ALBUM REVIEW: Marilyn Manson – ‘We Are Chaos’

Words by Shannon-Lee Sloane – The Colourful Writer

With the recent release of the king of shock rock, Marilyn Manson’s eleventh studio album – ‘We Are Chaos’, there has been a divided response from fans and media alike. Across my social media over the last week since its release last Friday (11/09/2020), I have seen positive and enthusiastic comments such as ‘New Marilyn Manson slaps!’ and on the other side of things, some not so enthusiastic responses. As with any band or musician who has been releasing music for many moons, people will compare earlier work to the most recent. But, something that should always be kept in mind is that time changes, people change and music changes. It progresses; it’s an art form, so of course it reflects the artists moods, feelings, vibes and life experiences. Whilst ‘We Are Chaos’ is certainly different from Manson’s earlier days, there is most definitely that classic, well loved and well known Marilyn Manson sound throughout the ten beautifully mastered tracks. 

One of my first ever live gig/festival reviews was for a local, limited print music news mag called Nuwave where I got to review Big Day Out 1999 on the Gold Coast. A stellar line up that featured Hole, Korn, Fatboy Slim and Marilyn Manson among many other quality bands and acts. I will never forget waiting eagerly for Manson to hit the stage. After a long day in the sun, ears ringing from standing as close to the front of the stage as possible for all the bands I had already seen that day, I stood in complete and utter awe of the band on stage. Marilyn Manson took to the stage sporting a tight black full body outfit with feathers around his neck and later changed into a red sequined number with knee high boots. His outfits were as stunning as his performance. I was already a fan, but this cemented my love for him entirely. 

Fast forward to 2020 and I eagerly awaited the release of his new album. For me, ‘We Are Chaos’ has delivered yet another album to add to my top albums of 2020. Though, I do have a confession to make; the first single released, title track, We Are Chaos, released July 30 along with a visually haunting music video, initially took me a little by surprise. It’s not that I didn’t like it, it was just… perhaps…not what I expected? But then, what should I have expected? I got an immediate David Bowie vibe, which is never a bad thing and in fact, strangely, a few of the albums I have reviewed recently, across various genres, have had a Bowie sound to them. Proving that Bowie’s influence has spread over the world and can easily apply or lend itself to any musical genre. But I digress. The We Are Chaos single took a few listens to grow on me, though I certainly appreciate the Bowie vibe, being a huge fan of his work. 

The album commences with Red Black and Blue. An eerie beat sits behind a spoken word from Manson, echoed by a whisper repeating his words. “All I can see are gods on the left and demons on the right…” as the drum beat commences and the song really begins. This song is classic Marilyn Manson and has me hooked from the get go. We Are Chaos is up next. “We are sick, fucked up and complicated. We are chaos, we can’t be cured…” A dark view on the human race? 

Don’t Chase The Dead is a highlight from the album for me. The depth of the track in both the music and the lyrics grabs me here. The fact that Manson, many moons ago, was working his way towards a degree in music journalism speaks to me through his lyric writing. Clearly his way with words has always been a thing, in different forms, whether it be through articles or lyrics. His raspy, sexy, dark vocals on this track backed by the heartbeat like drums give this track everything I want from a Marilyn Manson song. 

Paint You With My Love starts off slow, this track feels fresh, new, separate from any previous Marilyn Manson songs. There’s an echoing emptiness in this song, it’s lighter somehow. This song floats. Half-Way and One Step Forward gives me a definite Depeche Mode vibe from the very first note. This song is art. 

Infinite Darkness kicks off, reminding me of earlier tracks from the band; it’s dark. I flashback to my teens and sitting in my bedroom with ‘Antichrist Superstar’ blaring through my shitty cheap CD player, tuning out to the world that I thought back then was so hard, heh, if only I had known what the future would bring. What a year 2020 has been! Thankfully, new music, like Marilyn Manson’s new album has kept many of us afloat, with something to hold onto. Just like their music did for me back in my youth. 

Perfume rolls in next with a glam rock vibe and all I can imagine is Manson strutting around on stage like he did back in ‘99 at the BDO. This song has sass, which for me, is something I associate with Marilyn Manson entirely. It drips from his soul. 

Keep My Head Together gives me an early PJ Harvey dark vibe, think Perfect Day Elise. There is a beauty to it and a sadness/darkness all at once. Lyrics again here resonate with me:

“Do we get what we deserve?
Or do we deserve what we get?
Steal from the last, fuck the past
Here is your present
Let’s take the future
Don’t try changin’ someone else
You’ll just end up changin’ yourself
I keep my head together
Better keep your head together
You hand me a shovel and expect me
To dig my own grave…”

Solve Coagula is another stand out track for me. “I’m not special. I’m just broken. And I don’t wanna be fixed…” there is something familiar and comforting about this song, and I can’t quite put my finger on what that is. But it sits delicately with me, as the album nearly comes to an end. Broken Needle sees the end. The guitars and keys really stand out on this track, I find myself focused on them almost entirely. And then on second listen, all I can do is hear the words. Manson’s words again sitting with me and resonating on a level just as they did when I was a fresh faced, angst filled teen, in awe of this person’s individuality and fierce courage that came across in his music, his performances and his sense of style and fashion. 

“So close your eyes
It’s only a dream
When you wake up
Rinse off all this pain
And your makeup
Stare into the mirror
Apples are always something to fear
Are you alright?
‘Cause I’m not okay
All of these lies
Are not worth fighting for…”

Time goes on, the world changes and our music changes with it. ‘We Are Chaos’ delivers a familiar sound mixed with something new and that gives this album both a sense of nostalgia and a fresh new vibe too, which really, seems quite perfect to me.

‘We Are Chaos’ is out now via Loma Vista Recordings – Tune in + Purchase HERE

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With thanks to Loma Vista Recordings + Dallas Does PR

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