JEORDIE WHITE | BASE TENDENCIES
Rumors of Marilyn Manson's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Seemingly on a steady downward trajectory since 1996’s Antichrist Superstar album – particularly after the 2002 departure of bassist/co-songwriter Twiggy Ramirez – 2004’s greatest hits set, Lest We Forget, was billed by Manson himself as their farewell, accompanied by an expressed intention to concentrate on his art. Eat Me, Drink Me arrived without much fanfare in 2007, the once-notorious God of Fuck suddenly more famous for being the ex-Mr. Dita Von Teese. But, after numerous ineffective lineups, a new hope emerged in the shape of an old bass player with the return of Twiggy late last year. The fruits of their collaboration turned into The High End of Low, perhaps Manson’s best, most mature and rewarding album in more than a decade.
The success of this album lies in its diversity and the band’s flair for experimenting with different styles and textures. Opening track "Devour" is a delicately picked guitar piece that builds into a seething crescendo with agonized vocals. "Four Rusted Horses" pulls in a country direction as if Johnny Cash is channeling his energy from beyond the grave. "Arma-Goddamn-Motherfucking-Geddon" is worryingly reminiscent of Diana Ross’s "Chain Reaction" before veering more comfortably toward Depeche Mode territory. "Running To The Edge Of The World" is pure lighters-aloft balladry, like Skid Row’s "I Remember You" or Motley Crue’s "Home Sweet Home". "I Want To Kill You Like They Do In The Movies" builds on a bassline and dreamy repetitive riff that gradually drifts into a nightmare you can't wake up from. "Wow" would surely stay at the top of the charts for weeks were it recorded by Kylie and "Into The Fire" is a painful piano lament.
But if you think Marilyn Manson has mellowed with age, you'd be wrong. He's matured, but that's only served to make the anger more measured and direct rather than anger for the sake of pushing people's buttons. For every pop reference there's a "Pretty As A ($)", which harkens back to "Long Hard Road Out of Hell". Or "We’re From America", which could easily be Manson's response to Rammstein's "Amerika". The High End of Low is Marilyn Manson playing to their strengths; it's pop in its darkest, most twisted and depraved form, wrapped up in a melancholy and desperation that's inherently painful to listen to. It's as though they've embraced the fact "Tainted Love" and "Personal Jesus" have been their most successful songs to date and run with it. This is the perfect anti-pop album, the one Marilyn Manson have been threatening to make since they became more of a concept than a band. The returning Twiggy Ramirez has brought with him a new clarity and focus for the subversive God of Fuck, the Marilyn Manson that first got Middle America's tit in a wringer more than a decade ago. They pushed the envelope of a genre 13 years ago, and in 2009 they're ready to take on the haters again.