Marilyn Manson | Eat Me, Drink Me (Nothing)

cd_mansonWhen all is said and done, this will inevitably be seen as the "I didn't know what else to do" album: that point when a musical artist is backed into a corner, most of the band has drifted away, and middle age begins to interrupt the fabled rock 'n' roll lifestyle. But this will also be remembered as one of Marilyn Manson's best albums, maybe even the best.

 

 

 

During the title track of his album Antichrist Superstar, Marilyn Manson makes an allusion to the mythic Greek beast the Hydra: "Cut the head off/ grows back hard" he screams. Such imagery works as a suitable metaphor for Manson's career. Throughout his time in the spotlight, he has faced numerous protestors, detractors, and disillusioned fans, been blamed for the Columbine massacre, seen a host of drug/alcohol problems and failed relationships with Hollywood starlets, and has recently confronted the much-dreaded demon of artistic irrelevance. Yet, inexplicably, Marilyn Manson has remained, like a cockroach who refuses to be exterminated.

Thankfully, new album Eat Me, Drink Me erases any concerns that Manson's musical output has run its course. The album serves as a collaboration between Manson and producer/guitarist/bassist Tim Skold, who has been a driving force of the band's musical direction for the last several years. Regular band members Ginger Fish and M.W. Gacy are nowhere to be heard on the album, indicating the lineup of the group is no longer fixed. The songs are all fairly simple, Manson's crackly voice showcased over basic drum and guitar arrangements, highlighted by Skold's occasional guitar solos. The new approach allows Manson's voice to function as an instrument; his vocals drive the music, not just emotionally but sonically. His trademark shrieking and screaming are nowhere to be heard on this album. Manson actually sings, in a voice that wouldn't sound out of place in some kind of mutant cabaret from hell. Many of the lyrics draw upon the much-publicized collapse of Manson's marriage to burlesque model Dita von Teese, as well as his new relationship with 19-year-old actress Evan Rachel Wood.

Opening track "If I Was Your Vampire" finds Manson in full Bauhaus mode, featuring lyrics which discuss such cheerful topics as driving a car over a cliff and eating your loved one's ashes while you burn (good to see Manson has left behind that goth image he has always so fervently denied). Other highlights include the seductive and creepy "You and Me and the Devil Makes 3," boppy new single "Heart-Shaped Glasses," "Putting Holes in Happiness," one of the best songs Manson has penned to date, and "Just a Car Crash Away," where Manson's strained vocals add a vulnerability which he has rarely displayed. Manson's sense of humor is often either ignored or entirely overlooked, but it remains present here, in song titles and lyrics such as "Mutilation Is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery," "the hole is where the heart is," "rebels without applause," and the instant classic "I've got mood poisoning/ you must be something that I hate."

Admittedly, it is difficult to ignore the midlife-crisis nature of this particular record. (One wonders if the original title was Okay, so She's Nineteen). When all is said and done, this will inevitably be seen as the "I didn't know what else to do" album: that point when a musical artist is backed into a corner, most of the band has drifted away, and middle age begins to interrupt the fabled rock 'n' roll lifestyle. But this will also be remembered as one of Marilyn Manson's best albums, maybe even the best. If nothing else, Eat Me, Drink Me serves as a reminder that the stake has not been fully driven into Manson's career. Never underestimate the Antichrist. | Charles Evans

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