“I’m not man enough to be human but I’m trying to fit in and I’m learning to fake it” sings the man who Christians once thought was the devil incarnate. Luckily for the Christians they don’t have to listen to him if they don’t want to. But you do because you’re not a stupid person.
Born Villain by Marilyn Manson
At the beginning of their career Marilyn Manson were known for being trend setters. 1996’s Antichrist Superstar was a sub-culture creating behemoth that inspired the inception of countless like minded bands. It also created fear and worry amongst conservatives while the band became scapegoats for societies ills at the time. 1998’s Mechanical Animals was the 80’s Bowie inspired album that changed the world of alternative music forever by proving you don’t need to have loud guitars, drums and vocals to make an album that shows disdain for society and the media. 2000’s Holy Wood was the slow, dark, heavy and angry response to the conservatives’ views on Marilyn Manson. 2003’s The Golden Age Of Grotesque seemingly came out of nowhere and showed off how inventive Marilyn Manson could be by heavying up ragtime inspired rhythms. After this point the band stopped being trend setters and began following the trends with 2007’s emo-inspired Eat Me, Drink Me then 2009’s pop-rock The High End Of Low.
All the while the band never lost their ethos and now, three years later the band’s eighth studio album, Born Villain, has been unleashed upon the world. This album is not a trend setter by any means nor is it following any trends. Born Villain is a cleaner, less aurally intense and less cluttered album with room to breathe that has been conceived under the lessons learnt from the band’s previous successful and unsuccessful albums. It’s a dark album that’s not necessarily heavy but nor is it necessarily soft and it leans towards the Nine Inch Nails school of production whilst retaining the Marilyn Manson sound. The first thing noticeable about the album is how accessible and catchy it is. The song structure is reminiscent of simple pop songs with simple bridges and repeating verses. There aren’t layers upon layers of sounds here battling for attention, instead they’ve taken the subliminal road and scattered little weaving layers of electronics around which gives the album a must-listen-to-again-and-again-to-hear-every-little-thing quality.
Marilyn Manson have never been the sort of band to move backwards and Born Villain is yet another step forward. The most instantly recognisable Marilyn Manson trademark track is ‘Overneath the Path of Misery’ while the single ‘No Reflection’ is one catchy tune. Lyrically, this album stands taller than all of their previous releases and Manson’s vocals are at the best they’ve ever been in terms of actually “singing”. ‘Children of Cain’ stands out as the ballad type anthem featuring lyrics you just can’t help but want to sing. Album closer ‘Breaking the Same Old Ground’ is a tongue in cheek look in the mirror for Manson himself. And then there’s a cover of Carly Simon’s ‘You’re So Vain’.
It’s hard to categorise Born Villain as anything except for a Marilyn Manson album. Having lost their way in the recent past it’s good to see the band get back on track and release a record that is so true to themselves they made it look effortless.
Born Villain is out now through Independent/Cooking Vinyl/Shock
Reviewed by thepackedvacuum