“The Pale Emperor,” the unexpectedly terrific new album from shock rocker Marilyn Manson doesn’t quite rival his creative heyday of 1996’’s “Antichrist Superstar,” 1998’s “Mechanical Animals” and 2000’s “Holly Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley),” but it’s his best work in more than a decade.
Manson & Tyler Bates retain elements of their industrial metal roots throughout the 10-track, 52-minute slab, but they’ve incorporated some welcome guitar blues and effective synthesizers into the mix. As such, “The Pale Emperor” represents a legitimate comeback from a guy we’d left for dead just a couple years ago.
Stomping opener “Killing Strangers” sets the tone, and Manson also scores with “Third Day of a Seven Day Binge,” “The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles,” “Slave Only Dreams to Be King,” “The Devil Beneath My Feet” and “Cupid Carries a Gun.” After two decades in the business, Marilyn Manson remains a vital musical entity. Who woulda thunk it? (Jeffrey Sisk)