Marilyn Manson - Mechanical Animals
(Nothing / Interscope Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
By Tony Bonyata"I'm the new, new model", proclaims shock-rock, super-freak Marilyn Manson only after admitting, "I'm as fake as wedding cake", on "New Model No. 15", a bump-and-grind metal number from the band's third full-length release, Mechanical Animals. The new model that he's referring to is the latest incarnation of Marilyn Manson. Not the band, or even the alter-ego created by a skinny, Mid-western kid named Brian Warner, but rather, Marilyn Manson the image... the monster... the schtick.
Just as Manson had gained a huge following of young, impressionable kids with his volatile blend of goth / industrial / techno / metal, cloaked in Alice Cooper-meets-G.G. Allen shock-theatrics, he has decided to tone down his satanic persona by trading in his horns for a set of gold-lame platform boots. That's right, kids, the 'Anti-Christ Superstar' himself has sold his soul to Ziggy Stardust. And the results of his foray into a more hardcore glam-rock seem to fit him like a feather boa around T-Rex glam-pixie, Marc Bolan's neck.
Owing much to David Bowie's early campy career, Manson has not only changed his image but the direction of his music, stripping back some of the aggressive industrial / metal mayhem of his two previous albums in favor of electronic musings over slightly less-in-your-face numbers, not to mention, dare I say, more melodic compositions.
That's not to say, however, that he's serving us a more responsible role model on a silver platter. Far from it. From the pro-drug songs, "I Don't Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me)" and "Coma White" to the blatant, meaningless sex on "User Friendly" and the atheistic rantings that, "God is just a statistic" on the techno-spiked "Posthuman", Manson is still positioning himself as a target for not only God-fearing hate groups but concerned, moralistic parents as well.
The bottom line with Marilyn Manson's Mechanical Animals however is, if you take away his pointed tail, grease-paint, pumps or whatever other perversion he's bound to slip into next, your left with some pretty powerful music. From the pumped-up Gary Numan-esque new wave of "New Model No. 15", to the funky, guitar-riff ripped straight from Bowie's "Fame" and gospelly chorus on "I Don't Like The Drugs...", as well as Twiggy Ramirez' twisted guitar-line and the stomping rhythms of keyboardist Madonna Wayne Gacy and drummer Ginger Fish on "The Dope Show", Manson and company know how to produce a refreshing sound, if only by throwing together enough familiar ones to make it seem altogether new.
While Manson's recent transformation from Satan to 'satin and sequins' may not produce glam-rock's new poster boy, he's slowly climbing out of the inferno he's created and, at least musically, heading in the right direction.
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