This newest record is the near perfect balance between the earlier works of his career and the catchier elements of his post-divorce stage. The references to religion are back in full force and have nearly the same amount of power as the less tame past. At one point on the record, Manson compares God to an expletive looking down on him. He even questions what will come of his soul in the afterlife, or whether that even exists. The best sentiments are the sequences in which he strikes more personally, though. “Slave Only Dreams To Be King” speaks toward a slave that cares less about freedom and values the premium of being a leader instead. “Cupid Carries A Gun” attacks the many pitfalls of love, talking about a female that appears to be a saint but has the wrath of the book of Revelations on the inside.
The Pale Emperor is Manson’s most vile and punchy album in the last eight years as well. Despite relying more on the industrial bit that made him popular over the past 24 years, there are meatier elements of instrumentation as well. The bass work is consistently great throughout the album, never feeling like a downfall in the weakest moments. The lead guitar work ranges from being more slight to charging forward with primal chorus sections that pack stunning blows. Drums are where the most improved instrumentation comes into play, though, and while the past three records felt a bit weak on that front, the stout kicks inject a new form of life into Manson’s aesthetic.
The scope of tones brought forth can range from western-inspired rock music to the more pained and slow structures that cut like a knife. The mid-tempo sounds take place throughout the record and never pick up to anything much faster, but this commitment creates a surprisingly cohesive album. “Birds of Hell Awaiting” is the most atmospheric track, living in a strange bit of purgatory but drifts quickly into hell as the track moves forward.
There are a few downsides to the record worth noting though. Despite being a darker album with plenty of interesting themes, there a few moments that feel too flat. “Birds of Hell Awaiting” flounders for far too long and ultimately repeats itself too often. “Warship My Wreck” has an intense instrumental to carry itself forward throughout but the cohesion never gets to a point that it should. Manson also is sharp on the vocal front but holds on to some notes too long for their own good.
The Pale Emperor shows off that Marilyn Manson still has the energy and potency to at least be a force worth noting in the rock realm for another decade. The instrumentals have enough primal instinct to question the state of rock music, while the lyricism is just as witty and serious as fans might expect from The Pale Emperor himself. Not only is this record a new starting point for his next phase, it’s almost enough to make up for the mistakes on his past attempts. Here’s to more work from the most infamous figure in mainstream rock music history!
1. Killing Strangers
2. Deep Six
3. Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge
4. The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles
5. Warship My Wreck
6. Slave Only Dreams To Be King
7. The Devil Beneath My Feet
8. Birds Of Hell Awaiting
9. Cupid Carries A Gun
10. Odds of Even
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