The Emperor’s New Clothes
The Pale Emperor, Marilyn Manson’s newest album, is a foray into the unknown for most of his fans. Gone are the crushing anthems of his youth and in it’s place are seething, brooding songs about the end of youth and the end of love. He’s shedding his industrial roots and going for a more dark, cynical rock n’ roll superstar sound.
The first song on The Pale Emperor, called “Killing Strangers,” sounds like it could have come from the cutting room floor off any Nick Cave album. Which is a good thing. It’s got a bluesy stomp and clap feel that lends itself really well to the sparse lyrical content. It’s an eye opening tune, as it puts this new sound into perspective. It’s more mature but still just as angry. He seethes with every line.
That’s not to say he hasn’t given up completely on his rougher edges. “Deep Six,” the second song on the album, gets the blood pumping a little bit. It’s got the feel of a dark blues cover mixed in with that glam version of Manson we knew a few years back. Heavy metal guitars push their way in and bring back that dark heaviness.
“The Third Day of Seven,” maybe the catchiest song on The Pale Emperor, and its best, is the beating heart of this album. Guitars jangle in dark and his brooding vocal is as catchy as ever. His voice goes from rock chewing welps to grinding screams of agony. But by then end of the first verse, you’re singing along – a notable trait of his music that made him big in the first place. Heavy but catchy with the dark imagery took him to new heights in the late nineties – and it can still take him to new heights.
Manson has changed images over the past couple of decades on more than one occasion (Who can forget Mechanical Animals?) and each time it was brought with a new album. This one feels as though he might have found the suit that finally fits. That suit equates to being comfortable in your skin and being the villain (or the hero) you’ve always intended to be. For The Pale Emperor, his new clothes are fitting just fine.