Marilyn Manson Captures the Current CHAOS With New Single
“We are sick/Fucked up and complicated” sings Manson, but is all hope lost?
Marilyn Manson’s new single WE ARE CHAOS opens with a bright acoustic guitar riff and maintains a melancholically hopeful sound throughout. That’s where the hope appears to end though. Manson quickly launches into lyrics which reference death, perfume, mystery, misery, garbage dumps (of human bodies), and sickness, making WE ARE CHAOS a stark, yet pure, take on what has recently been a hellish experience, both mentally and physically, for many Americans. Sadly, as Manson astutely points out, it’s our fault, but is it as hopeless as Manson seems to believe?
Leave it to Marilyn Manson to both soothe and shock us at once. With a little help from producer Shooter Jennings, WE ARE CHAOS is Manson’s most unique sounding lead single. While acoustic guitars are not foreign to Manson’s sound, they’ve never featured as prominently in a Manson lead single before. The electric guitars are there, but the Billy Corgan sounding outro riff is surprising as well. The ironic pairing of such dark lyrics with hopeful sounding music is the most subtle, yet hard hitting artistic statement Manson has made yet.
Manson is no stranger to irony. The biggest mistake that many casual listeners make in regard to Marilyn Manson’s persona and imagery is thinking he is in league with the evils he portrays on stage. Playing with such imagery can be akin to playing with fire in many respects, but the reflection he holds up to the American psyche through his concert performances (and performance art), are meant not to glorify fasciscm (as one example), but to signal a clarion warning about its rise. For over twenty five years, Manson has been decrying the creeping fascism that has been growing in America. Lyrics like “Do you love your God, Guns, and Government?” and “Capitalism has made it this way/Old fashioned Fascism will take it away” are just two of the more obvious examples of Manson’s concern with the dark path we Americans are trepidatiously taking. Tasking himself with holding up a dark mirror to American greed, selfishness, and willful ignorance has made him a derided figure amongst the religious right, conservatives, and even moderates. Like a dark 21st Century court jester though, Marilyn Manson might be more relevant, and needed, now more than ever before.
It’s the perfect time for Manson to take his music, and message, to a new level of artistic integrity. Being an angry antiChrist superstar spilling anti-hate messages in the tone of said haters has now become blasé. That doesn’t mean that the angry anti-fascist message and energy that bands like Anti-Flag eloquently churn out is pointless. It’s that we are at the point of expecting more from a long termed artist like Manson. Along with the change in musical approach, Manson has changed his lyrical perspective. No longer preaching to the populace, he’s joined them in communion with the chaos, and folly. “WE are sick/Fucked up and complicated/WE are chaos/WE can’t be cured” replaces the aforementioned “do YOU love your Guns…” (emphasis mine). We’ve heard so much about how we are all in this together, be it the fight against COVID-19 or the fight for a more just society for our oppressed populations, but how often do we fail, as a society and as individuals, to do all that we can to win these fights? Seemingly daily there is another police brutality video gone viral. We have the highest amount of COVID-19 cases per capita. The politicization of health guidelines intended to stop the spread of coronavirus has led to economic ruin, hardship, sorrow, and death for many whom most likely wouldn’t have experienced any of it if we were concerned about others as much as ourselves. “…sick/Fucked up and complicated” indeed.
“We can’t be cured” sings Manson in WE ARE CHAOS. The buried hopefulness in the music, and the message, cannot be denied though. After all, if circumstances were truly hopeless, why even address it in such an artistic way? No, I think that even though it appears there is no cure, not just for COVID-19, but for the rising tide of fascism and our ever-present selfishness, there is hope. It appears Manson hasn’t dived into the abyss of hopelessness yet, and neither should we.