Marilyn Manson - Born Villain
Long since having my full attention, the enigmatic, charismatic Marilyn Manson needs little fanfare in introducing a new album to me. While I am aware of the hype surrounding any new releaise of his, for Born Villain I really let my own anticipation grow. Having recently ventured through his discography (for the millionth time, perhaps) in preparation, I came to a certain realization: I will never enjoy a Marilyn Manson record the way I did in my youth. Perhaps it lies in the very nature of his artistic directions in his early years, or the comparative simplicity and relative repetition of his music, in regards to how my tastes have expanded over the years. This changed my approach somewhat to Born Villain insofar that I've been able to approach it with far less expectation and more of a general curiosity. I don't think this reflects my score, but it does reflect my growing attachment.
When longtime collaborator and bassist Twiggy Ramirez was reintroduced into Manson's lineup, what had become a somehwat stagnant pool of collective creativity was replenished to a notable extent. The High End Of Low was a solid record, and one which I gave a 4/5 in my review. In retrospect, especially considering my greater appreciation for Born Villain, that score seems awfully generous. I was far more focused on the hopeful prospects certain moments of the record generated, rather than the overalll enjoyment of the album as a whole. In a way, it laid a much-needed foundation over the ruins of Manson's long-gone earlier successes, a ramp of sorts to lead up to Born Villain, truly the best record MM has put together in a long, long time.
One very easy way to review this album would be to lump each track into which Marilyn Manson it most closely resembles. Any fan will understand this mentality, as there are drastic differences between each MM album, so much so that each album is often considered an "era" in and of itself. One of the highest praises I can relate regarding Born Villain is that it somehow manages to touch base with every previous "era", a goal that at times seems destiny and at others seems so cleverly planned and accomplished. Whether by chance or by purpose, Born Villain often feels like an old friend. But in the truest sense, it's mostly an outstanding example of how the creative juices continue to flow.
Opener "Hey, Cruel World..." and lead single "No Reflection" don't do all that much for me, but the former certainly has an attitude to it more genuine that recent attempts the band has made, and the latter is undoubtedly catchy, if bland and uneventful compared to other tracks. "Pistol Whipped" almost threw me off totally in the early going; with a revolving pistol chamber that reminds one instantly of a similar sound effect used on "Holywood", the introduction leads you one way and the song...well...it brings to mind "Bringing Sexy Back" whether or not it intends to. Which isn't totally unusual coming from a pop star, however unfitting the title may seem, but still seems out of place. "Overneath The Path Of Misery" is where the album truly starts to pick up steam. The overall feel is of some of the grimier moments from "Portrait of an American Family", but the chorus is absolutely brimming with aggression, a moment of intensity I haven't felt from a MM track in longer than I care to remember. The rest of the record is almost entirely solid, with "Lay Down Your Goddamn Arms" being one of the most surprisingly awesome and enjoyable songs I've heard from any band this year.
In the interest of cutting this short(er), I'll wrap this up by simply stating that Born Villain is both a return to form and an introduction to a new "era" for Marilyn Manson, an album of excellently written rock/metal that spans the sounds and highlights of his entire catalog, while seamlessly injecting his trademark lyrical intrigue. All in all, it is an album that can either resurrect a career or mark it's ending on a very satisfying note.
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