By Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson's 'Born Villain', released in early May, demonstrates that he and his musicians are still absolutely on form. Whilst it is more melodic than 'The High End of Low', released in 2009, their style is in no way mellowing, even as Marilyn Manson approaches his mid-40s. He has retained the ability to growl, screech and moan in a myriad of ways, and on this album, there are layers of white noise to create drama, building upon the themes of villainry, mythology, and Biblical sin. Despite all this dark imagery, the entire album stirs you to dance and move.
It's an album that inspires you to look up phrases from the lyrics you hear, such as 'Pistol Whipped' - whilst it begins with what sounds like someone winding a torture machine, the use of of the phrase 'Pistol Whipped' goes back to the days of the Wild West- although it's violent, the way Manson uses the phrase is to do with lust, and sexually being under someone's spell.
Another highlight is 'Overneath the Path of Misery'- it opens with a soliloquy from 'Macbeth', (Act 5, scene V), with the memorable line, 'life's but a walking shadow...' The song closes with 'grazie a Antipope per questo testo...' something else I found myself interested to look up. The song also references Oedipus and Persephone, weaving in layers of historic villainry and mythical acts of evil. Another standout song is 'Children of Cain', as it stirs up dark Biblical imagery of the son of Adam and fratricide. A large part of the intrigue of this album is discovering and researching the ideas Manson refers to in his lyrics, so I won't delve into the detail. A personal highlight is the cover of Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain', featuring long-time friend of Manson's, Johnny Depp - it's raw, powerful, and twisted, and still it echoes the original. There was so much speculation about who Simon was singing about in the original, but with Manson's version, I can't say it matters - it's a striking cover.
A must-see is the short film produced as a trailer last year for the album, directed by Shia LaBeouf, entitled 'Born Villain'. It's no less controversial or disturbing than any Manson work that has come before now, and is inspired by images from the surrealist film 'Un Chien Andalou', by Spanish director Luis Bunuel and artist Salvador Dali.
This is a dark and exciting album with literary and historical references scattered throughout, and it's refreshing in the sense that it's not riddled with teenage angst, but is still incredibly heavy, depraved, and disturbing.