Having years ago exhausted his ability to shock, Marilyn Manson must now search for new ways to terrify the masses. This dilemma -- brilliantly parodied by The Onion, which sent Manson door-to-door, trying to frighten unimpressed suburbanites -- has already depleted Manson's minor contributions to music's cutting edge. In fact, the Antichrist Superstar's most interesting move of late was an articulate cinematic turn in Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine. Manson's fifth full-length effort, The Golden Age of Grotesque (his first following the departure of longtime bassist and co-writer Twiggy Ramirez), doesn't offer anything especially new, though he has certainly mastered his craft.
There are really only two types of Manson songs, both of which are well-represented on Grotesque: First are the uppity, electrometal fuck-you stompers, including the onomatopoeic "Doll-Dagga Buzz-Buzz Ziggety-Zag." The standout "Use Your Fist and Not Your Mouth" adds a clever hip-hop hook to the chorus and fuses metal, rap, and industrial.
Second are the syrup-paced, creepy-crawly, industrial-weirdo tunes, including "Para-Noir" and the title track. Lyrically, Manson sticks to his usual subjects: resistance to authority, drugs, persecution, sex, and violence. Grotesque is hardly revolutionary, but it sounds great and rocks hard. The album debuted at No. 1 in the United States and several European countries, proving that Manson's dope show still has a willing audience.
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