The Pale Emperor review by Marilyn Manson

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  • Released: Jan 20, 2015
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.2 (51 votes)
Marilyn Manson: The Pale Emperor

Sound — 9
Marilyn Manson's album number 9 and in the same time his second album without the Nine Inch Nails' frontman-mastermind Trent Reznor's production. By the way it's Manson's second album released on his own label Hell, etc. after his 2012 work "Born Villain." But from this, for me rather undefined, sound he moved really far away. It mostly sounds like blues rock from the '80s which he never sounded like before. The second point is the length of the songs: the majority of them is 5+ minutes long and some are even 6 minutes long! And this is not because this record is repetitive. It's exactly the opposite: most of the songs contain a guitar solo which isn't usual for a typical Manson album (except songs written by Daisy Berkowitz for "Portrait of an American Family" from 1994 or 13 years later Tim Skold's shredding skills on "Eat Me, Drink Me"). From the other side there are a lot of breaks built in. For an example there are songs like "The Reflecting God" from "Antichrist Superstar" or "Wrapped in Plastic" from his 1994 debut which contain some breaks which is very odd from the classic "intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus" structure.

The instruments are minimalistic as always mostly 2 or in very few cases 3 different guitar tracks, bass and drums and sometimes a keyboard to overdub the sound. The vocals are very big surprise because when you listen to his last albums you will notice that he sounds really weak and tired. This album doesn't like a "rebirth" of his voice but his has discovered it from a new side. Mostly using clear vocals to make it fit to the instrumental part and the atmosphere he makes something different in comparison to his older records where he used to sing with scream vocals or sometimes even to rap like "Lunchbox" or "Cake and Sodomy."

Lyrics — 7
As always the lyrics were the most important part of Manson's works which gives him his individuality and his expression also on stage. As the most people who listen to his music know the themes of his lyrics this album will be a little bit strange for you. No anti-religious paroles, no drugs (ok there are some but not that much as before), no identity crisis and also the masturbating grandpa Jack, the dead monkey and Manson's lunchbox collection were left back in Fort Lauderdale. You also won't see Manson's loving side like "Heart-Shaped Glasses," "Coma White" or "Into the Fire." On this record the lyrics sound very dominant and powerful without trying to shock anyone but to build the emperor-like atmosphere which he wangles perfectly. But the lyrics don't have a wide spectrum on this album and there are a lot of repetitions so I think that there is something missing but still better than average.

Overall Impression — 8
This record sounds as a mixture of 1998 released "Mechanical Animals" and "Eat Me, Drink Me" from 2007. All the three records have this blues feeling and a lot of guitar work comaped to other albums. But the thing that reminds me the most on "Eat Me, Drink Me" is the dirty but not aggressive stoner rock style which makes the whole thing more special. But when you compare this with other artists you can think first of all about Metallica's "Load" or "ReLoad" but in the good sence-the melodies and the more steady riffs without the Metallica-usual pressure like "Master of Puppets" or "Creeping Death." There you can find more things like "The Memory Remains," "King Nothing" or "2x4." The stoner rock touch can be compared with Arctic Monkeys' "Suck It and See" dessert-style album with this massive reverb effect and a great live feeling but with a big minus. In a typical Manson song like "Tourniquet," "Minute of Decay" (best example for it :D), "Sweet Tooth" or his probably most famous Eurythmics cover classic "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" has a very big dynamical difference between song part, like a silent verse then rising tension and then an aggressive, screaming chorus. This album is very even but it isn't just a hazard it just belongs to the stoner rock style you just have to adjust to it - he wanted to try out something new.

Good songs:
"Deep Six," "Mephistopheles of Los Angeles," "Odds and Even," "Third Day of a Seven Day Binge," "Cupid Carries a Gun," "Killing Strangers."

Average songs:
"Birds of Hell Awaiting," "The Devil Beneath My Feet."

Bad/forgettable songs:
"Slave Only Dreams to be King," "Warship My Wreck" (very bad song, I just don't get it how it could be placed on this album).

This album is more than average, not as good as "Antichrist" or "Portrait" but nobody would wait for this level. Anyway, it was way better than his last two albums which were relatively uninspired and weak.

16 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Ste Ramakers
    Why does no one else seem to rate Holywood like I do? THAT, and Mechanical Animals are my favourites
    Holy Wood is great, I'm not sure I'd place it above Antichrist or Mechanical though. I don't know, those 3 are all really good, they share rank 1.
    Emenius Sleepus
    I felt that at least by the time he finished Holy Wood, he said all the things that he intended as his big 'statements', and it took a few albums to adjust his work to the different direction. Considering from Antichrist... and up to HW has been essentially a conceptual trilogy, perhaps he wasn't sure which direction to go from there. It shows in subsequent indulgent and mediocre, directionless work. It seems that the newest record is finally a return to form. I've not paid attention to many things he has recorded since the Golden Age, since they all lacked the impact of what he did previously - as well as moving on to other music, - but even I can say that TPE has caught my attention.
    I have not been this drawn into a Manson album since Holywood. I love it.
    "Marilyn Manson's album number 9 and in the same time his second album without the Nine Inch Nails' frontman-mastermind Trent Reznor's production." I thought he only produced one album of Manson.
    silent caution
    i like manson. I'm happy hes focusing on the music part of it. It seems like he was always too caught up in his gimmick that it often takes away from what relly isnt bad stuff musically
    Maybe my ears are broken (I am one who will continue to stand up for High End of Low and Born Villain), but this album was just so boring .
    Definitely his best post-triptych album. I thoroughly enjoyed it and loved the dark atmospheres that pervade the album. I wrote a full review over on my music blog: =]
    I like it alot, but i've noticed his voice being very.. Slurred and not punchy at all, which doesn't have to be a bad thing, but it's strange, back on GAOG, alot of the stuff was so damn fast, punchy and witty. I think him taking up weed has slowed him down abit ;b