Marilyn Manson returns with signature darkness, intelligence

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Marilyn Manson is back and better than ever on Born Villain, the follow-up to 2009’s The High End of Low. The album is packed with dark lyrical content and heavy, distorted riffs, both staples of Manson’s music. (Photo via Marilyn Manson’s official website).

Having been quiet since 2009’s The High End of Low, alternative metal’s prince of darkness Marilyn Manson returns with Born Villain.

Like Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, there is a beauty in Manson’s corrupt and tainted mind, painting stomach-churning pictures that are not for the faint of heart. Having originally found success during the rise and popularity of nu metal, Manson distanced himself from that movement, preferring alternative metal anguish over cookie monster-sounding raps. Manson’s balance of thought-provoking visual and lyrical content has greatly contributed to the artist’s success. His longevity is due to how unrestrained he his in his art, saying and doing whatever he pleases since his inception back in 1994.

This continues to be the case even now. Prior to Born Villain’s release, Manson, alongside director Shia LaBeouf (Yes, the Shia LaBeouf) created the album’s teaser trailer. A combination of sexual fetishes, punishment and judgment, the video’s dark and sinister atmosphere means only one thing: Manson is back.

And the album is truly a testament to that. Single “No Reflection” chugs with dark, industrial rock riffs, accompanying its fearless leader. “I don’t know which me that I love/Got no reflection,” sings Manson. His self-loathing indicates that not even superstardom can save him from himself.

“Overneath the Path of Misery” will undoubtedly stand out, even against Manson classics like “The Beautiful People” and “Antichrist Superstar.” “The rape of Persephone was a marketing scheme,” croons Manson. This is what has always made Manson so appealing: He is boundaryless and says the most appalling things defiantly.

There is an intelligence veiled beneath Manson’s darkness which has always been a staple of his music. He’s not just being controversial for the sake of being controversial. There’s a message behind everything, bringing to light the many things (rape, abuse, aggression) that often we are too hesitant to discuss.

The lyrical content is a reminder of why we hate to love Manson. He tells it like it is — and there’s no stopping him.

Unfortunately, the music on Born Villain does become redundant after some time. The grunge distortion and chug-chug-chug riffs do not change much as the album progresses. It acts as a bare minimum for frontman Manson: helping him get from beginning to end in one piece.

Born Villain is a return that will surely please devoted Manson fans and anger his opposers — something that maniacal madman Manson is all too familiar with.

Printed on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 as:Manson returns with signature darkness