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Marilyn Manson
High End Of Low Julian Marszalek , June 2nd, 2009 14:07

Depending on which side of the Atlantic you're from, Marilyn Manson has either been seen as the greatest threat to Western civilisation since Communism — a corrupter of clean-cut Christian youth as it's packaged and processed for life in the big machine — or as an enormous figure of fun capable of upsetting the overly sensitive thanks to a predilection for wearing women's knickers and make-up in public.

Certainly, Manson's done few favours for his reputation of late. His last release, Eat Me, Drink Me — a mundane heap of introspective hooey released in the wake of his failed marriage to burlesque dance Dita Von Teese — belied his self-proclaimed status as the God Of Fuck (the God Of Oh For Fuck's Sake was probably nearer the mark).

So here we go again as Marilyn Manson attempts another self-reinvention even if it means returning to the glam racket of Mechanical Animals. Sonically, this is no bad thing. Whereas that album lost swathes of his black-clad audience, it did at least put Manson on first name terms with Mr Choon and there's a pleasure of sorts to be had in seeing the pair reacquainted. As indeed is the return to the fold of former bassist Twiggy Ramirez.

'Arma-Goddam-Motherfuckin-Geddon' is the sound of The Glitter Band swapping their stack heels for thigh-length stilettos as they stamp the terraces of the 70s. Similarly, 'Running To the End Of The World' has you imagining a squad of Panzer tanks wreaking havoc across the Eastern Front, soundtracked by T. Rex's 'Cosmic Dancer', and the urge for unabashed moshing arises with the glorious stomper 'We're From America'.

Sadly, the album falls short thanks to Manson's lyrical concerns and shortcomings as a vocalist. 'I Want To Kill You Like They Do In The Movies' is Manson-by-rote, while 'Pretty As A Swastika' employs cheap shock tactics that seem lame at best and insensitive and pretty damn ignorant at worst. The latter track was seemingly used as a chat-up line, and you have to wonder what he'd compare you to if he found you ugly.

With his voice failing to move beyond his trademark multi-tracked croak, you can't help but feel that Marilyn Manson is fast running out of ideas — and not just his own. He's been enormous fun over the years, from the cover and contents of Holy Wood (In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death) and its marvellous predecessor to his fabulously articulate self-defence in the wake of the Columbine massacre; but all too often High End Of Low is an unwanted glimpse into a simultaneous mid-life and identity crisis.