18 years after Marilyn Manson’s controversial rise to prominence in the music industry, he trades his shock rock sound and image in favor of a slower bluesy tone in his latest album, The Pale Emperor.
On Jan. 19, Manson released his ninth album independently via his own label Hell, etc. under Cooking Vinyl. The album serves as collaboration between Manson and musician Tyler Bates, who is noteworthy for being the composer for films like "Guardians of the Galaxy."
The Pale Emperor serves as a reinvention of the musical style of Manson. The music on the album has more of an overall bluesy swing style to it and is the biggest departure from Manson’s notorious harsh sounding music to date.
With a notable reduction of synthesizers and digital sound effects that came with his earlier material, the album features a strong rhythm section from the bass and drums prominent throughout each song. The guitars are used more as an accentuating point as opposed to the driving force behind each song.
From the opening song, Killing Strangers, the tone and style of the album are established through a slower and moodier style that goes at a slower pace than in any other album Manson has released. The style is so distinct that the album’s first single, Deep Six, sticks out the most as it is the fastest song on the album and is more of a straight hard rock song.
Manson’s lyrics have also shifted, as his lyrics are more avant-garde and poetic as opposed to being more direct. His lyrics also feel more introspective at times. One example comes from the song The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles: “I feel sole and alone like a heretic / I'm ready to meet my maker / Lazarus has got no dirt on me / And I'll rise to every occasion / I'm the Mephistopheles of Los Angeles.”
The biggest problem with this album is the length of it. At 52 minutes long with only 10 songs, it’s a lengthy album and feels like it drags about halfway through. Songs like Killing Strangers and The Devil Beneath My Feet feel longer and at points feel as if the songs could be cut down a few minutes and nothing would be lost.
Overall it’s an interesting album that mixes some of Manson’s distinct lyrics and sound with more of a blues-influenced swing style.
I would give The Pale Emperor a 7.5/10 and anyone that is a fan of Manson’s work will probably find something they enjoy in this album.