When your name is Marilyn Manson – shock rocker extraordinaire and alleged menace to impressionable youth everywhere – just about the worst thing someone can say about you is that you’re humdrum. So the reviews for his and his band’s just-released eighth studio album, Born Villain, must be especially galling: neither nasty nor ecstatic, they’re just kind of... meh.
While there have been thumbs-up for the disc from notable publications like Billboard and England’s The Independent, most reviewers have found the album curiously flat which means we readers get none of the fabulously entertaining vitriol of, say, the widely panned Lou Reed/Metallica collaboration. Not that was a stinker worth reading about!
Instead, amid twee high-fives for the return of guitarist Twiggy Ramirez and acclamations for Manson’s references to Shakespeare (sigh), we get meek fence-sitting from reviewers who can’t seem to love or hate the album with anything approaching zeal. Worse, criticisms about the disc are cushioned with limp praise and backhanded compliments.
“Even while Born Villain is a return to form for the band, the album becomes tedious at right about the halfway mark. The songs are overly long and all rely on similar dynamics to propel their crunchy angst. Though sounding inspired and sonically rejuvenated in its best moments, as the album wears on one gets the sense of a band trying a little too hard to revisit its former glory.”
“Again, this all sounds good, right? Right. The truth is, though, there’s just a lack of magic, a lack of something special going on. It’s not bad. It’s not good. It’s just… Well, look, the thing is, for a guy whose whole raison d’etre is American Psycho-esque dark comedy/shock horror, getting shrugs and [a rating of] six out of 10 – defined at the start of this section as ‘better than average’ – is not really what it’s all about. It should be zeroes and tens. But musically, it just ain’t.”
“But he overstays his welcome by at least 10 minutes, and tracks like ‘Overneath the Path of Misery’ try just a little too hard to resurrect the magic of 1996's Antichrist Superstar. That's thanks to the return of guitarist Twiggy Ramirez and at times - like the menacing minimalism of ‘Pistol Whipped’ and the disturbing vocal hooks of ‘No Reflection’- Born Villain kicks and bites like the Manson of old.”
“I couldn't have been more disappointed with Marilyn Manson's newest release, as a devout fan from his previous work. Gone is the controversy that made him so famous in the first place, now he just attempts to use big words and crafty symbolism to hide the fact that he has completely run out of ideas. Not to mention the quality of his music has suffered drastically.”
I’d bet dollars to donuts that Manson would rather have someone come right out and proclaim the album as garbage (if they truly felt that) rather than pussyfoot around while making nice. If anyone can take a constructive (or even vengeful) criticism, it’s Manson. This apathy must be brutal.
And of course he can quote Shakespeare. Probably verbatim. Freaky is not synonymous with stupid... far from it. In fact, dudes don’t come much smarter than Manson. What do you think?