Sound — 7
Brian Warner began his career while going to college for a journalism degree, and formed the band The Spooky Kids. Later on the name was changed to the name of Brian's stage persona, Marilyn Manson, and through connections he had made with Trent Reznor of NIN had their debut album "Portrait Of An American Family" released on Reznor's record label and went on tour to support NIN. This sky-rocketed Marilyn Manson to national infamy due to the controversial persona that Marilyn Manson had developed. Although initially the concept for the band was something between industrial metal and hardcore punk rock, their musically gravitated towards more of an alternative metal sound. Over the years, Marilyn Manson has cultivated his stage persona in order to create and sustain a level of shock from the general public which has often over-shadowed their music.
Fast forward to 2012, and Marilyn Manson is releasing their eighth studio album, "Born Villain". Although they have fallen out of the national spotlight they had been such a subject of in the mid and late 90's, their music has been consistently interesting and often good. It appears that "Born Villain" will better than just interesting and will actually be a good album as well. I have to admit a distaste for the way Marilyn Manson has used shock as a marketing tool, and to enjoy his music I always have to listen to it and pretend I don't know anything about the band itself. I suggest this, as it really helps to enjoy the music for what it is. Really, the album feels like Marilyn trying to stretch a little bit but maybe not knowing exactly how to do it. At times it is well executed and at others it feels a little awkward. Regardless, it feels like a genuine effort, and honest, so I have to give it a thumbs up.
Lyrics — 7
As always, the lyrics of Marilyn Manson's songs range from being genuine to being designed to shock to just being generally depressive. I know that it sounds negative when I describe it that way but that isn't exactly how I mean it. I do have to be in the right frame of mind and mood to listen to Manson's lyrics, but often times I've learned while he may see the world through a distorted lens he isn't afraid to talk about the way things really are, at their darkest. We need artists that are willing to do this (even if they're possessed by their own over the top wigged out stage persona). The lyrics from Born Villain do seem to be much more personal than Brian Warner's past albums, which is something interesting because in the past his lyrics have been mostly about society or about the nature of fame.
From the song "The Gardener", you have the following lyrics: "I'm not man enough to be human but I'm trying to fit in and I'm learning to fake it/ don't ever meet their friends/ tells you too much or not enough/ or worse, exactly the wrong thing/ every nuance every detail every movement every smell/ sound phrase inflection/ the way she laughs/ these are all the things you either obsessively fetishize or make yourself grow to love/ although you are supposed to be done growing she is still growing/ it is like a garden with two flowers one just blooming/ and casting a shadow just like yours/ and then it becomes a struggle of sunlight or rain or weeds". Most of the lyrics on "Born Villain" seem to be primarily autobiographical. Marilyn's vocal delivery is really the same as it ever was not really any comment you can make on that, though there is much more spoken word delivery on "Born Villain" than his previous releases.
Overall Impression — 7
My favorite songs on the album are "No Reflection", "Slo-Mo-Tion", "Breaking The Same Old Ground", and the title track "Born Villain". The only song I really dislike is "Pistol Whipped". This isn't the best album ever from Marilyn Manson, but it is the best we've seen in a few releases and it is much more personal lyrically than previous releases. As I listen to multiple listens I seem to feel differently about the album at each listen, but the end verdict is it is a worthwhile collection of songs. You may be able to tell from reading my review that I ran the gambit of emotions regarding this album, and I think from the interviews I've read this is what Marilyn Manson has intended. If so, then great job on his part.
There are 14 tracks on the album counting the hidden track, which is a cover of "You're So Vain". With the bonus track the album clocks in at just over 63 minutes. This is really a respectable length for an album, which is a nice change from a lot of modern bands that release albums that clock in at under 30 minutes. A word about the bonus song the cover of "You're So Vain" if you don't compare it to the original, but listen to it as an individual song it isn't that bad, but it is probably the first cover from Marilyn Manson that I didn't like when compared to the original version.