"Born Villain" (Cooking Vinyl and Hell, etc.; 2012)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Marilyn Manson is back with yet another disc, his eighth, entitled "Born Villain" which he released on his own label. Most of the time you can tell what a Manson record is going to sound like but that would be "pretentious" and he doesn't like that word. Ever since "Mechanical Animals" was released my musical compass started pointing toward Marilyn Manson. His departure from industrial hardcore rock into his experimental phase caused many to become fans (or closet fans) due to his risk taking. He has continued to tweak his music ever so slightly that you won't be able to anticipate his sound and most fans are hardly disappointed when they hear his latest offering. "Born Villain" experiments with levels of bass, spoken word and Manson's ever-changing vocal style. From Ziggy Stardust to twin vocals, Manson never ceases to mix it up.

"Born Villain" has fourteen tracks to ingest, some of them start slow with a spoken word or creepy intro and most go into a groovy driving sound, but not all do. Manson talks over a lot of the tracks and it seems like he's opening up more with a spoken word instead of a haunting lyric. If you're looking for hit singles then it's time to remember who Manson is: he's a shocker, not a "rocker." His shtick, which has become his persona, is about pushing the envelope beyond the norm and into the abnormal.

The music is good in parts but it's not attention getting enough. You might find yourself zoning out when a song goes in a different direction, I know I did. I'm not looking for Part II of any Manson disc (the ones that buzzed along) but it's hard to keep your attention when the music goes in and out. You know his vocal styling and it's usually not the main instrument because in the past it shared the same dark cell as the guitar and drums, but this time (and it may be because he started his own label for artistic reasons) it’s the main focus of every song. The last track, a cover of Carly Simon's hit "You're So Vain," has Manson teaming vocals with Johnny Depp. Sadly, that's about the extent of "weird" on "Born Villain."

The band: Marilyn Manson – vocals, lyrics, guitars, Twiggy – guitars, bass guitar, keyboards, Chris Vrenna – keyboards, synthesizers, percussion, Fred Sablan – bass guitar, guitars, Jason Sutter – live drums on the tour for "Born Villain" and drums.

For more information

"The Golden Age of Grotesque" (Nothing/Interscope; 2003)

Reviewed by Dominic Pierce Toogood

Marilyn Manson has finally come of age. Pure, hardcore, industrial rock that has now become a tried and true formula is offered up on this latest release. More songs ... no, anthems ... of sex, ("Slutgarden"), violence, ("Use Your Fist Not Your Mouth"), disillusionment, ("(s)AINT"), and a combination of all three reign supreme here from the master of this genre.

As always, Herr Doktor (as the former Mr. Warner refers to himself here) continues to pull from various interesting influences, including even Oscar Wilde who gets an honorable mention. However, the jewel in this festering crown of scabs is the awesome title track which sounds like (and I expect is meant to) a pumped-up vaudeville song straight out of a post-1939 Munich cabaret club. But it works perfectly.

Perhaps the only criticism here is Manson's heavy leaning toward his breakout album, "Antichrist Superstar." "Doll-Dagga Buzz-Buzz Ziggety-Zagg" sounds distinctly like "The Beautiful People" while "This is The New Shit" sounds very much like "Kinderfeld" on amphetamines. But the spooky kids won't be too disappointed.

When Manson steps out of character, his originality - even in the breathtaking artwork - is awe-inspiring. Too often, the same recipe for (commercially successful) disaster is relied upon. Of course, it's still the recipe he himself concocted, so why the fuck shouldn't he use it?! 

"The Golden Age of Grotesque" is one mixture Herr Doktor certainly ordered.

Performing on "The Golden Age of Grotesque" are: Marilyn Manson; M.W. Gacy; Tim Skold; John5. Ginger Fish. 

For more information, check out

"Holy Wood (In the Valley of the Shadow of Death)" (Nothing/Interscope; 2000)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Of course, I've long been aware of Marilyn Manson and the band's bizarre persona. I'd only heard some of their music, however, but never an entire release. So, when I picked up this copy of the "Holy Wood," I wasn't sure what to expect - devil metal? Evil personified? Blood dripping from the cover? 

Well, no blood at least. What I did find was a pretty good rock'n'roll CD - not extraordinary - but solid none the less. "Holy Wood" is loud, raw, dark and twisted, just what you'd expect from this genre of rock'n'roll. The entire CD is strange and different (as is most of Manson's music) and most of the songs are excellent, but some of them are major snoresville, too. Like I said, a pretty good CD, but not a great one.

MARILYN MANSON is: Marilyn Manson, Ginger Fish, John 5, M.W. Gacy and Twiggy Ramirez. 

"The Last Tour On Earth" (Nothing/Interscope; 1999)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

This live recording, released in 1999, features Marilyn Manson on the "Mechanical Animals" tour and it's a surprisingly effective and thorough capture of the audio essence and style of a live Marilyn Manson performance. It's alternately eerie, bizarre and downright twisted, just the persona that Manson likes to portray. The problem here is that a live Marilyn Manson performance is as much a visual event as an aural one. As such, despite this CD's audio success, there's still something missing.

The song selection plays it pretty safe, favoring the bigger hits over the lesser-known tunes. "The Dope Show" is here, as is "The Beautiful People" and "Rock Is Dead" as well as the cover of the Eurythmics "Sweet Dreams." "The Beautiful People" sounds especially good live; rough and raw - just like it should be.

Despite what you might have been told, however, you'll survive if you don't add this CD to your collection, especially if you've already got other Manson stuff. "The Last Tour on Earth" might be an adequate document of the "Mechanical Animals" tour, but a video or DVD would probably play better. Still, if you're new to Marilyn Manson, this isn't a bad place to start - you get a little taste of every Manson era in the 70 minutes contained herein and it'll give you an idea if you might be interested in further Manson releases or not.

MARILYN MANSON: Marilyn Manson - vocals; Twiggy Ramirez - bass; M.W. Gacy - keyboards and synthesizers; Ginger Fish - drums; John5 - guitar.

For more information, check out

manson.jpg (6441 bytes)"Mechanical Animals" (Nothing/Interscope; 1998)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

This can be said for Marilyn Manson: This is one band that is apparently unafraid of experimentation. Each album sounds just a little bit different than the last - sometimes a lot different than the last - and the music is always avant garde and daring. "Mechanical Animals" is just another example of that. A strange, cross-breeding of David Bowie, Pink Floyd, T-Rex and Alice Cooper, "Mechanical Animals" is an eccentric and eclectic collection of new songs designed not so much to shock (as with the band's last outing, "Anti-Christ Superstar) but to (gasp!) perhaps inspire thought.

"Mechanical Animals" begins with a Bowie-like number and then ventures into T-Rex/Alice Cooper territory with "The Dope Show" and the title track, and then into Pink Floyd territory (way into Pink Floyd territory) with "The Speed of Pain". The lyrics are still challenging - still controversial and sometimes still inflammatory, but they're nowhere near as "offensive" as with "Superstar."

Another interesting aspect of "Mechanical Animals" is the near impossibility to think of the album as anything but a single piece, one that cannot be separated into pieces of itself. It's not so much a collection of individual songs as it is a single, continuous work.  Remove one song (with the possible exception of the strangely out-of-place "Speed of Pain" and the album would seem incomplete.

Will Marilyn Manson fans like it? Probably. Most of them are fans of the band because the band takes chances. They'll probably rejoice in the fact that "Mechanical Animals" is a different kind of record than "Anti-Christ Superstar" and a hell of a different record than the godawful "Smells Like Children."

Will "Mechanical Animals" win the band any new fans? Probably not. There's nothing here that comes close to the hook-laden "Beautiful People" from "Superstar." Although "Animals" is a unique extension of Marilyn Manson, it's not so experimental as to draw additional attention - despite its so-called "controversial" cover.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

Back to CD Reviews Home

Back to Home

Copyright © 2012 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:59:46 -0400 .