Given the title of Marilyn Manson’s eleventh studio record you’d half expect it to be an inexorable sonic fist in the face, perhaps even harking back to the fury and anger of his ‘Antichrist Superstar’ days. But think again, because ‘We Are Chaos’ is a body of work designed to challenge and confound listeners, and in fact after numerous listens it actually takes me back to the days of ‘Mechanical Animals’, and a time when screams of ‘SELL OUT’ could be detected from within the more hardcore element of the Manson family.
I suppose discovering that this ten tracker (you get two extra acoustic tracks on the deluxe CD) was being co-produced by Shooter Jennings should have given the more astute Manson fan some indication that that this would be anything but a “by numbers” record (something that perhaps could be levelled at MM’s last two studio records) and on first hearing the acoustic driven title track via the obligatory teaser lyric video I was certainly intrigued to hear more.
Kicking off with the part spoken word ‘Red Black And Blue’ this is without question the most old school Manson sounding track contained herein. The spoken word intro making about as much sense as Manson’s (almost Cantona-essque) press releases these days, it’s not long before the trademark staccato rhythms are banging away at my brain and I can just see the self-styled God Of Fuck screaming his lungs out draped over the lightbox/monitor stage front and centre. Oh, for a live gig though eh?
One of the funniest things I read online in the run up to the album’s September 11th release date was that the title track reminded one listener of an eighties charity single, it’s a comment I simply cannot get out of my head never mind how many times I have subsequently listened to it, so maybe just maybe it is just that, a cry for help in our troubled times, and perhaps something we can all reflect upon.
‘We Chase The Dead’ is up next and this is for me is where the album truly slips into gear, a huge slice of gothic pop, this beauty segues perfectly into the anthemic ‘70s melancholia of ‘Paint You With My Love’ and thus truly submerges you within the qualities of the album as an art form.
This rich vein of songwriting form continues within the Satanic funtime grooves of ‘Perfume’, the prophetic electronic blitz of ‘Infinite Darkness’, which once again touches on the raw Manson nerve endings of old, whilst the down beat ‘Half-Way And One Step Forward’ and ‘Solve Coagula’ perhaps best illustrate what Marilyn means when he says that “shards and slivers of ghosts haunted my hands when I wrote most of these lyrics”.
The epic ‘Broken Needle’ closes things down and this once again acoustic lead track actually has me checking it is Marilyn Manson I’m listening to and not in fact 90s indie rockers Mansun. That’s because like I said at the top of this review ‘We Are Chaos’ is an album that in equal measure will challenge and confound you but thankfully it will not disappoint you.
Oh, and before I sign off, ‘We Are Chaos’ is also a concept album. Good luck figuring that one out.
Buy ‘We Are Chaos’ Here
Author: Johnny Hayward