The best thing that ever happened to Marilyn Manson was when Bowling For Columbine revealed that behind the Antichrist Superstar was an intelligent, sensitive man. It was also the worst thing that ever happened to him. The modern tragedy for cultural outsiders is not to be reviled, but to be accepted.
After the film, his mystique as the ‘God Of Fuck’, scourge of society dissipated; he was understood, even appreciated and the game’s been up ever since. After the underrated, siege mentality paranoid mania of 2000’s ‘Holy Wood (In The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death)’, he’s floundered, releasing hokey cover singles, while drifting into gossip pages.
‘The High End Of Low’ follows on from 2007’s ‘Eat Me, Drink Me’ in developing a more personal approach. It’s been a fatal mistake. This album is full of self-pitying dirges which give the impression of a slightly sad man-child sulking about girls in his bedroom. “Anyone with half a soul will hear this and never leave me”, he whines on ‘15’. He repeatedly drifts into soft rock ballads, with ‘Running To The Edge Of The World’ marking an embarrassing nadir. By opening up, he’s totally emasculated himself. He sounds defeated, like a man who knows he’s been drained of his shock value by Twilight-style mainstream co-option. Now even his most aggressive moments such as ‘Pretty As A Swastika’ seem oddly conservative.
Only on ‘We’re From America’ do we see the old spunky, hypocrisy-bating furious lunatic. Marilyn Manson was
an invention designed to provoke American society and it worked spectacularly well. To suddenly be shown the lonely little man behind the mask, well, it’s shocking, but not in the intended way.