This time around Marilyn Manson is reunited with former collaborator Twiggy Ramirez (and has Chris Vrenna in the producer’s chair), which brings a return to form. Of sorts.
With one foot in the glam rock that made “Mechanical Animals” a hit and with one hand in the industrial cookie jar that has fueled most of his career, “The High End of the Low” shows Marilyn Manson taking the step into his middle age as an artist. Much like Alice Cooper has done, putting out albums that are reminiscent of former glories but not quite capturing them again.
The mention of Alice Cooper is not coincidence, by the way. Twiggy and Manson have obviously overdosed on the glam of the 70:s – read: Marc Bolan – while making this album. How else explain the abundance of melodic guitars and a couple of straight from the gut hard rock ballads, like strangely appealing “Running to the Edge of the World”. In other places “The High End of the Low” sounds more industrial, as in the "Closer"-like beat in “WOW”, for example, and in return-to-form single “Arma-Godd*n-Motherf**ng-Geddon”. And let’s not forget “We Are America”, where the political (at least wannabe) satirist Manson spews hatred over his nation.
A little bit of melody, a little bit of stomp and pomp – sound familiar? Well, it should. This is a look back at the entire career of Manson, with a few new tricks – such as the country twang guitar in “Four Rusted Horses” – thrown in for good measure. Nothing revolutionary, nothing chocking – and that is bad news in Manson-land. But – as with most good albums made by artists past their prime, while still trying hard – “The High End of the Low” has enough good songs to keep old fans satisfied.
But I would be hugely surprised if Manson managed to get, and keep, any new fans. At least with this album.
We’ll see who is in his near vicinity when he makes his next record. Maybe, and I’m just saying, knowing it will never happen, maybe he should try to hook up with Trent Reznor again. Just a thought.