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Thursday, 15 August 2013 14:54

How the Mighty Fall

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I remember when I was in a record store in a local mall at the age of 10-11 years old. I was looking through the new arrivals in the cd stand where one could choose between a few albums to listen to and this one album cover was a bit more interesting than the others so it cought my eye.
I had never seen anything like this: A picture of a person with a male looking face, tits and a bulge in the crotch area.  A kind of androgynous being with flaming red hair and black roots. Though this guy was new to me, he was already known throughout the world for his shock rock, being USA‘s no. 1 villain, killing innocent animals and encouraging teenagers to committ acts of violence and irresponsible sexual activities. A few years later I would read about that and find out what was true and what was a lie. In case somebody‘s still wondering just who the hell I‘m talking about, it‘s Brian Hugh Warner, a.k.a. Marilyn Manson, and the album is of course his 1998 release Mechanical Animals. During my every visit to the mall I‘d go to that record store to listen to the album. Finally I found a band that I really liked, something I felt connected to, something that spoke to me, something that fascinated me. I had found my first favourite band, first favourite album and first favourite song in the first single, The Dope Show, and not just because my friends listened to it.

After a while, where I had only been able to listen to Mechanical Animals during my visits to the mall, because this was before every kid had their own computer and I didn‘t even know what downloading was, a friend of mine gave me the album as a birthday present. Just imagine the look on a young kid‘s face getting his favourite thing in the world as a present! To hell with all the candy stores, life couldn‘t get any better. Of course I used every chance I got to listen to the album and when I was alone at home I would turn up the volume (and I still sometimes do because I still have the same copy, 14-15 years later). As time went by I got more of Manson‘s albums, either as a present from my parents for helping out at home or by saving up money and buying them myself, because cd‘s weren‘t as expensive in those days.
As I got older, I only gained interest in the band and for a period in my life, I hardly listened to anything else. There were other good bands that I liked, but no one was even close to being as good or important to me as Marilyn Manson. They were my saviour from teenage angst, the band I listened to the most and the one that I felt I could really connect with and I believed they stood by me through hardship. Surely I wasn‘t the only teenager that felt that way about Marilyn Manson, or any other band for that matter. I related to some of the lyrics and I thought many of them were great. For example, The Beautiful People is about individuality and talks about how one should be him/herself instead of giving in to the masses and become like everyone else. Still, my parents and others worried about this, or at least they let the fact that I loved the band bother them and my dad went as far as to blame the music for the fact that I was a difficult teenager, though we both know today that Marilyn Manson, or any other band, wasn‘t the fault.
Luckily I didn‘t lose it and knew that this was just a band. A really good one, but none the less just a band. As a „proper fan“ I kept my support through the years by buying their releases and telling people that hadn‘t heard of the band about them. I was sad when Twiggy Ramirez left the band because he was my favourite member, but Tim Skold proved himself to me so it was all fine. Every time there was a new Marilyn Manson release coming out was a great time and of course I got excited about that. I mean, who doesn‘t love when their favourite band releases a new album? Then Eat Me, Drink Me was released. I went to check it out because this was still my favourite band, though my taste in music had broadend and I had more favourite bands. I think that was the time when I first experienced disappointment when it came to music. At least it was the biggest disappointment with one album that I had experienced by then. Before it wouldn‘t surprise me if there was maybe one song that I thought less of than the rest of an album and would therefore sometimes skip over, but Eat Me, Drink Me had one or two songs that I liked. The rest was... I don‘t even want to think about it. I read in interviews where he talked about a hard break-up and that he had to make this album to work himself away from his troubles. I could understand that someone needs to do that, but I still thought that was a rather bad excuse for a bad album after waiting for four years. Pogo had left as well as John 5 and and Tim Skold had taken over the guitar and keyboard duties with Chris Vrenna joining shortly afterwards to fill the keyboard position.
Two years later they released The High End Of Low. That one was better, but it didn‘t leave anything behind for me. At least I‘ve never had any part of any song from it stuck on my mind, and to be honest I can‘t say I could hum any tune from it or quote the lyrics to any of the songs except maybe when the title of one is in the chorus. I felt like Manson had nothing to say anymore, there was no message. The lyrics were just repetetive and were mostly bad wordplay. Musically it was better than Eat Me, Drink Me. At least good enough for me not to want to jam a screwdriver in my ears instead of listening on. I thought that the good old Manson, the man and the band as I had always known them, were back and had really high hopes for the next album! The first good sign was that Twiggy was back and I believed that with him, nothing could go wrong.
Man, was I wrong. Early last year I started hearing about a new album being on the way. I heard about Manson and Ramirez talking about the sound on the new album. They had been touring with Slayer and claimed it would be influenced by them and referred to the album as „really death metal“, and Twiggy said it was their best work so far and it would be „a little more of punk rock Mechanical Animals“. I thought that mix was a bit strange, seeing as Mechanical Animals is their most pop sounding album and I didn‘t think that death metal and pop wold make a good combo. I decided to keep an open mind and wait for the album, but I made sure not to get my hopes too high because the disappointment with Eat Me, Drink Me was still fresh in my memory. 
Finally Born Villain was released. As I had planned I checked it out. A chill after chill went through my body. Not because it was good. It was terrible. I had to literally force myself to finish the album because I had decided to listen to the whole thing and I felt that I should because this band used to be my favourite band. To me it was apparent; Marilyn Manson had lost it. In my opinion, Born Villain sounds like really bad ideas that they got on a strange trip and should have never seen the daylight. What surprised me the most about the album is, besides the fact how boring and bad it is, is that Twiggy co-wrote most of the songs on it, but he‘s responsible for many of the bands best songs.
The best thing Manson could do to make a terrible situation any better would be to make peace with Pogo, John 5 and Ginger Fish and get them to join the band again, Twiggy needs to clean up his act, or rather get it dirty again and possibly to start working with Trent Reznor again. Then they might actually make good music again, but I don‘t really think there‘s any chance that‘ll happen. I think I can honestly say that I will not be following the music Marilyn Manson will release in the future. I might check it out, but I‘ll know better than to wait eagerly for a new release. I‘d prefer if he‘d focus on writing and film making, because I think nowadays that would be a better creative outlet for him based on what I‘ve seen from him. Of course he can make all the music he wants, I just won‘t follow it and will be sad about seeing one of my all time favourite bands pull a „G‘N‘R“, as in get old, tired and boring while still at it and let it come down hard on the creative process and the performance. I‘ll just stick to the older albums and remember the good times.
Kristján Fenrir

Senior Music Editor

Follow him on Twitter!


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