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No Guilty Pleasures #4: Marilyn Manson's 'Eat Me, Drink Me'

Monday, 12 January 2015 Written by Alec Chillingworth

Oh, Brian. How the mighty fall. From America's most hated man to Alan Rickman lookalike, Marilyn Manson has, in the eyes of the many, spent himself. Having bequeathed a large chunk of his recent time to a role on Sons Of Anarchy and making pervy art films instead of being the Antichrist Superstar of yore, many see 2000's 'Holy Wood' as his last potent dose of poison.

Drenched with emotion and packed with deeply personal lyrics, 2007's 'Eat Me, Drink Me' is often regarded as Manson's biggest flop. Well, considering that it was followed by 'The High End Of Low' and 'Born Villain', it's perhaps time to dissect this much-maligned disc, which will doubtless be thrust back into the conversation due to its creator’s return to form on ‘The Pale Emperor’.

First of all, it's not your average Manson album. There's no massive, convoluted concept and there's no chasing of former glories. This is the man at his most vulnerable, and it's unlike anything he's attempted before or since. Take its murky opening number, If I Was Your Vampire, for example. Written on Christmas Day, the song was inspired by a friend offering to let Manson stab them. “That song is the new Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” he said at the time.

It is darker than anything he's written bar 'Holy Wood'. It's visceral and undeniably real, rather than a quasi-fascist narrative. Coupled with Manson's withered falsetto, If I Was Your Vampire kicks 'Eat Me, Drink Me' off in gloriously depressing fashion.

Not only are the lyrics and vocals stripped of elaborate pretence, but so is the music. With all compositions being handled by Manson and former KMFDM axeman Tim Sköld, 'Eat Me, Drink Me', features a less layered approach than 'The Golden Age Of Grotesque'. While it's not a pummelling, full-on industrial assault in the vein of Ministry or White Zombie, the simplicity of the record allows room for experimentation with and expansion of the Manson sound.

The juxtaposition between militaristic drumming, clean guitar and haunting, music-box twinkliness on Heart-Shaped Glasses is just one of the album's many highlights, but Sköld's inclusion is enough to make previous Manson guitarists cry so hard their makeup washes off. 'Eat Me, Drink Me' is rife with solos and six-stringed oddities.

The wiry riff that worms its way through the underrated Evidence is one of the finest in the Manson canon, while the unadulterated fret-wanking that characterises The Red Carpet Grave packs so much win. The bare bones atmosphere of the record gives Sköld's work an even bigger launchpad, with They Said That Hell's Not Hot and Just A Car Crash Away oozing gravitas and larger-than-life flavour.

For the majority of its duration, 'Eat Me, Drink Me' brims with singalong tunes, blackened retrospect and uncharted guitar tones, widdles and passages. While the album does tail off (particularly during the bloated title track), it's a far more diverse, musically challenging collection than anything that came after it. Nothing will ever touch the 'Antichrist Superstar', 'Mechanical Animals' and 'Holy Wood' trilogy, but at least 'Eat Me, Drink Me' exists as its own personal, beautifully harrowing entry in Manson's discography.

‘The Pale Emperor’ is out on January 19.

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