I’ve come to the conclusion that I have a thing for aging metal musicians. Not so much a physical thing (although Trent Reznor in all his current bearded beefcake-ness certainly does good for the world) but more my appreciation for the music they are choosing to release. And it’s Marilyn Manson’s newest album The Pale Emperor that has led me to this conclusion. Something about these ten songs shows a relaxed satisfaction on Manson’s behalf, like he’s looked back at his career and accomplishments and decided to do it all again, but this time he’ll do it while having 3 well-balanced meals and getting to bed by 10.

The album starts off just right, with a deep grimy bass riff dredging alongside Manson’s swagger laden vocals as he belts “we’re killing strangers so we don’t kill the ones that we love”. ‘Killing Strangers’ is like a spaghetti western introduction from an seasoned rockstar who has stopped giving a fuck about what you think. It leads into a set of songs that quite frankly took me off guard because sonically they were more subdued than expected. ‘The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles’ (check that, that’s a soul collecting demon of German folklore and not the black and white magic cat from Cats) is dark, eery but still quite amiable. ‘The Devil Beneath My Feet’ is a damn funky glam rock romp that sticks a middle finger to the guy in the clouds. This is an album that still shows its aggression, but does it with a prod in the ribcage rather than a punch in the face.

There’s something oddly optimistic about the album, even with the standard macabre Manson themes being explored. The self-deprecatory and pessimistic tone of previous albums seems diminished on The Pale Emperor and the whole record is that little bit funkier, little bit more bluesy than I would expect. And if some of the songs come off a little corny, a little poppy, who cares because dammit Manson is in his 40s and we’ve all got to learn to accept that.

8/10

Dee Dee Magee

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