Provides a pointed satirical commentary on noughties America.
Chris Power 2009-05-18
Following 2007's lacklustre Eat Me, Drink Me, the uncommon introspection of which was prompted by his failed marriage to burlesque performer Dita Von Teese, Marilyn Manson seemed a spent force. While High End Of Low isn't nearly the equal of career highlights Mechanical Animals and Holy Wood, it nevertheless proves there's still a fair dose of blood and bile to pour from his carcass yet. More impressively, at its best it provides a pointed satirical commentary on noughties America.
This return to form of sorts is partly down to the return of bassist and co-songwriter Twiggy Ramirez, who parted company with Manson in 2002. It's his lolloping bassline that powers what would be High End Of Low's most clear-cut hit (if it wasn’t more full of swears than Gordon Ramsay's kitchen on a bad day). Even its title – Arma-Goddamn-F***ng-Geddon – doesn't escape. Redolent of Beautiful People, it isn't going to win Manson new admirers, but existing fans will be relieved to hear he can still kick out the jams.
More interesting and unusual fare lies elsewhere. Four Rusted Horses begins with a twanging bluesy acoustic guitar line, its back-porch foot-stomp beat and gathering storm clouds of electronic noise building towards a persecution-complex of a chorus - ''Everyone will come to my funeral/To make sure that I stay dead'' – that sounds like it's bleeding from Manson's throat before it can make it to his mouth.
Best of all is We're From America, where Manson fully lives up to his occasionally over-hyped reputation as an intelligently scabrous lyricist. Singing, ''God is an excuse'' with a Johnny Rotten-like atonal insistence above tom-toms playing a relentless, menacing glam-rock beat (Manson's love for Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie and T-Rex is shot through this album) he tosses off killer couplets like, ''We don’t like to kill our unborn/We need them to grow up and fight our wars''. Delivered with a gleeful sneer, the line is about as out of kilter with the age of Obama as you can get. But then the Bush-era wars are still being waged and, let's face it, cheerleading really isn't Manson’s shtick.