Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Marilyn Manson- Eat Me, Drink Me

Author's Note: This review was originally published on 411Mania.com. It can be found here:


Ten years ago, Marilyn Manson reigned supreme as every parent’s worst nightmare. Armed with industrial-tinged metal, androgynous makeup and mock Satanism, Manson became an icon for a generation of angry youth. By the dawn of the new millennium, Manson faded into the background, replaced by Eminem and 50 Cent. A decade after he proclaimed himself an “Antichrist Superstar,” Manson attempts to reclaim his position as the King of Shock with Eat Me, Drink Me.

Eat Me, Drink Me was recorded in the aftermath of Manson’s bitter divorce from striptease artist Dita Von Teese. The specter of the relationship hangs over every aspect of the record. The glossy sheen of his early albums is gone, replaced by a surprisingly lean sound. The heavy industrial rock influence is also gone, with droning flourishes of synth in its place. Manson’s voice reflects the bleakness of the music, croaking in his usual throaty growl. Guitarist Tim Skold adds another layer to Manson’s sound by introducing guitar solos. Skold is a fine guitarist, but his ‘80s inspired solos take away from Manson’s post-punk inspired vision.

While Manson’s musical experimentation works, his lyrics do not. Manson is trying so hard to be shocking that he borders on self-parody. Song titles like “If I Was Your Vampire” and “You and Me and the Devil Makes Three” were intended to be self-referential and ironic, but are earnest and hokey. Lyrics like “I want your pain to taste/why your ashamed” and “You press the knife against your heart/and say ‘I love you so much, kill me now,” sound like they were written by a third rate My Chemical Romance. The confidence, anger and swagger that transformed Brian Warner into Marilyn Manson are nowhere to be found. At times Manson sounds like a teenager who found his girlfriend sleeping with the captain of the football team. The invincible rock star who once proclaimed himself “The God of Fuck” seems like a distant memory.

Manson’s newfound immaturity is encapsulated on “Mutilation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery,” supposedly meant to be an attack on My Chemical Romance. Manson charges the band with “standing in his shadow” and claims that they are “rebels without applause.” If Manson were on his A-Game, this song could have been scathing. Unfortunately it’s nothing but cliché insults and obscenities. It has the feel of playing the dozens, but kids are usually more creative.

Despite all of its flaws Eat Me, Drink Me is still an enjoyable album. The post-punk theme is a welcome change for Manson, and creates a wonderfully dark mood. Manson still has the charisma that made him such a huge star, which is something that most modern rock singers lack. Even though the lyrics are some of the worst he’s ever written, Manson’s earnestness throughout gives them a bizarre charm. Manson may not be the most dangerous man in America anymore, but he’s still pretty fun to listen to.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Poison- Poison'd

Author's note: This review was originally published on 411Mania.com. It can be found here:


There are two types of cover albums. The first is meant to be a stopgap, whetting the appetite of the fans before releasing an album of all new material. The second is an attempt to revive flagging record sales by releasing an album of songs that fans are already familiar with. Poison's Poison’d falls into the latter category.

Poison has never been a band for the critics, but the carefree essence of their music put them above many of their peers. This carefree vibe is completely absent on Poison’d, replaced by cold calculation. Every part of this album was meticulously planned, designed to appeal to every type of rock fan. Nothing was left to chance, which makes for a bland, predictable listening experience. Poison’d isn’t so much a record, but a product

The calculation works to some extent. The Sweet’s “Little Willy” nearly captures the lighthearted sleaze of the original, and the ballads (Alice Cooper’s “I Never Cry” and The Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See”) follow the successful "Every Rose Has It's Thorn" template. Bret Michaels' voice has gotten raspier, which gives the band a tougher sound. The highlight of the disc is Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “I Need to Know.” Michaels and guitarist C.C. DeVille play off of each other like it is 1986, showing that their combustible chemistry isn’t completely gone.

Unfortunately, Poison’d suffers from many miscalculations. The first offender is The Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers.” The original appears on Sticky Fingers, recorded while The Stones were in the grip of heroin addiction. Mick Jagger sounds tired and worn, and sings the song as if he anticipates death. Keith Richards and Mick Taylor compliment the vocals, laconically strumming on acoustic guitars. Poison attempt to replicate the original as much as possible, but they come off as an amateur bar band. However, “Dead Flowers” is far from the most offensive thing on the album.

Poison’s cover of David Bowie’s “Suffragette City” is the worst thing they have ever recorded. All of the sleaze, camp and ambiguous sexuality of the original have been removed, replaced by generic Poison riffs. Bret Michaels goes through the motions, not even bothering to pick up any of Bowie’s nuances. Mick Ronson’s fuzz-toned custom Les Paul has been replaced by C.C. DeVille’s unnecessary wanking. Even the song’s final cry of “Wham Bam, Thank You Ma’am!” sounds forced.

Poison’d wraps up several previously released covers, dating all the way back to 1987. These covers add nothing to the album, and actually show how lame their cover songs have always been. The band’s great rendition of “Cover of a Rolling Stone” is nowhere to be found, but their atrocious cover of “Squeezebox” is prominently featured.

Poison has been firmly entrenched in the nostalgia circuit for several years now, and Poison’d ensures that they will stay there. This album does have some decent moments, but they are overshadowed by the misfires. If Poison’d contained half of the feelgood vibe of the early albums, it would have been a fun listen. As it stands, it’s just a way to promote a tour.