Album Review: Marilyn Manson – Born Villain
Marilyn Manson’s 8th studio album, Born Villain, boasts over an hour of new music. The veteran shock-rocker has returned after three years with an eclectic mix of heavy, progressive, and in-your-face lyrical poetry. Born Villain is long (14 tracks) which includes a good cover of You’re So Vain originally recorded by Carly Simon in 1972. The variety of style used this time around explores Manson’s musical capacity to still create something new and different. Lyrically, Born Villain is Marilyn Manson continuing to push buttons and cross boundaries. Musically, the album is much more diverse than what I am used to. That might be a good or bad thing depending on where you stand concerning all things Marilyn Manson. When it comes to Manson, there are two well-defined sides of the love/hate fence. For me, I walk the fine line in the middle.
The album starts off with Hey, Cruel World which is not nearly as angry sounding as say, The Beautiful People – to use that as a baseline. Like most of you, my Manson foundation is Antichrist Superstar – my first exposure. I like that (more) heavy stuff; just my personal opinion. To kick the album off, a nice brutal song would have been great. Though, in-your-face lyrically, it’s more of a medium tempo metal song; average and a little hard-hitting. It is, however, one of the more heavy songs on the album. No Reflection is more groove-oriented than anything; nothing new for Manson. Of course, this is the one they made a video for because it will probably be more accessible to a wider audience and may even attract new fans that aren’t used to the more abrasive style from the early 90s. No Reflection is one of the most “pop” sounding songs on the album. As you can see from the video (below), Manson looks more like himself than his persona. Born Villain, in my opinion, is an example of Manson not being as interested in shocking people as he used to be. You can only shock for so long before it becomes the expectation – then it’s not so shocking.
If you are the type of Manson fan that is hanging on to the glory of Antichrist Superstar, you are probably going to be disappointed again. I have continued to listen to Manson since the early 90s when he really did shock people and was quite abrasive musically. I think he is continuously trying to explore himself; therefore we will probably never get an Antichrist…part II. I think the thought of just being heavy and shocking has gotten old to Mr. Warner. This album is more or less a rock album with elements of a harder edge here and there (Murderers Are Getting Prettier…), but mostly groove-oriented and even some prog-infused rock (The Gardner, Pistol-Whipped, and Lay Down Your Goddamn Arms). Fans of the early days will probably scoff at Born Villain. I hate to put it this way, but those with an open mind will probably find something they like about this album.
One thing is for sure, you are not going to hear the same chords and rhythms repeated over and over. Despite how you feel about Marilyn Manson, Born Villain showcases his ability to incorporate many influences into his own style. From the heavy, industrial, synthesized, groovy, to proggy, Born Villain is an eclectic album. To the best of my Manson experience; Born Villain falls somewhere between Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals. It’s not as heavy as the first, nor as emotional and moody as the latter. It’s somewhere in between in tempo and attitude.
Overall, I appreciate this album more than the last two releases. Manson explores more musical avenues. But, is it good? I think so! I don’t think it’s great, but there is definitely nothing bad about it. I do miss the older style; I’m not going to lie to you, but I know better than to hang on to some kind of hope that Manson will repeat himself. It’s just not his style; that would be too boring. Whether or not you purchase another Marilyn Manson album is entirely up to you. This is one of those artists people love to hate and hate to love.