Aside from Mr. Manson, the entire band was different on the current release than that one. Twiggy Ramirez, who was a member of the band when "Portrait of an American Family" was released, but not when it was recorded is playing guitar on this album, apart from that, he had also spent time away from the band. On a side note, I always think back to Metallica's "Some Kind of Monster" documentary when we was auditioning for the spot that Jason Newsted had recently abdicated and I really liked the way he sounded playing "For Whom the Bell Tolls," but I digress. It is rather strange seeing that the majority of the line up on this album doesn't have the sex symbol/serial killer stage name. I suppose now, what was once a band, is truly a solo singer and his back up band...
Marilyn has not grown or changed as a vocalist since 1994. Not one iota...but that's ok. What he has really learned to do is use his limitations as a vocalist to create some wonderfully creepy vocal stylings, that, though they are computer assisted, do not sound computer created like on previous releases. Though he's no better, his usage of his limited talents has gotten better and he sounds much better.
His lyrics have really matured. Instead of just stating I hate Jesus and those who follow him are expletive deleted..etc...etc....There's a much greater subtlety that exists now that has always been much needed and adds to the believability of the songs. Not only that, but he has a bit more witticism to what he's saying and it's just a vast improvement over his previous efforts.
Twiggy Ramirez plays guitar on this album. That was something I was concerned about and that concern was warranted. The guitar work was largely uninspired and lacking. Lots of strumming on power chords. Mostly, what's being passed off as rhythm work is just droning chords with no interplay of any kind. Though there were some moments and one blistering guitar solo towards the end of the record, but all in all he needs to go back to playing the bass and let someone else handle the guitar work. Instead of it feeling monolithic, like I'd have preferred and I expected it to do be based on pre-release interviews, it was easily tuned out and largely a non-factor in most songs.
The use of ambient sound on this record was phenomenal and gave it a wonderfully creepy and sometimes uncomfortable vibe that really connected the songs to the listener. This is a great departure from the old samples he/they used to use.
As I thought on my first listen of a couple tracks, the songs are pretty good, and in some cases instant Manson classics (Slo-mo-tion comes to mind), but this is not an album that will get much play in my car. (Where I still listen to my physical CDs.)
I'd say that this album is above average, but it feels very unfinished due to the lack of guitar playing. Certainly not their best record, but not their worst either. I still cannot wait to see him/them in concert with Rob Zombie this October 5th a Verizon Wireless Ampitheater, formerly Riverport Ampitheater.
1) Hey, Cruel World…
2) No Reflection
4) Overneath the Path of Misery |
6) The Gardner
7) The Flowers of Evil
8) Children of Cain
10) Lay Down Your Goddamn Arms
11) Murderers Are Getting Prettier Every Day
12) Born Villain
13) Breaking the Same Old Ground
Bonus track: You're So Vain