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.