Putting the finishing touches on his fifth album, The Golden Age of Grotesque, Marilyn Manson, never one to curtail claims with modesty, described his long-awaited opus as being "different and better and stronger and uglier and much more theatrical than anyone could ever imagine."
"Longer," one adjective Manson neglected to use to illustrate what he said was his most succinct album to date, only pertains to the wait fans have to endure before The Golden Age dawns. If it's not released before the end of the year — and Manson made no promises to do so — his streak of dropping a studio album every two years that began with 1994's Portrait of an American Family will be broken.
Although it's not the sprawling epic that both 2000's Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) and 1998's Mechanical Animals — which each clocked in at over an hour — were, The Golden Age of Grotesque is not short on substance.
"It is the most concise record we've done, so it's not as lengthy as any of the previous ones," he said. "That doesn't mean it has less content, I just think sometimes less is more. There's time to focus on how good things are if there's not as much to look at."
Manson, who had previously cited on his Web site that inspiration for The Golden Age of Grotesque was derived by the culture of 1930s Germany (see "Marilyn Manson Set Title For Next LP, Find Inspiration In '30s Berlin"), explained that relationships are the overriding theme that ties the tracks together.
"This record is broken down to the simplest, most important thing, and that's relationships — whether they're between people or between ideas. I use analogies of art and decadence. How things in Berlin in the '30s got to such a great point, and some of the greatest things were created, and it was crushed by evil, jealous, bitter conservative powers. And the same thing happened in America, several times and continuously, with art and with myself.
"The same thing happens with relationships. People try to change you and make you be somebody you're not. That's what this record deals with. This record is universally hard-hitting, and it feels like a rebirth. And part of that is being a new band and being focused. It's going to be different and better and stronger and uglier and much more theatrical than anyone could ever imagine."
Ironic that an album examining relationships marks the end of one of Manson's longest-running musical ones. The Golden Age of Grotesque is the first Manson album without the presence of Twiggy Ramirez, who parted company with the bizarre visionary in May (see "Marilyn Manson Splits With Bassist Twiggy Ramirez"). The slot was filled by KMFDM's Tim Skold, who is also co-producing the LP with Filter's Ben Grosse. Manson said after more than eight years together, the two simply drifted apart.
"I unfortunately haven't spoken to him since, but what had to be done was done," he explained as his voice dropped to a solemn tone. "I was going in one direction, but he didn't have a direction because he hadn't really made his way into contributing. I think his personal life was leading him somewhere different than where we were going, and I don't know, so I can't speak for him, but it's unfortunate. Hopefully he'll land on his feet. I still consider him a friend and I miss him."
Ramirez hasn't been dormant since his split from the Manson family. In addition to working with the Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri on the side project Headband, which also features Amen's Casey Chaos and newly-appointed Godsmack drummer Shannon Larkin, (see "Godsmack's Erna Releases Details On New LP, Drummer"), Ramirez is hammering out some new songs for a demo that he hopes could secure him a new label deal. He was undecided whether to present his new material with a group or as a solo artist.