Marilyn Manson â€“ Born Villain
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Label: Cooking Vinyl // Hell, Inc.
Review by: Michael Faries
I wasn’t sure if I should even bother writing a review of Born Villain, considering most everyone already has their own, stagnant opinion of Marilyn Manson. After being vilified by every person with a weak shock-absorbency and every single negative online critic with a voice that is loud only when their caps were on, and â€“ conversely – hearing the hype from mainstream press that this is Manson’s comeback, I prepared myself to listen with a very critical ear. I bought this album because I’m a fan of most of Manson’s works and I have an everlasting hope that he will once again provide me with an aggression for something that I can identify with, as he has â€“ sporadically â€“ throughout the last seventeen years of my knowing of him. Numberless artists of the post-Industrial scene have been influenced by â€“ at least â€“ a portion of Marilyn Manson’s career, whether it is found in the music or the aesthetics. So â€œFUCK ITâ€; what say we take a look at this newest release?
Not much has changed, looks-wise, from the previous two albums (or at least from 2009′s â€œThe High End of Lowâ€ â€“ when everyone decided to grow their eyebrows back), except a noticeable weight-gain, on Manson’s part.
Born Villain opens with what makes the whole album most interesting: guitar work that isn’t as skillful as it is creatively-placed. â€œHey, Cruel Worldâ€ starts with the speedy strumming of a fisted guitar neck, is joined by a more melodic guitar part, and then Manson’s quiet chorus preview, which is very reminiscent of Antichrist Superstar‘s â€œMister Superstarâ€. The payoff in this song won’t make you feel quite as wealthy as you did before, but it is a great Metal-Rock opening track. The first single from the album, â€œNo Reflectionâ€, follows, providing us with some attention-demanding, popping drums from Chris Vrenna. This song is very heavy-catchy, as one should expect from Manson, but may require more than one listen to really sink in.
One of the best songs from Born Villain is up next. The title and theme of â€œPistol Whippedâ€ is a typical Manson play on words, where â€œPistolâ€ is substituted for â€œPussyâ€. Get it? This is a heard-it-before, slow verse and loud chorus song, but is ultimately very satisfying with the help of Manson’s endless vocal layers and maddening guitar effects, and will endlessly remind me of the most unique song from the previous release, â€œWOWâ€ . â€œOverneath the Path of Miseryâ€ follows, and captures the vocal excitement that The High End of Low‘s â€œI Wanna Kill You Like They Do in the Moviesâ€ desperately tried reaching for, and manages to do so in nearly half the time (which is a plus, unless you like jam bands, or someshit).
Born Villain stays relatively calm until track nine comes barreling along, audibly forcing itself to be my personal favorite. â€œDisengagedâ€ starts out sounding like a song you would reflexively skip without thinking. If you stick around long enough for the fraction-of-a-measure-late, heavy bass track to trip you up, though, you are a fly on the floor. The chorus â€œDIS, DIS, DIS, DISENGAGEDâ€ will crush you and you will be reminded exactly what you love about this man: that you have no previous Marilyn Manson material comparisons to make, except awesomeness.
â€œLay Down Your Goddamn Armsâ€ is slow tempo Metal, sounding much like Black Sabbath or Down, until it erupts into a Foo Fighters’ â€œMy Heroâ€-like chorus. Oddly enough, this technique works and blends together with great success. The blatant comparisons continue with â€œMurderers Are Getting Prettier Every Dayâ€, but hit closer to home this time and remind me of the energy of â€œ1996â€ (from Antichrist Superstar) or â€œAstonishing Panorama of Endtimesâ€ (from The Last Tour on Earth live album).
The rest of the songs on Born Villain â€“ that don’t have such a Hard Rock or Metal edge â€“ have their own adorable qualities that are worth mentioning. As the song lyrics describe, â€œSlow-Mo-Tionâ€ has â€œa real hitâ€. â€œThe Gardenerâ€ presents a great spoken word-style verse structure, amongst all of the poking guitar parts, and an engulfing pre-chorus towards the end of the song that will have you itching for more. â€œThe Flowers of Evilâ€ has a disturbing, slow-build tone, but a very generic guitar-strum chorus. What saves this one is the off-key second verse and song-ending screams, and displays Marilyn’s professional distribution of the destructive vocal structures that he has in his arsenal.
The bonus track, and cover of Carly Simon’s â€œYou’re So Vainâ€ just makes me scratch my big, dumb head. Johnny Depp is featured in this song, which only serves to confuse me more. Okay…so after Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails, and finder/label signer of Marilyn Manson) recorded â€œStarfuckers, Inc.â€ (which accused Manson of being a starfucker), the duo made up and filmed the later-released video for the song. â€œStarfuckers, Inc.â€ included a phrase from the Simon song, â€œYou’re so vain, I bet you think this song is about youâ€. What does Johnny Depp have to do with this, and why would Manson cover such a tame song in such a lame way? Marilyn has such an amazing back-catalog of cover songs that, coupled with this present confusion, this song just doesn’t work.
Born Villain won’t waste time trying to flip-flop the long-gone Manson ‘fan’ over for another go-round, but it will more than intrigue fans that have been sticking around and reminiscing the days of grandeur of Marilyn Manson. This album is strong, through and through, and has no songs that you will want to skip if you give it an honest listen. Personally, I’m reinvigorated by this release, and hope that this first non-Interscope Records attempt at creative freedom is the first in a long line of Manson’s extremities.
1. Hey, Cruel World
2. No Reflection
3. Pistol Whipped
4. Overneath the Path of Misery
6. The Gardener
7. The Flowers of Evil
8. Children of Cain
10. Lay Down Your Goddamn Arms
11. Murderers Are Getting Prettier Every Day
12. Born Villain
13. Breaking the Same Old Ground
14. You’re So Vain (feat. Johnny Depp)