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Album Review: Marilyn Manson – WE ARE CHAOS

Marilyn Manson and Shooter Jennings create dark magic on the Antichrist Superstar’s 11th album, WE ARE CHAOS

One could be forgiven for taking the title of WE ARE CHAOS literally, assuming that this would be a work along the same lines as 2017’s Heaven Upside Down. In one sense it is, in that it continues Marilyn Mansons recent(ish) creative upswing superbly, continuing to laugh at the notion that he’d lost the spark thanks to his stodgy few mid-00’s records. But there’s actually little chaos to be found here, compared to its two predecessors. There lay the harsh stomp of We Know Where You Fucking Live, whereas here it’s more 80s David Bowie Does The White Album. 

Manson has, of course, always had a bit of The Thin White Duke in him. Ditto that later period for The Beatles where they couldn’t be bothered to play live anymore and instead concentrated on the art of the album. With country guitarist Shooter Jennings on board – semi-recently seen jamming with Duff McKagan on the GN’R bassist’s 2018’s Tenderness solo album – in Manson’s own way, this drinks heavily from both to create something that’s artistic, stylish, explorative and the work of looking under rocks for inspiration.

This was obvious on the way in, with the title-track single running ahead of the album, bringing to mind a more scathing version of The Fab Four’s Across The Universe. But this wasn’t a diversion, or a red herring – this slightly calmer, more smooth-talking feeling is the meat in this chapter of the Marilyn Manson songbook. There are, of course, his hallmarks – a sense of stateliness at times, a sleazy rock club stench at others, a razor-sharp lyrical tongue always – but with a sense of coming from an older time, both sonically and creatively. 

Don’t Chase The Dead, for instance, has a robotic beat, but its chorus and its layers of synthy keys are the sound of how producers in 1978 imagined the music of the future to sound. On Half-Way One Step Forward, a piano and looped beat bring gutter-glitter to proceedings, while Infinite Darkness has a metal riff, and Perfume is all Depeche Mode swag. But what ties it all together as one is the replacement of nihilistic anger for a more Nick Cave approach. The solo in Keep My Head Together even, almost – and squint fucking hard here – has a sort of Charlatans, New Order-ish Madchester thing going on.

It’s not pared back, but WE ARE CHAOS is a less immediately antagonistic and forward prospect than recent output. But that’s a good thing that’s been mastered to darkly brilliant effect here. Unexpected, bold and artistic, Manson remains an artist it is dangerous to underestimate. 

Verdict: 4/5

For Fans Of: David Bowie, Depeche Mode, Queens Of The Stone Age 

WE ARE CHAOS is released on September 11 via Caroline

READ THIS: The 20 greatest Marilyn Manson songs – ranked

Posted on September 10th 2020, 11:08a.m.
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