Saturday, June 9, 2007

Marilyn Manson - Eat Me, Drink Me

Marilyn Manson
Eat Me, Drink Me
Interscope 2007

Ever since Marilyn Manson has been around, I have never been a fan. This is due to the stigma that surrounds him. That stigma being: Goth scene king, nihilism, his unashamed grotesque art, and self label “antichrist superstar.” It is a reputation he mostly plays into, evident on the covers of his albums like Mechanical Animals, where he appears much like a naked mannequin with a female shaped body. With the success of this type of presentation, he was primarily responsible for bringing the macabre into the mainstream music scene. While I have respected him as an artist, I never picked up an album, and never listened to him more than what was paraded all over MTV. His music occupied my ears occasionally, never on purpose.

But Manson, real name Brian Warner, did always interest me as a person. Being one for character driven stories, I often wondered what he was like underneath the black clothing, pasty make up, and ever changing contact lenses. Yet, his music never went inward. Each album was like a piece of his outfit; one his eyeliner, another, his tattoos. They were about what he represented, his ideology, what he chose to inform people he believed in or disagreed with. They hovered on his surface.

Recently, bored on my lunch break at work, I picked up SPIN magazine, in which Manson dominated the cover. He had been absent from the forefront for sometime. ‘He’s back again,’ I thought. ‘What is it now?’ Still, I read the article, and was surprised. On those pages was Manson, or more so, Brian Warner. Honest and brokenhearted. Of course the author of the article was talking about his new album Eat Me, Drink Me, but the article centered on Manson as a person. Reading further, it was evident that this was due to the album itself being a departure for Manson- it was an album about him.

He went on to describe in the article that he had been hurt deeply by his now ex wife and in the midst of it had gone into a depression and come back from it with the help of a new love interest and his friends around him. And through the advice of his guitar player, he wrote songs about the experience that he says changed him and his perspective on his life.

For the first time in his entire career, I was actually interested in his music, even without having heard it. I was surprised by what I saw on the pages as I read. Something I had never associated with Marilyn Manson: hope.

My lunch break was over, but when I got home after work I listened to the album, posted in its entirety on MySpace during the week of its release.

The first track is probably the best work he’s ever done. Titled “If I Was Your Vampire” it speaks of loving someone so much you’d die for them. Within his dark, droning vocals and the minimalist guitar riff in the verses, the hope Manson seems to have found shines through. The song is epic, a calling out from within him to this love to say ‘you are all I need.’ The image: two lovers, vampires, embraced in the moonlight awaiting their certain death by the oncoming sun, accepting it as he sings “instead of killing time, we’ll have each other until the sun.”

The music moves like a rollercoaster, subtle in parts, driving in the choruses which are heavier versions of the verses just an octave higher. It reflects the mood of the two lovers as if they are playing it themselves.

The track ends prophetic of the love they share stating “this is where it starts; this is where it will end. Here comes to moon again.”

The rest of the album mostly stays inward, focused on the newness of love with tracks like “Heart Shaped Glasses (When the Heart Guides the Hand).” It’s also biting at the pain born from former love in tracks like “Putting Holes in Happiness” in which he says “I should have picked the photograph, it lasted longer than you.”

Manson still stays bleak throughout, however, and doesn’t lose all of his nihilistic approach to life. Several times on the album, I departed from it. Perhaps his most honest form is his best, but I will admit he has had unparalleled success by turning a critical eye to the world and screaming hatred toward it.

What is found on Eat Me, Drink Me, though, is pieces of his humanity. By looking at Marilyn Manson only on the outside it is easy to accept him as one form, a stereotype we create in our heads. It can be very easy to put him in a box. But this album makes it harder, and I found myself relating to the pain he felt. I never thought that was something I’d ever do. But as he proves on all his albums, he knows music, and it pours out of him naturally. At times on the album he becomes universal by simply being honest, and through it he proves the power that music has to connect, relate, and heal.

-Mark Wingerter

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