Marilyn Manson The Golden Age of Grotesque
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Whether you love him or hate him, you'd be a fool not to realize that Marilyn Manson has the ability to market himself well. Throw in the ability to continue to create new music that manages to remain fresh while still pushing the envelope when it comes to disturbing and potentially offensive lyrics and you have an artist that can always create an uproar at the drop of a hat.

This time around, the music is heartily influenced on more popular rock and pop themes while managing to retain the harsh, almost reviled sense of heavy rock that Manson continues to create. Stylistically, you gain a sense that Manson is trying to recapture a sense of 1930's era Berlin, with shots at Nazism, Dadaism and even Swing music (which is especially sent up in Doll-Dagga Buzz Buzz Ziggety-Zagg). Many of the songs are actually catchy and you might find yourself humming a few of the choruses when you're least thinking about it. The Golden Age of Grotesque feels more at home with Alice Cooper and David Bowie than it does in the current lineup of nu-metal and rap rockers of today.

With Tim Skold replacing Twiggy Ramirez both on bass and creatively in the music-writing, Grotesque benefits from a well-needed injection of fresh blood to keep the album from feeling like a repeat of Holywood. Since Holywood was described by Manson as the end of a musical trilogy, it makes sense that Grotesque would move in a new direction. While there are still some techno/industrial influences still hanging about, a good bit of the album has a healthy groove to it. Tracks like mOBSCENE and Ka-boom kA-boom throw enough catchy rock style into the mix to balance out the creepier, more ambient tracks like the title track. Use Your Fist And Not Your Mouth is a nice standout track that merges heavy techno rock to push the antisocial theme, reminiscent to older Pitchshifter. Throw in some moodier pieces, like Spade and Obsequey (The Death of Art) and you have a well balanced album the keeps rolling towards the end.

Maybe the biggest drawback to the album is that it feels a bit straightforward. Unlike Antichrist Superstar, Grotesque doesn't impress by twisting the music into excesses. A number of the songs are pretty cut and dry in delivery and really don't push the excesses that Manson has built upon his image. Even the lyrics tend to be a little more sublime, spending more time focused on sex and antisocial behavior rather than spitting in the face of religion (but maybe we should thank Manson for not over-abusing the cliché once more).

If you're a fan of Manson, you should pick this one up as it continues to explore new musical strains while keeping the dark and diseased mentality of an individual whose part self-promotion and part self-destruction. For those uninitiated but willing to look past the antisocial image that the artist has painted of himself, Grotesque is still an fine album that can ease non-fans into Manson's disturbing carnival that represents his vision of the world at large. Not as warped as Antichrist Superstar or as offbeat retro as Mechanical Animals, Grotesque still works at giving you more of what you wanted.

- - Vane

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