(“Eat Me, Drink Me” by Marilyn Manson)
I’ve been saying for years that Marilyn Manson is under-rated (though a bit over-rated by his most ardent fans)–beneath, or along with, the theatrics and makeup, he’s actually a world-class satirist on a level with H.L. Mencken at his best. Manson’s complex stew of guns, god, government and celebrity is expressed with a razor-sharp lyrical palette of punning metaphors and tossed-off references to history and religion. I’ve found it a bit disappointing that he’s eagerly cultivated a fan base of Ozz-festing, beer-bonging, fake-tribal tatooing overgrown adolescents who use the word “fag” without referring to cigarettes. With Eat Me, Drink Me, Manson seems to have abandoned many of his best attitudes and ideas in favor of rote, mid-tempo goth/glam rockers that obsess over the former Antichrist Superstar’s lousy love life.
Imagine, if you will, sitting on a bar stool next to an absinthe-swilling vampire endlesssly talking about how, for him, love is death, which caused him to seperate from his ultra-hot burlesque star of a trophy wife in favor of a just as hot but younger actress. Could you possibly feel sorry for this guy? Granted, Manson probably doesn’t care if you feel sorry for him–he just enjoys saying woe-is-me in the most florid language he can muster: “It started so tragic as a slaughterhouse/She pressed the knife against your heart/And said ‘I love you’ so much you must kill me now…” (from “If I Was Your Vampire”). Or how about “She blew me her death-kiss/and the mouth-marks/Bled down my eye,/Like her dying/On my windshield/I can already feel/Her worms eating my spine…” (“Just a Car Crash Away”)? It doesn’t help matters when much of this is delivered in a raspy croak that, I suppose, is supposed to suggest the grave but instead is more like too much sleep.
There are more than a few, pardon the phrase, “saving graces” to the album, however. The guitar playing and solos are usually excellent and striking, and Manson’s penchant for strong melodies withbig choruses and hooks remain undiminished, even if they’re often buried in bass-heavy sludge. Breaking away somewhat from the general theme of the album are a pair of songs that clearly evoke his current interest in Lewis Carrol–his debut as a film director, the Carrol biopic “Phantasmagoria”, is due to be released sometime this year–”Are You the Rabbit?” and the title track take him outside his self-imposed dungeon somewhat. The song “You and Me and the Devil Makes 3″, although still obsessing over love (or the lack thereof), is more up-tempo and industrialized, reminding me of his high-water mark (for me, anyway) Holy Wood (In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death), with lyrics that offer a taste of Manson’s lyrical strengths: “hell flavored, I’ve got mood poisoning/You must be something that I hate…” He continues, “There’s not a word for what I want to do to you…” and then offers a couple of suggestions, chanting “Murdercute Happyrape.” Hey, we’re talking about Marilyn Manson here, not Conor freakin’ Oberst.
While this, for me, is Manson’s weakest effort since the under-baked Bowie-isms of Mechanical Animals, I still haven’t given up on the ghoul. While this new album is largely an excercise in leaden, lovelorn goth, there are glimpses of the “Man That You Fear” that prove he’s also still someone to admire, as well.