Marilyn Manson

The Golden Age of Grotesque (Interscope)

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Marilyn Manson's appetite for destruction needs sustenance. After 10 years of singing fight songs in fishnets, Manson has been advocating the end of everything for so long that he's in danger of negating even himself. The shock-rocker's last disc, 2000's half-baked Holy Wood, was dismissed by critics and passed over by fans. Now Manson faces the one thing he fears most: indifference.

But don't expect the man to fade into the ether quietly. "This isn't music/ We're not a band/ We're five middle fingers on a motherfucking hand," he bellows on "Vodevil," the fierce final salvo on The Golden Age of Grotesque. Other highlights: "Doll-Dagga Buzz-Buzz Ziggety-Zag" is a Ziggy Angeldust mash-up perfect for gothic goose-stepping, "Ka-Boom Ka-Boom" is a rhythmic slow grind made for lascivious lovemaking, and "mOBSCENE" is a tawdry fist-pumper with a chorus of corrupt cheerleaders.

Of course, Manson has never put out a great record, so calling Grotesque a return to form isn't to say it's devoid of missteps. Self-righteous and occasionally stultifying, he still lets loose with a deluge of satanic self-aggrandizement ("I'm not an artist/I'm a fuckin' work of art") and same-sounding temper tantrums. He may be the only atheist ever to have a Christ complex, but he still knows how to serve up a satisfying helping of hate.

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