It's ironic that shock rocker Marilyn Manson's career didn't crash and burn due to waning interest and a lack of ability to shock people anymore. Sure, both of those things have happened to Manson, but how quickly we all forget that those first several albums had some real musical meat on their bones as well. No, it wasn't anything outside that killed off Manson. It's was Manson himself, as he decided that he was his character and the world would be interested in his relationship struggles as converted and perverted into the soundscape he records with. To say the least, it was a monumental flop. Both of his last two droning tales of relationship woes, EAT ME, DRINK ME and THE HIGH END OF THE LOW. Sure, both had their moments of patented Manson Violence, but both were ruined by morbid tales of relationship failures and the deviant thoughts he was having as relationships ended. Simply put, those albums were not very good at all.
BORN VILLAIN is really a pivotal album for Manson. Another dreary and self-loathing album and he'll probably end up headlining some "special small hall shows". Even Manson himself must have seen this. While certainly not the best work of his career, BORN VILLAIN is a huge step back in the right direction. For Manson, BORN VILLAIN is to his career what DEATH MAGNETIC was to Metallica. The album is not quite the over the top violent opus you used to get with ANTICHRIST SUPERSTAR or "This Is The New Shit", but it's pretty close. It's clear that Twiggy Ramirez returning to the fold and working with Manson again rekindled a lot of the old spark. Songs like "Overneath The Path Of Misery" have the punk, industrialized vibe that Manson really has showcased much since PORTRAIT OF AN AMERICAN FAMILY came out, and it's a welcome listen. On other songs, like first single "No Reflection" and "Hey, Cruel World", there's moments of frenetic energy that were all but lost from the last two albums. Other songs, like "Slo-Mo-Tion" come off as a less glammed up song from the MECHANICAL ANIMALS era of the band.
As you may have noticed, there's a lot of references here to other Manson material here. That could very well be purposeful by Manson, Ramirez and producer Chris Vrenna. With this album being so important for the band to reconnect with the fans, it's a safe assumption that they tried hard to recapture what made Manson a standout performer to so many in the first place. The problem is that a lot of this material, while solid, feels like you've heard it before and doesn't have a lot of hold on your psyche like the old material used to. That said, he does go into some very bizarre places that haven't been touched on before. Songs like "The Gardener" featurea very creepy spoken word interlude that seems to be a melded description of serial killing and gardening as a morbid art. The song breaks into a more traditional yelling chorus from Manson, but that spoken word portion of the song is really...well...disturbing.
PITRIFF RATING - 81/100 - A solid effort from Marilyn Manson; welcome after several years of uninteresting efforts about his love life. It's not likely you'll ever hear Slayer's Tom Araya singing songs about a fight he had with his wife Sandra, and its definitely hopeful that Manson will learn from his mistakes and follow the lead of his longtime touring partner in avoiding this on future efforts. BORN VILLAIN is the best album Marilyn Manson has done in a lot of years. It's about time.