It’s been called the most anticipated album of 2012, it’s been called the least anticipated album of 2012. Whether you love him or hate him, Manson proves he’s here to stay. I’m not going to lie, after his last two albums my expectations for this were pretty low. “No Reflection” didn’t really impress me at first and I just didn’t get excited about the record. But after I heard it, I was pumped. Manson has finally gotten back to his roots. This is the comeback record he was aiming for in 2007.
Whereas the last two albums were decent with a few standout songs on them, this album is full of awesome, in-your-face songs. It opens with the intense and aggressive “Hey Cruel World.” This one song has what the other songs from the last two albums were missing: passion. It instantly grabs your attention because Manson doesn’t sound like he’s bored. It has the classic hate and anger fans are used to hearing from his records. Also, Manson’s voice is on point here. There’s no more wailing and whining. He’s back to screaming out his hate. When you hear that first line, it really takes you back to Antichrist Superstar. This song definitely gets you ready for the rest of the album.
A lot of the songs here are reminiscent of other Manson records. “Slo-mo-tion” has a killer bass riff that provides the heavy groove for this song. The groove and the weird distorted vocals makes this sound like a song from Mechanical Animals. “Children of Cain” is a slow song with music that drones on like a sick siren. The sound of the music and the pained vocals from Manson harkens back to the epic track “Coma White.” Though these songs may sound like material from earlier records, it doesn’t sound like Manson is trying to rip himself off. Rather, it sounds like he’s back to his roots instead of trying to reinvent himself.
There isn’t a disappointing song to be found here. Every track packs a punch and reminds you that Marilyn Manson is still badass. “Lay Down Your Goddamn Arms” has a sensual groove mixed with genuine and vulnerable vocals. It seems like a personal song, especially when he sings “There isn’t a key you can use on me.” It’s as if he’s saying no one can open him up anymore. Though it’s not as fast as some of the other songs, it’s still a heavy track. “Murderers are Getting Prettier Every Day” is an intense track with an aggressive racing guitar riff. There’s also an insanely fast solo that will melt your face off. The vocals are also harsh and intense, just like we like them. This song will get you pumped and head banging before you know it. And check out the cool spoken word feel of “The Gardener.”
The lyrics on this album seem more well thought out and genuine than on the last two records. It actually seems like he sat down to write these lyrics, rather than stringing together a bunch of words and images that would seem shocking. Also, the songs have more substance and weight. The lyrics for the songs on the last album were repetitive. Basically, he would say two lines and repeat them for the rest of the verse. While this technique isn’t totally absent here (see “Breaking the Same Old Ground”) it’s not as annoying because the songs are just better in general.
The vocals are also way better here. On the previous two albums, Manson decided to stop being angry, so he didn’t have aggression in his vocals. Rather, he would actually sing, but it sounded more like groaning, moaning and whining. Some of these vocals are on a few of these songs, but for the most part the vocals sound like classic Manson. He has that anger, hatred and aggression he was missing before. He also sounds passionate here. On the last record, he sounded bored and complacent with what he was doing. But here it sounds like he’s actually enjoying music again.
My only complaint for the album is that the second half of the album seems to drag a little bit. It’s not because the songs are boring or bad. It’s because at this point the songs are slower than the others and they’re all placed together. If the songs were spread out better or if there were a few more faster songs on the album the problem would be fixed.
Overall, the album gets 8.5/10. It’s an awesome comeback album and proves that Manson still has it in him. The songs are awesome, the vocals are on point, and the lyrics are more thoughtful than before. With some of the songs sounding like his classic material, it feels like he’s gotten back to his roots. This album isn’t his most fantastic work like Mechanical Animals and it shouldn’t be expected to be because that part of his life is over. We’ll probably never get an album like that again, but this is still an impressive record.