Sound — 8
Marilyn Manson has done nothing if not evolve over the course of his headline-grabbing career. He's adopted a David Bowie-esque persona, sliced himself up on stage and been blamed for school shootings and for encouraging the disaffected youth. That's all beside the point. Manson's main mission is making raw, mechanical, industrial-influenced hard rock. He's gotten back to that basic tenet of his sound on The High End of Low. There's a few polished moments here and there like Leave a Scar and 15 but he also slashes and burns with the in-your-face, both lyrically and musically, Pretty as a Swastika and Arma-Goddamn-Motherf--kin-Geddon. Manson isn't attempting to play nice. He's brought bassist Twiggy Ramirez back into the fold, which has reignited some of his old, semi-dormant anger. These two bring out the worst, and we mean that in the best possible way, in one another. Manson proudly lets his scraggly, industrial roots show on Blank and White, while Four Rusted Horses is influenced by the drug-dusted, Mechanical Animals-era of his career.
Lyrics — 8
Manson Brian Warner to his momma- isn't holding back, but then again, did we expect him to? He's talking swastikas, leaving scars, stupid teenage girls and a host of other topics that will have the Christian right wing faction hitting the roof and popping gaskets. He's not just looking for the cheap thrill, though; he's posing questions about how numb we've become to all the shit we see on the local evening news, where human beings are switched out in favor of being a nameless, faceless statistic. Manson bleeds on this record and that's just how we like it.
Overall Impression — 8
Not as gnarly as Antichrist Superstar and not nearly as eccentric as Mechanical Animals, The High End of Low is certainly more memorable than, say, Holy Wood or even Eat Me, Drink Me. Ramirez must be the catalyst sparking Manson's creative drive and gears, because he hasn't sounded this delightfully or determinedly pissed if in quote a long time. Manson is retrofitted to his groove on The High End of Low so let's hope he continues down this path for the next few years. Even though he hasn't really fallen from grace, he's certainly rebounding, musically-speaking, with The High End of Low, which does dip here and there with a few slow-tempo, melancholic songs like the haunting, ballad-like Running to the Edge of the world. But even the more maudlin songs retain Manson's edge. The High End of Low may confound some, with its alternating current of hope and despair, but diehard Manson'ites will click with this album with fevered passion.