I haven’t reviewed Marylin Manson’s new album. Here’s why.

When talking about 90s and 00s alternative rock and goth rock, Marylin Manson is inevitably going to be discussed. He’s been a titan in that scene ever since his explosion in the mid-late 90s thanks to the Trent Reznor-produced records Portrait of an American Family and Antichrist Superstar. Perhaps more surprisingly has been his recent reinvention via the Tyler Bates-produced The Pale Emperor and Heaven Upside Down, where he leaned more into blues rock influences rather than his previous loud and brash industrial rock with more of a focus on melodic crooning rather than shouting and screaming. He’s put out his latest album We Are Chaos recently and I considered reviewing it on one of the outlets I write for. “Considered” is the key word here, because there have been things that have come up that have made me not want to.

In case you aren’t aware, in the last couple of years there have been a lot of accusations brought against Manson regarding sexually abusive behaviour and, in one case, racist remarks made towards House actress Charlyne Yi. The accusations about his sexually abusive behaviour are ones that have been linked to a statement made by his ex-girlfriend Evan Rachel Wood in 2018, where she described harrowing amounts of abuse. She never named who she was a victim of, but enough people could put two and two together to realise that it more than likely was Manson. Manson adding fuel to the fire himself by stating in an interview with Spin that he had fantasies about smashing Wood’s “face in with a sledgehammer”, as well describing a time where he called Wood 158 times, cutting himself with a razorblade every time she hung up. It’s not the only accusation that’s affected Manson’s camp either, as there was the whole deal with Twiggy Ramirez being accused of multiple counts of rape by ex-girlfriend Jessicka Adams that led to Manson firing him pretty much immediately and replacing him with Juan Alderete.

This is where the problems start for me. I grew up with Manson’s music. I genuinely enjoy his music and not just because of the nostalgia factor either. I’m a huge fan of industrial rock and industrial metal music from all sorts of different artists. If anything, the industrial resurgence is one of the most exciting things going on in music right now. Some of that resurgence, funnily enough, is being driven by Tim Skold, one of Manson’s former collaborators! The problem is that my enjoyment of that music is now being soured by the fact that one of its elder statesmen is pretty much a confirmed abuser. I’ve already seen much more than my fair share of people being outed as being abusers/rapists/groomers/whatever else they may be accused of. Some of these have included people I’ve had good experiences with in the past, which has caused a lot of really shocking realisations about who I should be associating with or even attempting to meet and network with in the music industry. It’s been a very tough pill to swallow, albeit one that I’m also kind of not surprised by.

So where does this relate to me not wanting to put a review up about Marylin Manson’s new album? Well, it would likely make me look disingenuous. I’ve been very vocal about my disdain for all the horrible and abusive practices regarding women and people of colour that has gone on in the music industry, especially in the side of the industry regarding rock and ‘alternative’ music, for far too long. To give any kind of review at all to an album which has a creator who is steeped in controversy and who more than likely has a very high-profile victim would seem like I’m being totally ignorant of what’s going on. I’m absolutely not ignorant of the issues regarding Manson. I’ve been hearing about these issues for 2 years now! Even before that point I’d heard many stories about him being difficult to work with, to put it lightly. In a lot of senses, Manson is damaged goods. He’s an old rockstar clinging to the last vestiges of a gimmick he’s been living both on and off-stage pretty much since the start of his career. The fact that his recent music has been a commercial and critical success doesn’t change any of that.

Therefore, I feel like it’s not appropriate to give a review of just the musical content of an album that won’t acknowledge any of that. I also feel that if I tried to include this current context about Manson’s image and reputation into a review of his new album, it might upset a lot of people who just want to hear about what I think of the music and not about me trying to use a review to surreptitiously force my opinion on a social issue that’s industry-wide down other people’s throats. It’s taken a lot of thinking to get to this point and to get to me actually writing this article, but I feel like this is the right way to do it and to talk about it. That thinking even included me thinking about pitching to people and places that I already have a working relationship with, but after ruminating on it a bit more I figured that this would be much better served on my personal site. I mean, it is my opinion after all and having this old site that I neglected for a long time until I decided I needed an outlet that is entirely my own for more personal stuff has been a blessing when it comes to talking about more difficult topics that editors might reject or things that lie outside of what the places I write for typically cover.

I’m not going to review Marylin Manson’s new album. I don’t think I ever will do a proper review of it. I don’t think I’ll even do throwback reviews of his earlier work either. A lot of other people have reviewed We Are Chaos and they’ve probably given it a lot of praise. That’s fine. It was a hugely hyped release from an artist who’s been around for nigh-on 30 years now and has had consistently huge amounts of success, even during a period in his career when his albums weren’t selling as well as they used to. A lot of other people too have put stunning critiscism out about his older work over the years, both at the time and in retrospect, and that’s absolutely OK because he’s been such an enduring figure in rock music. Enough people have covered Manson’s musical output over the ears for my opinion about that alone to not have to matter. What matters more is that we don’t ignore the fact that, at least in the past, Manson has been an abuser. Whether he is still an abuser now isn’t yet known, but if you were to ask me people often don’t really change and I know that from experience. We don’t have to completely leave Manson’s legacy behind as a writer, songwriter, artist and performer, but we do need to treat that legacy with as much caution as we possibly can.

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