Coming off his last record, Heaven Upside Down was never shell shocking, but had moments where Manson could feel more as if he was trying to reach back into his previous styles when he was wearing nothing but torn cloth on stage. His installment before, THE PALE EMPEROR felt more mature and as if he was able to act closer to his age. Now with WE ARE CHAOS, this is more of what Heaven Upside Down should have been. It is still Marilyn Manson, but the pieces of work here tell a more interesting narrative and have some elements of pop rock that catch on the ears rather than grate.
Take the opening track, “RED BLACK AND BLUE” pulls back the curtain with some spoken word and distortion around Manson’s delivery to obtain some engaging poetry. He describes, “My eyes are mirrors. All I can see are gods on the left, and demons on the right,” accompany this with a line-up change and it becomes a whole new situation for Manson to play with.
The work of Shooter Jennings as one of the main songwriters working with Manson here allows a new perspective that also includes Juan Alderete and Ted Russell Kamp on the bass. Brandon Pertzborn and Jamie Douglass are on the percussion but there is also another new addition to the group. Aubrey Richmond covers the fiddle on WE ARE CHAOS and while subtle at times, adds this flair of sound to the orchestra. The guitars are covered by John Schreffler and Paul Wiley, giving an overarching reach to Manson in some of the better suited and engaging instrumentals of the last few albums.
Even when the subtly wears off and Manson is left standing nearly alone on “BROKEN NEEDLE,” there is something touching coming from THE GOD OF FUCK. Something somehow human and less monstrous which takes the audience by the hand and caresses them like a velvet coffin instead of a mass grave.
But this is the theme of WE ARE CHAOS, it is a rebirth in a lot of ways that sees a wax museum to his previous styles all meshed in one housing. Not entirely sadistic or frightening, Manson is approachable here with hints of charisma not seen in his other lives.