Marilyn Manson really should be sucking by now. Sex, violence, drugs, religion — yes, they're all practically inexhaustible topics, but he's done them for more than a decade, and his shtick isn't that shocking anymore. Whether it's Jesus Christ or Adolf Hitler, any public figure who trafficks in extremes eventually turns into a cliche.
Manson is clearly anxious about this. "Everything has been said before/Nothing left to say anymore" are the first words that come out of his mouth on The Golden Age of Grotesque. His opening round, "This Is the New Shit," sounds a whole lot like the old shit. Synths twitter expectantly until guitars come charging in to run over your skull like bouncing monster trucks as drums and bass thrash out a death-party groove.
What's surprising is that there's still so much life in what Manson is rehashing. Originality has never been his forte, but this walking sound bite excels at absorbing what's out there and distilling it through his anti-charisma until it's simultaneously fresh and putrid. For "mOBSCENE," he steals nearly the same cheerleader cheer that Faith No More stole for their 1992 track "Be Aggressive," but the dumb, catchy result works nevertheless. "I got an F and a C, and I got a K, too/And the only thing that's missing is a bitch like you," he wails in "(s)AINT," a rhyme so moronic it's inspired. The album loses momentum as the songs slow and dull down, but the first half of Grotesque shines brighter than it should.