The Pale Emperor heralds the triumphant return of legendary alt-rock act Marilyn Manson. Considering it’s been three whole years since the band’s last record dropped, – not to mention the fact that production began on this latest venture way back in 2013 – many may say it’s been a long time coming. Fortunately for those expectant masses, the band’s ninth studio album is quite a treat.
“Killing Strangers” is a slow burning, atmospheric opener. Bass and drums creep into characteristically demented vocals from the eponymous lead singer. The riff and melody escalate, becoming particularly fiery towards the end. “Deep Six” emerges ominously out of this with fast paced drums and coarse vocals. Raw, penetrating guitars follow on, charging into an aggressive chorus.
“Third Day of a Seven Day Binge” begins reservedly, growing as it develops. A combination of musical elements unfold in the background throughout, adding an unsettling ambience. “The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles” changes things up with a deceptively light introduction that is soon supplanted by a more weighty, infectious rhythm. The chorus injects an engrossing melody into proceedings, that’s kept afloat by biting instrumentation. Its successor, “Warship My Wreck”, fades in gradually, establishing a foreboding tone. It eventually kicks off with frantic vocals and fearful music.
A laboured, technical beat and strained vocals expand out of “Slave Only Dreams to be King”’s intro. The chorus is heavy and bracing, combining with a lot of electronic elements to set a tormented vibe. “The Devil Beneath My Feet” goes in a different direction, starting with relatively upbeat drums and a bassy, electronic riff. This is more mellow than previous entries, featuring hushed vocals and reticent yet striking guitars.
Otherwordly synths recur throughout “Birds of Hell Awaiting”. They’re combined with subtle riffs and menacing vocals for a haunting number that has a strong dream like quality. Fading out, it gives way to the invigorating percussion and melody of “Cupid Carries a Gun”. These are mixed with a classic touch, lending an elegance to the sound that’s quite stirring. “Odds of Even”, on the other hand, arrives with a solemn, fatigued attitude, rife with uneasiness. It serves as an epic and immense closer.
There should be plenty within The Pale Emperor’s 52 minute run time to keep fans happy. Its execution is stylish and sinister, while its sound is melodic and absorbing. Overall, this is a strong and solid addition to Marilyn Manson’s discography.