This one caught us by surprise, dropping into the mailbox the day before release so it’s been a rushed couple of listens. As such this is very much a “first impressions” review, and opinions may change over time!
Having said that, I don’t think they’d become much more positive than the ones I’ve developed over the last couple of hours. We Are Chaos may have an abrasive title, but the music on the album is far from that. This is a very mellow, laid back, thought-provoking piece. This is far from the shock horror outbursts which had the froth-mouthed do-gooders decrying him back in the day. This is a very different work of art and, hand on heart, I think it’s the best full album I’ve heard from him in years.
While recognisably Manson, it’s a completely different monster to what I’m used to. I can’t see more than one or two songs from it making their way into a live act purely because overall it’s more “creepy and slow” than “loud and catchy”, but that is its biggest strength. I can imagine sitting in a room listening to this with a glass of wine and a good book. I mean, sure there are heavier sections here and there (in “Infinite Darkness” and “Don’t Chase the Dead” for example) but overall this is more of a toe-tapper than a fist-pumper. Again, though, do not take this as criticism.
This concept album is the mirror Shooter and I built for the listener – it’s the one we won’t stare into. There are so many rooms, closets, safes and drawers. But in the soul or your museum of memories, the worst are always the mirrors. Shards and slivers of ghosts haunted my hands when I wrote most of these lyrics.
Every song is well written and designed to swirl through your mind rather than batter your brains in. While opener “Red Black and Blue” is a good start, the title track which follows is wonderfully anthemic and rousing… and possibly one of the best individual songs I’ve heard this year. To counterpoint it, there’s the totally balladic “Paint You With My Love” which owes more to the likes of John Lennon rather than Trent Reznor. Well, Lennon and Reznor by the time you hit the final minute.
In complete honesty, I’ve never been a huge Marilyn Manson fan. I’ve respected him, enjoyed the bigger songs and found his live show at the very least enjoyable (most of the time), but We Are Chaos has completely taken me by surprise. It’s taken the aspects of his older material that I didn’t realise I liked as much as I did, focused on them and resulted in a hugely enjoyable ten track release.
Header image by Perou
We Are Chaos is out on September 11th