JEORDIE WHITE | BASE TENDENCIES
Metal Hammer has heard nine new Marilyn Manson tracks from the new album, "High End Of Low". Has he halted his slump? Come on in to find out.
The first of the 8 tracks, opens with a classic Manson-esque noise: track - super 8 running a loop or something. This is followed by a dulcet clean guitar strum up the neck, which sounds surprisingly gentle and serene - very un-Manson - more like the post-hardcore sounds if Isis or Russian Circles. When his voice joins the bass and guitars, it's back to the great old troubled tortured alien of Mechanical Animals - far superior and more earnest than the last album (what was it called again?). The refrain, "I will love you, if you let me" rings out before the heavy guitars and rocking drums hit the mix proper - but only after 3 minutes and only for 40 seconds. The track reaches its crescendo with the repeated phrase "I can't sleep, until I devour you" screamed over and over. This is the best Manson has been since New Shit from The Golden Age Of Grotesque.
Leave A Scar
The track bursts open with drums, bass and a swaggering guitar riff with an additional high guitar lick that all subsides before you can grab onto it, as the vocals kick in. The track's mid-tempo 4/4 beats are slow dancefloor fodder and the pleading chorus "whatever doesn't kill you, is gonna leave a scar" are anthemic Manson par excellence. The grating twanging insistent guitar riff comes back with the twinkling and distorted guitar loop that again yield to Manson's vocals. His tone here in the verse is less emotional, but the short middle eight has his signature split harmonies using falsetto and harmony to eerie and evocative effect.
Four Rusted Horses
Sounding like Seasick Steve, the track opens with an Americana-inspired acoustic guitar and foot-stomp. Manson's voice soon joins the ensemble - along with synth strings - reminiscent of "Coma White". The track keeps you anticipating a massive chorus as the chorus bridge teases you with what we all love - huge searing soaring Manson screams and ma-hoo-sive guitars. The track builds from the bottom up, with layers being added and added, only to be stripped down again. Fucking, tease. Manson has always been good at autobiographical catharsis by spinning an extended metaphor (dare we say "concept") It's less clear here what that might be, but the lyrics "Everyone will come to my funeral to make sure I'm dead" hint at a faux-persecution complex (though Manson's history of complex narrative, allegory and irony it'll be nearly impossible to tell until he tells us). Sadly the massive money-shot climax never happens and the track just fades into amp feedback and disappears. Sonically this is another step forward for Manson, but musically the song lacks the peaks we crave.
Heavy basslines, a stomping back-beat and a very traditionally Manson glam-chorus are the order of the day. It's this glam rock tinge that really shines through on the track, nodding to his penchant for decadent 70's rock but with an old school Manson industrial shade. Similar to the more Rock Is Dead side of Manson's work (albeit with a sound that is more sinister than was evident on Mechanical Animals), it doesn't echo the darkness of Manson's earlier work but it is of a higher quality than anything he has put out in a long, long while. It's great to hear Manson being genuinely defiant again, throwing caution to the wind with the couplet "fuck the goddamn TV and the radio/fuck making hits, I'm taking credit for the death toll". He may not be as dangerous as he once appeared but it is good to hear Mazza using one of those many middle fingers he was born with once again.
Blank And White
Manson has always had a fascination with 70s glam: the likes from Slade to T-Rex and David Bowie, and this tune has the foot-stomping tambourine-rattling swagger of any of the greats, and the guitar twangs it's riff like an Aerosmith oldie. The tempo is back a bit and the melodies and lyrics and rhythms all combine to awesome effect in the chorus. Again, while the subject matter isn't totally transparent it appears to be about "stupid teenage girls: and their appreciation of music/bands. It's interesting that Manson seems to have ditched much of the "metal" base of his sound, only adding in distorted solos and walls of guitars to obviate the stripped nature of the rest of the tracks. The final chorus here is an album peak, with a signature aggressive sleazy solo, mounds of ugly guitars and Manson screaming his lungs out - finally finishing with a haunting and exhausted whisper. He may be all old and happy now, but he still knows where the anger lives deep down.
Running To The Edge Of The World
With more acoustic guitar, this sounds initially like 90s Bon Jovi solo material. But then the clicky/bleepy electronic beats kick in and you know ugly juxtaposition is coming. Manson joins in with a sad - almost melancholic - vocal line about burning houses. Joined by strings, the slow plodder plods on and without a strong vocal melody the chords sound like "Love Is All Around" by Wet Wet Wet. Manson's clever wordplay was always one of his most endearing facets, and sadly he seems to have run slightly dry. The interesting little middle eight isn't enough to save this song from being quite dull - especially when the six and a half minutes of it seems to offer little to warrant such length.
Here is the Manson bombast back in the h-zooos. Massive chords replete with omonious semi-tones. This may not be groundbreaking stuff for the band, but it is what they do best. Spooky black-glam vocal delivery and taunting bullying choruses with falsetto layers that dance round you like a black mass meets the hokey-cokey. Lyrically, the themes fit, with accusations of "possession" and an aggressive recurring "you". Again there are melodic similarities to material from Holywood, but not so much as to be embarrassing. The pop-structures of previous tracks from the album are gone and what he learned from Trent Reznor is back - whether conscious or not: the track builds and builds without changing direction. Again the slower tempo brings the album average down, and you might find yourself wanting something a bit quicker to plug-in the aggression - the kind that has you pounding your steering wheel and you pass a born again Christian who's been blocking you since the service station on the motorway. Or something.
We're From America
The last track of eight, sees the tempo finally elevated to fist-pumping pace, and features a riff that sounds like a Manson-ed up Muse riff and another Manson signature, the low rumbling toms. The lyrical themes are overt and feature the good old Manson wit we all love: "We're from America, where Jesus was born; we're from America where we speak American" and "God is an excuse." There is also the overt criticism of the pro-life neo-cons and their anti-abortion policies - this is by far the most direct song on the album, and will doubtless become an anti-anthem in line with Fight Song or Beautiful People. Again, while the backing track offers little musical complexity, it hammers home the message and allows Manson's voice to carry the tune - building like some apocalyptic dance track - played by a metal band.
Additional leaked track:
Put simply, The WoW is a grinding, NIN-tinged sex anthem. Genuinely filthy and intensely sexy, The Wow sees Manson riding a dirty Twiggy Ramirez bassline in an almost spoken-word style. Quirky keyboards interject all the way through the track while sexual female groans (occasionally spoken in German) swarm behind the crunching industrial backing track. The WoW doesn't have anything in the way of memorable hooks but it is the sort of track that would sound amazing in a goth stripclub -if one existed.