It’s been a hot minute since I have done any form of review for this site, so I feel compelled to make this first paragraph into some form of small talk best reserved for that friend you kind of like, but ultimately, couldn’t give two fucks about. So first off, how are you? Are the family OK? The kids? Has your dog stopped trying to constantly have sex with everything in site yet?
Right now the pleasantries are out of the way, let’s talk music.
2020 hasn’t been kind to anyone, except for perhaps end of the world enthusiasts and introverts. Whoever thought the near outbreak of World War 3 would be considered the high point? It has been, dare I say in an ill-advised segway – chaotic! And lo, Marilyn Manson crawled out of his absinthe soaked heck sex hole, told us to hold his narcotics for the sake of art and gave us ‘We Are Chaos’.
Despite living in an age where narcissism is on-demand and streaming on our social media accounts, Manson still holds an aura of mystery to him, a feat most artists struggle to achieve. The self-proclaimed “God Of Fuck” had spent the better part of the 2010’s rebuilding his image and style from the Antichrist Superstar, that self-imploded in a cocaine-fuelled midlife crisis during the 2000’s.To his credit, this helped bring in a renaissance of demonic country and blues that helped regain the respect of his peers and fans alike.
While most artists of his age settle into a familiar sound that panders to their audiences, Manson deliberately questioned his fan base, some soured on the thought and became bemoaning troglodytes howling for the days of where he would scare middle-class white Christian America; others dived into the rabbit hole with him and found modern gems in an otherwise stellar body of work, proving that Manson was indeed an artist ahead of the curve.
If you are an old school fan like me, you could make the argument that ‘We Are Chaos’ picks up where 1998’s criminally slept on ‘Mechanical Animals’ left off. The album starts with the tribal ramblings of ‘Red, Black & Blue’ that shows a Manson who is fresh out of fucks and is “sick sick sick” of all of us. It very much is a chaotic listen that sets the tone of this album nicely. You can mentally picture fans going stir crazy to this track at one of his concerts – should we be allowed to step foot in a concert venue ever again.
The title track and first single to the album jump into the fold next and this is really where his Bowie influences come into the forefront. A melancholic, yet anthemic romp where Manson holds a mirror up to the neurosis of the modern human, a pile of blood, bones, anxiety and borderline complications. It’s a song where the instrument work is ear candy to listen to, but the lyrics are as sickeningly blunt as a bukake orgy involving the family pets, but as the overly horny couple in lockdown said to justify their actions to the RSPCA – there wasn’t much choice but to go with it (Crikey Nick, don’t fuck about with getting to the point eh? – Slightly Shocked Editor).
This is where the album is at its strongest. Each track flows into one another, Manson hasn’t just made 10 singles, he’s made a full experience that you grow to appreciate more as the album goes on. ‘Don’t Chase The Dead’ is simple by design, yet has many layers one can sit and study for hours, while Manson croons the scarily realistic prospect that there could be no tomorrow, whereas ‘Paint You With My Love’ serves as a profound statement. What that statement is I cannot even begin to tell you, but Christ I want to study it obsessively and find a meaning to the lyrics “It’s not a life sentence, but a death dream for you”.
‘Infinite Darkness’, ‘Perfume’ and ‘Keep My Head Together’ will send listeners back to the Manson of old if you really can’t shut the fuck about how great his older sound was. Industrial dirty bass, lyrically visceral and sonically unforgiving, they serve as the more Rock ‘n’ Roll inspired tracks and are great fun to listen to, while on your moody morning commute in your scary-looking face-mask.
While 2020 has been full of surprises I can at least confidently predict that ‘Perfume’ will the next striptease anthem that most gothic women in their 20’s to, let’s say, their mid-40’s will use on their partners, or maybe gothic men will use it, no kink-shaming here. While I am here though, let me please remind you all to clear it with your preferred sexual partner before you start strip teasing, as this is 2020 and we can all be a little more sensitive to such things as cock shots and titty piccys. Hell, maybe if you ask sweetly enough, they may let their cat join in also (Nick, I seriously think we need to get you some help – Very Concerned Editor)
‘We Are Chaos’ gradually calms down towards the end of the album, but still has some standout moments. ‘Solve Coagula’ is a sincere look at Manson himself and has all the potential to be an anthem for the jaded Millennial or even Zoomer culture. Manson uses that trademark drawl vocal style to admit “I am not special, I am just broken, and I don’t want to be fixed” and for some reason, this line resonated with me.
Perhaps if you took this lyric at face value, it could be construed as a negative, but perhaps this is the mindset of an artist. Artists are inherently broken people and yes, speaking as an autistic bipolar vegetarian demi-sexual with borderline personality traits, who just so happens to have a career in the arts, I DO speak from personal experience.
It’s that broken mentality that inspires an artist to perform or create, to question their surroundings and more importantly to listen to the world around them, not being afraid to call it out on its bullshit. This is what ‘We Are Chaos’ is – a response to the madness around us, it doesn’t provide many answers, but it’s cathartic to know that those around us are equally as confused, even upset at said madness.
‘Broken Needle’ helps solidify that message that it is ok to be broken, Manson’s latest effort provided me with something that 2020 couldn’t – a wealth of bestiality jokes that will no doubt give the editor an aneurysm but more importantly a sense of closure. ‘We Are Chaos’ continues the upward swing Manson has been on since 2015s ‘The Pale Emperor’. The album provides a template of the utter despair we are all facing and if you were interested in Manson’s previous work, you owe it to yourself to listen to a more refined and mature Marilyn Manson. Still an enigma in his own right, but just open enough to show us the wounds and asks us not to look away.