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Albums

Pop/Rock - Released May 25, 2009 | Nothing

Remember when everybody was afraid of Marilyn Manson and Eminem? Then it turned out Detroit's white king of rap was a celebrity-obsessed one-liner machine with a pathetic array of mommy issues, and Florida's homegrown Satan went through a bad breakup and released 2007's weepy (relatively speaking) Eat Me, Drink Me. Now, on The High End of Low, Manson is trying to regain his dark throne once more, and frankly, it's unlikely to work. The track titles read like Manson-by-numbers: "Pretty as a Swastika," "Arma-godd**n-motherf**kin-geddon," "I Want to Kill You Like They Do in the Movies," "I Have to Look Up Just to See Hell," and perhaps the most unwittingly revelatory, "We're from America." This album marks the return of former bassist Twiggy Ramirez to the band, but as ever the Manson personality/persona towers over everything else, and his two or three musical ideas are repeated throughout the disc, with only a few exceptions. It doesn't help that he's never even tried to become a technically proficient vocalist; his desultory croon and hoarse shriek are the same as they've been since the early '90s. There are a few catchy riffs here, and a nice tone on "Blank and White," but lyrics like "If you touch me I'll be smeared/You'll be stained for the rest of your life" (from "Leave a Scar") and "Everyone will come to my funeral to make sure that I stay dead" (from "Four Rusted Horses") feel like he's trying to convince himself as much as the audience. The album's middle stretch is a hard slog, with the six-and-a-half minute "Running to the Edge of the World" followed by the nine-minute "I Want to Kill You..." The former is a Bowie-esque ballad/epic (acoustic guitar, strings) that could have been great if it had only been two minutes shorter, while the latter is a one-riff trudge that never builds up any momentum. The aggressive "We're from America" has bursts of lyrical wit, but when your opening line, "We're from America where we eat our young," is cribbed from Funkadelic circa 1972, you're pretty much advertising that you're out of ideas. ~ Phil Freeman

Pop/Rock - Released January 1, 1999 | TVT Records

Back when Mechanical Animals entered the charts at number one, it seemed like the world belonged to Marilyn Manson. Not only did he have the most popular album in the country, but he was everywhere -- magazine covers, op-ed pieces, TV shows, gossip columns, award ceremonies, film cameos, even the radio. There was also talk of a feature film, starring none other than himself. All gave the impression that Mechanical Animals was a colossus, which wasn't necessarily accurate. Yes, it was a number one album that went platinum, but after "The Dope Show," it didn't generate any big alt-rock hits, and more importantly, it didn't play all that well with Manson's core audience, who were more interested in goth angst than a glossy glam fantasia. Perhaps Manson would have been able to kick up some support if he didn't court controversy throughout the album's supporting tour. While it earned him endless headlines, particularly when his feud with touring partner Courtney Love went up in smoke, it didn't quite translate into sales. Instead, it resulted in Marilyn fatigue. It didn't matter what Manson did, even if he was (ridiculously) blamed for something as horrific as the April 1999 school massacre at Columbine; people just didn't care anymore -- they were sick of having him to kick around. Perhaps that's why The Last Tour on Earth, the live souvenir from the ill-fated Mechanical Animals, was released to little fanfare in November 1999: Nobody was interested anymore. If The Last Tour on Earth was supposed to recapture their interest, it's hard to see how. Live albums rarely play to a mass audience, and this one appeals to a particularly specialized audience, capturing not only an artist adrift, but also documenting aurally a primarily visual experience. Marilyn Manson's records are usually extremely well-crafted, filled with revealing sonic details, but he disregards his attention for minutiae in concert, choosing to concentrate on spectacle. This means more time spent on dazzling visuals than on new arrangements for the songs, and that's not a bad thing -- Manson is nothing if he isn't an agent provocateur. His shows should be an overwhelming visual experience. There's also really no call for drastically new or reinvented versions of "The Reflecting God," "The Beautiful People," or "Irresponsible Hate Anthem," since they serve as the soundtrack for the sights. That's not to dismiss a very good, tight band, but Marilyn Manson in concert is certainly about the experience, not the music. As such, it's hard to see the purpose of The Last Tour on Earth. There are no discernible differences between the stage and studio versions of these songs, apart from rougher vocals and slightly more immediate sound. Unlike many live albums, there isn't much visceral energy here, possibly because the music had to be fairly regimented to coincide with the visuals. Apart from the crowd noises and Manson's on-stage ramblings, it's hard to tell that this is a live album based on the recordings themselves. Thus, it's not really necessary for anyone but diehards who want every Manson recording, regardless of quality. And given that part of what made Manson's three studio albums interesting were their studio origins, even the diehards might be disappointed. Each record was impeccably crafted, relying as much on studio trickery as songcraft, and that's why they were hits. Stripped of that, the music is less interesting -- it doesn't really collapse without the studio support, but given a choice, it's hard to see why anybody would put on Last Tour. Those who are intrigued with Manson's rambling, of course, might be an exception, considering that there's a certain fascination in hearing him act like a sober Jim Morrison, trying to get his audience to yell "motherf*cker" and winding up with an incoherent "Maoohahfuer," or relating his spellbinding vision of a dream world, where the land is made of drugs, cops give Mr. Manson head, and God is spelled "D-R-U-G-S." It's even funnier when you realize these rants were delivered, by name, to the Midwestern off-markets of Grand Rapids, MI, and Cedar Rapids, IA. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Pop/Rock - Released January 1, 1995 | Polydor

A year on from Portrait of an American Family, Marilyn Manson released the stopgap EP Smells Like Children. Where the full-length debut showed sparks of character and invention beneath industrial metal sludge, Smells Like Children is a smartly crafted horror show, filled with vulgarity, ugliness, goth freaks, and sideshow scares. Manson wisely chose to heighten his cartoonish personality with the EP. Most of the record is devoted to spoken words and samples, all designed to push to the outrage buttons of middle America. Between those sonic collages arrives one new song, retitled remixes of Portrait songs -- "Kiddie Grinder," "Everlasting Cocksucker," "Dance of the Dope Hats," "White Trash" -- and three covers ("Sweet Dreams," "I Put a Spell on You," "Rock 'n' Roll Nigger"), all given a trademark spooky makeover. Musically, it may not amount to much -- it's goth-metal-industrial, as good as the "Dope Hat," "Lunch Box," and "Cake and Sodomy" trilogy that distinguished the debut -- but as a sonic sculpture, as an objet d'art, it's effective and wickedly fascinating. It's exactly what Brian Warner needed to do to establish Marilyn Manson as America's bogeyman for the late '90s. [And it also helped enhance his myth for his fans. Smells Like Children originally was released promotionally, complete with unauthorized Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory samples and other unapproved sound bites. It was pulled, censored, and re-edited ("Abuse, Pt. 1" and "Abuse, Pt. 2" were removed from the EP) before it was officially released in October 1995, and the original promo copies became valuable collectibles and the most bootlegged item in the Manson catalog.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Pop/Rock - Released January 1, 1994 | Polydor

Coming up screaming from the depths of Florida -- there being no scarier state in the union -- Marilyn Manson cannily positioned themselves as a goth-industrial hybrid on their debut album, Portrait of an American Family. At this stage in their evolution, Marilyn Manson was clearly a band, not just the project of Brian Warner, aka Mr. Manson, who would later simply adopt his band's name as his own. Also, horror-show schlock was a bigger factor than it would be later on, when he wanted to be the Antichrist Superstar for the world at large. In other words, it's Manson at his silliest, singing about "My Monkey" and "Snake Eyes and Sissies." Beneath all the camp shock, there are signs of Warner's unerring eye for genuine outrage and musical talent, particularly on the trio of "Cake and Sodomy," "Lunchbox," and "Dope Hat." But even a few years on from its 1994 release, Portrait of an American Family began to sound a little dated, especially since its Nine Inch Nails-meets-W.A.S.P.-meets-Alice Cooper formula was fully realized on Manson's follow-up album, Antichrist Superstar. Here, it's in sketch form, and by the end of the album it's clear that Warner, Manson, whatever you want to call him, needs a full canvas to truly wreak havoc. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Rock - Released August 17, 2016 | Rock House Rewind Records

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Rock - Released January 19, 2015 | Cooking Vinyl

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Rock - Released January 19, 2015 | Cooking Vinyl

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Rock - Released December 16, 2014 | Cooking Vinyl

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Rock - Released November 10, 2014 | Cooking Vinyl

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Electro - Released November 4, 2012 | Cooking Vinyl

Electro - Released November 4, 2012 | Cooking Vinyl

Electro - Released October 21, 2012 | Cooking Vinyl

Electro - Released August 19, 2012 | Cooking Vinyl

Rock - Released April 29, 2012 | Cooking Vinyl

Rock - Released March 20, 2012 | Cooking Vinyl

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Marilyn Manson in the magazine
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