Marilyn Manson has been on a creative upswing of late. Given the opportunity to continue to show that turn of speed alongside Shooter Jennings, the antichrist superstar has delivered one of his most astute albums in a long time. Far from what the title may suggest, this album is well-ordered, crafted and cultivated by one of the music industries most imposing figures.
Having routinely spoken of the album as an expansion of his sound and the integration of new ideas, namely the glam rock influence he and Jennings both adore, the new record could have been a stumbling block to these assertions. The comparisons to David Bowie, a man heavily cited as part of the aforementioned influence, will continue to grow a following as MM proves that he’s a mercurial figure at the very least.
This album is an explorative one. It sees Manson perhaps hitting his creative peak—unafraid and unabashed in his choices of inspiration or even signing up Jennings, the predominantly country-targeted guitarist—Manson is showing why he has lasted so long in the music business. Simply put, aside from a few podgy ’00s releases, Manson never really stops moving.
It means when the first taste of the new album arrived it was a remarkably different sound to Manson’s previous efforts. He was calmer, more assured and frankly, more well-rounded. It hinted that the new album was going to be something very different indeed. While there are Hallmark Manson moments, including some seriously cutting lyrics and the sense of griminess that gleefully comes with every release, this is a musician who is filling out their space.
Some highlights from We Are Chaos include the previously mentioned title track as well as ‘Don’t Chase The Dead’ which lands with a metronomic beat and a synthy backbone while ‘Half-Way One Step Forward’ sees Manson go as close to glam as possible over a piano. ‘Infinite Darkness’ and ‘Perfume’ are also marks of commendation on the album.
All in all, there’s not a lot to dislike in this album. Manson is proving time and time again that he is far beyond the realms of shock rock and even being the Antichrist Superstar at all. Nowadays, it would appear, Marilyn Manson is a consummate musician, concerned with little else than delivering his vision.
Judging by We Are Chaos, that vision will be well beyond 2020.