles many a time. Those songs are great, but like with a fan of any band, the opinion is that the deep cuts tend to be the most exciting to listen to. Born Villain was a good album, but definitely in comparison to The Pale Emperor, it wasn’t very focused. I’m sure it was purely intentional, but some of the guitar and vocal tracks seemed to be first takes; they weren’t flawless. And there’s a certain charm to that, I suppose, but I don’t think that lended itself to the album. Going back even further in the catalog, 2007’s Eat Me, Drink Me, that album was even less polished, but with the lyrical content, it made sense for it to be that way. I can’t say many other good things about EMDM, but I can say that.

Anyway, The Pale Emperor is an evolution of Marilyn Manson. Again, comparing it to recent past albums…gone are the drum machines that permeated most of their albums, and real drums played by Gil Sharone take their place. I’m obviously not opposed to drum machines, but real drums would have made Born Villain a lot better overall, I think. The guitars were pretty raw and had some attitude, but the drums were pretty lifeless. You could also hear some awkward guitar track editing here and there. I don’t know.

The point is that the best parts of the last 3 albums show back up for The Pale Emperor, and the things that were lacking in those same albums appear. Producer Tyler Bates created mostly all of the music you hear on the album, minus the drums, which sound awesome. And real. Because they are. There is a consistent tone throughout the 10 songs, yet each song has its own identity. The closest thing to a radio single here is probably “Deep Six,” which has a strange music video. Check it out.

I’m one of those guys that totally gets into the symbolism and hidden meanings and everything, but this review isn’t the place for that. All I want to say is that this new Marilyn Manson album, The Pale Emperor, is awesome. I can’t say it’s the best MM album ever, but it’s certainly worth more of your attention than the last few are. By saying the production is top-notch, I don’t want to take away from the sheer effectiveness of the songs. The drums are very punchy and clear, as it should be. The guitars sound great. There are just great songs on here. In a world of music that seems to be almost completely shallow and not worth a second listen, this album shines through. You can listen to these songs time after time. They are structured in such a way that you don’t get bored with them. Like I mentioned before, there aren’t really any radio friendly songs. So maybe that hinders some widespread appeal, and scares some casual listeners away, but I can’t say I want another The Golden Age of Grotesque anyway, which was almost completely made up of singalong songs.

Another thing I really like about this album: the songs are pretty lengthy, and they still don’t overstay their welcome. They’re not the same tired verse/verse/chorus/verse/chorus/chorus deal. You are taken places when you listen to these songs, seriously. So when the last song ends, I welcome going back to the beginning to start it all again.

Buy this thing. Now.

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