Marilyn Manson - The Golden Age of Grotesque
Nothing / Interscope Records
Neo-Vaudevillian Industrial Rock
15 songs (57:33)
Release year: 2003
Marilyn Manson
Reviewed by Jay

Marilyn Manson is loved by many hand hated by just as many. While people call him numerous names, it is hard to deny that his music is quality. This latest release is a departure from most of the music he has produced in the past. While it again is a concept album, the theme is less discernable than the previous albums. I was interested in hearing how he would follow up Holy Wood, which I personally consider to be his best effort. I also wanted to hear how Tim Skold would affect his sound. Skold has been a part of Shotgun Messiah and KMFDM among other bands. Interestingly enough, in my estimation, he has joined several bands just as they took a turn for the worst. This also marks his first album without longtime collaborator Twiggy Ramirez. While this album isn’t total trash, it’s really not a fitting follow up to Holy Wood.

The concept, as I mentioned before, is not as well defined as his previous albums. With this album there seems to be much influence taken from the music of burlesque shows from the early part of last century. Skold’s influence is readily apparent with the much-increased use of electronic sounds. Holy Wood did mark a return to Manson’s more rock roots while this album revisits Mechanical Animals’ extravagant use of synth. There is less live drumming on this album than almost any one before. The sound doesn’t seem to work well with the aforementioned new influences. Manson has always had a talent for writing lyrics and this album is no exception. My problem is how he uses them. He had these prophetic verses (which are still there) but succinct choruses with very meaningful lyrics. The choruses seem to be dragged out here and the profundity in the simplicity is lost.

When I first listened to “This is the New Shit,” I really didn’t know what to make of it. It sounded like Manson was copying Mindless Self Indulgence with a VNV Nation sensibility. I was really disappointed with the lyrics as well. The chorus sounds like many of the riffs on Filter’s Short Bus album. This was not what I expected from Manson and I was thinking that he let Skold hijack this album from him. Luckily, the rest of the album is much better than this song. “mOBSCENE” is the first single and the third track. It is much closer to classic Manson in the vein of “Fight Song.” The chorus has cheerleaders shouting “Be Obscene.” While I could do without a cheer in the middle of a rock song, I understand the point he was trying to make. You have to understand that Manson figures out a new way to sell himself and his image with each new album. The next song “Doll-Dagga Buzz-Buzz Ziggety-Zag” is another clunker. Trying to take a page from swing music, the well intentions take a turn somewhere. The drumming is quite good but the nonsense lyrics get annoying fast. This sounds much more like something KMFDM would have attempted around the XTORT era.

The title track attempts to be a metal variation on the burlesque music of old. Manson makes an attempt to sing in the vein of older styled singers but can’t quite pull it off. The piano accompaniment is well done but the booming bass gets old fast. The distortion on the music was well intentioned but the Manson charm of old is lacking. “Ka-Boom Ka-Boom” sounds more like the Manson of old. The drum machine could be done with live drumming because it sounds too dancy. It will probably be a goth club hit. “Para-noir” has a woman doing spoken word and is one of the more artistic songs. It tries to espouse the values of American women and succeeds quite well. I like the content of the song much better than the song itself. “Vodevil” tries to tie all the elements of the album together but doesn’t quite work. Manson needed to have a much stronger album closing song than this.

This album comes with a DVD that contains Manson’s film “Doppelherz” (Double Heart for the non-German inclined). It is around 25 minutes long and is probably the worst music video I have ever seen. Essentially, it is 25 minutes of stop-motion camera work of Manson and his band and two women who are tied up. The sound is the sample of the first track on the album (“Thaeter”) which is only slightly over a minute long. This sample is played ad nauseum for the whole video with Manson doing bad spoken word poetry over it. If you can find the album without the DVD for cheaper, you’re not missing a damn thing. Manson should have put more effort into this album and not given Tim Skold as much influence as he did. While Trent Reznor will probably never produce Manson again, Skold is not Reznor. This album had a shot but it took a wrong turn somewhere.

Killing Songs :
mOBSCENE, Vodevil, (s)AINT
Jay quoted 57 / 100
Other albums by Marilyn Manson that we have reviewed:
Marilyn Manson - Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) reviewed by Khelek and quoted 79 / 100
Marilyn Manson - The High End Of Low reviewed by Khelek and quoted 63 / 100
Marilyn Manson - Mechanical Animals reviewed by Khelek and quoted 89 / 100
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