Villain n wretch, evil-doer, criminal, miscreant, blackguard, rogue, rascal, cad, scallywag, malefactor, scoundrel
– The Oxford Thesaurus,1991, p537
I tend to hate reading through music reviews of albums, because frankly a person’s taste in music is so subjective, that to actually say “that is crap” or “that is amazing” is as ridiculous as saying “Marilyn Manson’s career is dead”.
Unlike many Manson fan’s I enjoyed Eat Me Drink Me and The High End of Low, some of my favourite songs come from those albums. Regardless of what other people say, those albums resonated with me.
I discovered Manson, when I was about 10/11. It was an immediate soul-clinching attraction, after all, growing up on Bowie and Metal it was only a matter of time before I became acquainted with this darkly seductive voice of anger, violence, sex, death and pain.
Manson rescued so many of us from our depressive, self-inflicted rage, that he is the Antichrist Saviour to many of us who have considered suicide at points in our lives. Despite what 90s era conservative parents and media were saying, Manson was our voice, and because he gave us a voice, he inspired many of us to value ourselves, our opinions and our creativity. He allowed us to escape from the ridiculous drone of our lives, to escape from all the bullies, and gave us a home, where all the misfits and outcasts could feel “not-alone”.
My favourite album of his of all time is still Mechanical Animals, not surprising since I’m a huge Bowie fan myself, and it had particular resonance to a certain time in my life, which still impacts the way I see art. In fact I wrote about Manson’s Omega/Alpha for two of my Art papers, one about Hermaphrodism and the other about the body and violence.
The album Born Villain, however, does not disappoint! These are the anthems of those of us who grew up with Manson. This album, with its particularly interesting references to the Rape of Persephone, Macbeth (My favourite Shakespearean play) and Baudelaire, certainly touches me on many levels.
The whole Born Villain theme carries through into my own life, where the lines between victim and villain are blurred. I have quite a bit of my own self-abusive thoughts to relate quite well to this album.
“In any story, the villain is the catalyst. The hero’s not a person who will bend the rules or show the cracks in his armor. He’s one-dimensional intentionally, but the villain is the person who owns up to what he is and stands by it. He’ll do the things that are sometimes morally questionable, but he does it because it’s his nature to do it and it doesn’t fluctuate. It’s the fable of the frog and the scorpion, all those stories that just say, whatever you’re going to be, stick to it in confidence. Don’t waver or life will f*** you over.”
-from CNN article
I can honestly say that this album will be my background music to all of my own self-deprecating/accepting explorations into myself through art.
“It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. ”
– William Shakespeare
We need to realise, that this is (or is not) relevant to the entire album. So many people, including myself try to apply meaning to Manson’s lyrics, meanings that may or not be the original meanings, meanings that reflect our own understandings of the world and most importantly, of ourselves.
This album [signifies] nothing (or everything), depending on who you are in your life right now, which has always been a running theme with Manson, from the very fact that he IS Marilyn Manson, as much as he IS Brian Warner, to the fact that he IS the Antichrist Superstar, and IS the Villain, and Is the Monster we Fear, he IS Omega, and Alpha and the (S)aint.
In all of his albums he has, to some extent, been exploring and developing his identity and as we latch on to each piece of his personality, or non/personality, he is opening the door for us to see our own identity crises, our own problems with reconciling victim and villain, Anti-Christ/Saviour, dark and Light. We inevitably have to acknowledge that at some points we are not being truthful to ourselves and who we are, and Manson, does that with this album, by showing unequivocally who he is.
Guns and flowers are recurring symbols within this album, both of which potently explore decadence, sex, violence, anger, emotion and passion.
There is a definite goth/post punk influence on this album, with parts that remind me specifically of Bauhaus (The opening of Pistol Whipped- Bela Lugosi’s Dead), Joy Division and Killing Joke, which Manson has cited as influences.
The album, shows a refreshed Manson, sporting tunes that make me bounce and bob around, including a witty cover of “You’re so Vain”.
Marilyn Manson’s lyrical form is amazing, whether they are shocking or not is a moot point, as Manson has always been a man after my own heart.
As I’m not a music reviewer, I cannot really express the musical aspects of the album properly, but what I can say is that I was thoroughly impressed by it all, there was something touching, throbbing, ebbing, groaning, grinding, powerful and terrifyingly beautiful in the compositions, that make this album really good. Manson’s freedom, after an expired contract with Interscope, allows him to create what he wanted to be, who he wanted to become.
This album harks back to Manson’s Triptych, which is encoded within lyrics, tone and darkly violent energy while showing that Manson never left the building in the first place, giving us something new and ferociously seductive to listen to.
“Hey Cruel world” opens the album up fantastically with Manson’s slow grinding voice, which erupts into powerful hard-hitting vocals and guitars.
The single “No Reflections” is as cruelly and masochistically tantalising as the music video.
“Pistol Whipped” is darkly sarcastic and violently expressive, and has a lot more to it than its psychotic lyrics suggest.
“Overneath the path of misery” is the tune we remember from the movie “Born Villain” directed by Shia Labeouf. Macbeth, and Greek mythology combine with this deliciously brutal song.
“from the top of my lungs
to the bottom of my heart
at the chasm in between
and the path of misery”
“Slo-Mo-Tion” is a more slowly paced song, as the title suggests, and combines some interesting sounds.
“The Gardener” combines some new and classic “Manson” musical themes, creating something very interesting and enjoyable.
“The Flowers of Evil”, named from Les Fleurs Du Mal of Baudelaire, combines a catchy beat with winding vocals which build up throughout the song.
“Children of Cain” is lyrically perfect with a plucking, thudding apocalyptic tune, and the intense vocals remind me of the Holywood and EMDM.
“Disengaged” picks up with bluesy beat that pumps into a metal chorus.
“Lay down your goddamn arms”, hits hard with its guitars.
“Murderers are getting prettier everyday”, pumps it up even harder into a truly heavy metal song, carrying all the fury and rage of Antichrist Superstar.
The title track “Born Villain” is quite nice and reminds me of some classic Manson combined with what he was doing on EMDM and THEOL.
The penultimate track “Breaking the Same old Ground”, opens with the sound of a music box being wound up which reminds me of the “Count to 6 and die” turning of the pistol chamber. The song is quite reminiscent of that era as well, but shows that Manson can bring a classic sound into a new era successfully adding new and interesting elements.
The bonus track I’ve already spoken about briefly, but features Johnny Depp on drums and Guitars and I enjoy the cover more than the original.
I thoroughly enjoy this album, and feel that Manson is definitely moving in the right direction. I’m definitely going to be cranking this up morning and night for quite some time!
Related articles and recommended links
- Album Review: Marilyn Manson – Born Villain (ametalstateofmind.com)
- Marilyn Manson: new album “Born Villain” out today, listen now! (hangout.altsounds.com)
- Marilyn Manson, ‘Born Villain’ – Album Review (loudwire.com)
- Born Villain
- Marilyn Manson- official
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