Published Sep 09, 2020It's hard for an artist like Marilyn Manson to not been considered a has-been. The Antichrist Superstar made his name in the '90s as a shock icon, terrorizing parents and threatening their authority over the corruptible youth of America. But reputations like this seldom last, and eventually the novelty of Manson's controversial status wore off, leaving one question—does he have the staying power to remain relevant based on his music alone?
The past couple of decades have brought many ups and downs for Manson. Today, his days of dismantling civilization as we know it may be a thing of the past, but he's doing much better than he was 10 years ago, and he has a steady collection of recent albums to prove it.
We Are Chaos is a logical and welcome next step for Manson. The record doesn't wholly rehash any of his past work, but isn't too much of a departure to sit nicely within his catalogue. Still, the album feels reminiscent of 1998's Mechanical Animals, in a similar way to which 2017's Heaven Upside Down felt to 1996's Antichrist Superstar. Opener "Red, Black and Blue" conjures up echoes of "Great Big White World," and the title track contains hints of "Coma White."
We Are Chaos is made up of equal parts ethereal, cacophonous and melancholy. Electronic-infused stomps and southern rock ballads may not sound on paper like they would fit well together, but the album manages to flow well, sacrificing only a little bit of cohesiveness to incorporate its variety of styles.
While it isn't without its duller moments, like the slow refuge of "Half-Way & One Step Forward" and the unfortunately underwhelming "Solve Coagula," the record's highlights are arguably some of the strongest songs in the second half of Manson's discography. "Don't Chase the Dead" and "Perfume" are two of the most energetic songs Manson has released in years, and "Paint You with My Love" drips with raw emotion from start to finish.
While he may not be the pop culture figure he once was, Marilyn Manson is still capable of churning out some of modern rock music's finest work. It's probably safe to say there will never be another Marilyn Manson album quite up to the level of his work in the mid-to-late '90s, but he's succeeded in growing past his social pariah image, something not many other artists could do. (Loma Vista)