Release Date: May 26, 2009
Record label: Interscope
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
If you grew up as a sullen, alienated teen listening to Manson’s music in the ‘90s, The High End of Low is the type of album that will still resonate with that angsty teen that lurks beneath the surface of adulthood. In this day and age of economic turmoil, complacency, and (snicker) swine flu, it’s hard not to find yourself listening to your angry inner child. The problems encountered in adolescence only grow more complicated over time, be it relationships or authority figures.
Remember when everybody was afraid of Marilyn Manson and Eminem? Then it turned out Detroit's white king of rap was a celebrity-obsessed one-liner machine with a pathetic array of mommy issues, and Florida's homegrown Satan went through a bad breakup and released 2007's weepy (relatively speaking) Eat Me, Drink Me. Now, on The High End of Low, Manson is trying to regain his dark throne once more, and frankly, it's unlikely to work. The track titles read like Manson-by-numbers: "Pretty as a Swastika," "Arma-godd**n-motherf**kin-geddon," "I Want to Kill You Like They Do in the Movies," "I Have to Look Up Just to See Hell," and perhaps the most unwittingly revelatory, "We're from America.
Manson’s tranny-android-from-Pluto routine already felt corny when he dropped his first album in 1994, but that hasn’t stopped him from selling boatloads of CDs since then. Not surprisingly, High End finds him still prattling on about swastikas, hell, and Armageddon, oblivious to how silly it all sounds. Musically, the new tunes mostly evoke warmed-over Nine Inch Nails crossed with mediocre ’70s metal, and occasionally, the results can be fairly satisfying.
Away from music, Marilyn Manson has proved himself to be an articulate, engaging and intelligent man, so after more than a decade of separating sulky teens from their pocket money, it would be nice if he could throw us a curve ball once in a while. Like, say, a dubstep album, or a collection of pagan neofolk songs; anything other than the usual entry-level shock-rock histrionics. But, unfortunately, the Marilyn Manson blueprint holds fast, and all the familiar elements are here: vaguely transgressive lyrics ("You're as pretty as a swastika"), raspy, downbeat verses followed by shouty, stomp-up-the-stairs-and-slam-the-bedroom-door choruses.