Marilyn Manson – We Are Chaos (Loma Vista Recordings)

On We Are Chaos’s wonderfully retro title track and lead single, the redoubtable Mr Manson somehow managed to conjure up an image of The Pogues and Depeche Mode jamming to David Bowie in a country dive bar.

And although it was overly optimistic to expect such wild ribaldry writ large right across the Antichrist Superstar’s 11th studio album, this is a genuine treat for fans of boundary stretching alt rock.

Manson might have limped along like a flaccid cock in the mid noughties but 2015’s The Pale Emperor and follow up Heaven Upside Down signalled a return to relevance.

And We Are Chaos maintains that refreshingly gung-ho upward curve as one of heavy music’s true innovators delivers a concept album rich in lyrical conundrums and sonic clout.

Paint You With My Love is as chilling as it’s challenging as the final minute of a slow burner explodes into an angry volley of classic, vitriolic Manson.

One of the world’s great entertainers must be tearing his trademark matted black hair out at being controlled and confined by coronavirus.

Live is where Manson thrives but it seems 2020 won’t be remembered as a year entirely wasted where the arch anti-hero is concerned.

This is a record that builds, broods and frequently changes mood.

It’s an album that’s both immersive and immaculate with the power to intrigue and inspire.

The industrial-lite Half-Way One Step Forward is, in many respects, classic Manson.

And yet even here, an earworm of a piano riff offers a hint of vulnerability and a sense of necessary escapism.

Grammy winner Shooter Jennings proves to be an astute choice as producer.

Those fearing Manson’s reinvention as an outlaw country cowboy needn’t worry.

Instead, one of the most talented all-rounders on the US music scene manages to capture the raw appeal of his latest client and nurture an artist reborn.

‘Fuck the past here is your present’, a line embedded within Keep My Head Together, could well have been Manson and Jennings’ mantra during the recording of We Are Chaos.

But that doesn’t tell the true story here.

It’s exactly because the pair frequently lean on Manson’s storied past that they’ve been able to craft the sound of his immediate future.

Interestingly, the man behind the brand revealed that ghosts (he didn’t specify whether they were past, present or future) inspired much of We Are Chaos‘s lyrical content.

And there’s a typically haunting and ethereal quality to the album’s more reflective moments.

This is a record of our time and a set in tune with the coronavirus generation. 

Cheesy album closer Broken Needle sounds like Manson taking a ham-fisted stab at country rock and Jennings could – and probably should – have nipped this one in the bud.

Otherwise, We Are Chaos is a wonderful reminder of a troubled genius’s true creative potential. It’s the sound of Mansun shining.