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Thread: Retrospective: The High End Of Low

  1. #1
    benis Mok's Avatar
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    Default Retrospective: The High End Of Low

    THEOL has aged like fine wine tbh. I wasn't big on it when it first came out, but I love it now.

    Though "rapist werewolves" should be deep six'ed. And I think "I Have to Look Up.." should have just been called "The High End of Low"
    Last edited by Mok; 07-08-2016 at 03:11 AM.

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  3. #2
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    I thought - much like the recent Born Villain discussion - The High End Of Low was due for a retrospective, so after the above post from today, it now has a thread.

    Describing it as having mulled and fermented well is a good shout. I think despite the theatrics of Against All Gods, surprisingly colourful aesthetics of Lest We Forget and EAT ME, DRINK ME, and the reunion between Manson and Twiggy, no one was sure what to expect afterwards. The High End Of Low is largely visceral, but despite the initial claims of 'ballsy' all-out chaos, it's deceptively more structured and succinct than fans predicted.
    I think that's part of the record's enduring legacy, it's like the Manson album everyone asked for, but then didn't know what to do with... For years fans lamented the more organic heaviness of Antichrist Superstar or Holy Wood, and it seemed likelier that Manson would duet with Courtney Love than have Twiggy return as co-conspirator. Twiggy came back, as did the approach to songwriting, and it surprised enthusiasts and detractors in equal measure.

    Manson as storyteller is always compelling and panoramic, and although they evoke strong moods and ideas, I don't think there was a 'story' as such during The Golden Age Of Grotesque or EAT ME, DRINK ME. Whilst the former strengthened Manson's 'Arch Dandy' linguistics, and the latter was a clever stab at poetic tragedy, The High End Of Low told a sprawling, miserable tale that was believable and powerful to listen to. That's still true musically as well. I think because the album is so varied, some were quick to question its direction. But I like that. Even Antichrist Superstar has a lot of musical variants, try listening to Cryptorchid with The Reflecting God in succession and it's hard to see the cohesion, but both albums are well-defined by their structure and the listener's journey.
    The imagery and artwork are often undervalued also. I'd even posit that The High End Of Low had the best layout and composition since Holy Wood. The atmosphere is perfectly reflected in the various Delaney Bishop, Lionel Deluy, and Ashley Maile shoots, remaining some of my favourites he's ever done. Overall its a frustrating, claustrophobic, bruise-covered booklet with deliberate grammatical errors, shadows, and accompanying music videos designed to both enrapture and annoy the viewer depending on their tastes. Manson's lifelong love of cultural mischief has few better locations than during The High End Of Low.

    In summation I think the album is an enduring classic, and a more adequate example of Manson's musical range than people give credit for. Running To The Edge Of The World - to use an example - is pure grandiose, wailing, open-lunged Manson misery, and most of the album follows suit. Irrespective of the factors that contributed to its creation, and the personal issues Manson might have been experiencing surrounding its release, listening back to the record you can't deny that he fucking MEANS it throughout, and that's what gives its highs and lows all the more integrity.
    "the Serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which
    the LORD god had made
    "

    m e m e n t o m o r i . p o s t m o r t e m


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  5. #3
    DecayingSinner's Avatar
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    This album is mostly enjoyable for me. It has some of Manson's best work, and some of his worst. After Twiggy rejoined, I thought we may have a return to the sounds of Holy Wood or Antichrist, but it seemed to be a less talented continuation of EMDM upon first listen. Through more listens, the album grew on me. I still believe We're From America and Pretty as a Swastika sound like it come from the Holy Wood era. Into the Fire and 15 are some of my favorite Manson songs out of the entire catalog, and songs like Devour, Leave a Scar, Four Rusted Horses, and Wight Spider are often played.

    Then we we get to the bad.... Songs like IWTKYLTDITM always seemed overrated to me, WOW is just not that impressive, and Unkillable a Monster may be one of the worst Manson songs ever.

    Overall, I have always enjoyed the album... It's pretty solid, but I think what I learned from this is that Twiggy should probably stick to bass.



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  7. #4
    TMC's Avatar
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    I thought about The High End of Low recently and I realized that perhaps the reason why it’s my least favorite of Manson’s albums is that I always had the wrong approach.
    One of the reasons I never fully enjoyed THEOL is how cheap it feels. The photo shoots, the booklet, the production - it all feels like a b-movie, which is surprising considering the quality of Manson's previous works. It feels rushed, the songs often feel like underdeveloped demos.
    Another reason is how chaotic the album feels. Almost as if it tries to be too many things at the same time, at first I even suspected that it’s a collection of b-sides rather than new material. There are some acoustic songs inspired by blues, some bizarre experiments, some very conservative Manson songs in the spirit of Disposable Teens or The Fight Song etc.
    A few weeks ago I gave THEOL a listen for the first time in at least a year and I realized that perhaps that was the whole point.
    The whole era feels very personal, almost as if Manson wanted to invite the listener into the studio, to share his creative process with the audience. The best examples are all the photographs of Manson’s apartment with the manic writings on the wall, the fact that the order in which songs appear on the album is exactly the same as the order in which they were recorded and so on. So perhaps the album is not underdeveloped and lazy but instead was supposed to sound very raw, almost unfinished. If that's the case, the album is definitely a success.

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  9. #5
    benis Mok's Avatar
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    I wasn't big on THEOL when it first came out, but over the past few months, I've been listening to it a lot more as I've been struggling with some personal stuff myself. Initially I didn't like it at all, give or take a few songs, but the more I've listened to it the more I've come to appreciate and enjoy it.

    I find it odd the above poster didn't like the imagery, as that was one of my favorite parts of it.


    Simple, but effective I thought.

    It was supposed to be a very personal record, and the initial steps into delving more inside the mind of Brian Warner, not just Marilyn Manson. Didn't you ever notice that MAN was highlighted on the cover?


    There are a few songs that don't quite "fit" the rest of the album. That being "Arma Goddamn Motherfuckin Geddon", "We're From America", "Blank and White". These are oddly political/give off a different vibe than the rest of the songs. Maybe this is the Marilyn Manson part and the rest are Brian Warner? I'm not quite sure. ArmaGoddamn was a stance against censorship, as was Blank and White. ArmaGoddamn also felt like a self parody of himself by...himself.

    I didn't "get" EAT ME, DRINK ME until I felt what Manson was trying to say in it. When I experienced my first heartbreak, I could finally feel the record and I think it meant for a much more personal experience myself. Lately, I've been in those lows again and I feel THEOL more than ever before.

    As for the songs, I've always loved "Devour" even when I wasn't quite high on the record. That's a great opener and imo picks right up where EMDM the song left off.

    To me..all of these songs feel like his honest thoughts at the time.
    "Everyone will come, everyone will come to my funeral to make sure that I stay dead."
    "Next time I won't hesitate to kill to protect what I believe in."
    "See a new beginning rise behind the sun. We could never catch up as fast as we run."
    "I had a dream, this one I feel the need to mention. I was happy for a while and I stopped being scared and ashamed to say what's on my mind. But you thought I'd change after a while and said you better treat me different or else...Or else seems like a stupid fucking thing to say to someone like me."

    If you read his interviews around that time..I dunno, it just feels like he meant every word on this album. Like when "WOW" was designed to be emotionless and hollow. Something we hadn't really seen since ACSS. It's just...I don't know how to put it into words...It's very just "fuck this, I'm done. Fuck you." if that makes sense.

    "I Want to Kill You Like They Do in the Movies" to me embodies the entire message/feeling of the album. And honestly, I think that song is a damn masterpiece. Though I've always liked that song.

    I dunno the point I'm trying to make lol...It all sounded better in my head.
    Last edited by Mok; 07-08-2016 at 07:25 PM.

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  11. #6

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    I've grown extremely fond of THEOL over the years. I couldn't relate to it when it was first released, but then life happened and living through very similar circumstances as portrayed on the album helped me to appreciate it so much more. I think it's one of his best albums and it's one of my personal favorites. I think part of the reason many people didn't like it at first was because they had the wrong impression on it going in. This is partly due to Manson and Twiggy describing the album in interviews very poorly. I believe Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals were referenced as what the album was like. This possibly misled some fans into expecting something super heavy and industrial or glam musically, and offensive, religious, social commentary-laced lyrics. It's obvious now in retrospect that is not what Manson meant at all when he made some vague comparison to Antichrist Superstar. He meant it in the mood and process of development. The chaos and depression and insanity mimicked maybe some of went on in New Orleans during the Antichrist sessions. It wasn't similar at all in concept...it was similar in that it screams emotion and feelings of hate and depression...horrid depression...where you can't feel anything...and that's when your house becomes a mess and you scratch lyrics onto your walls and tape bags of cocaine labeled "plan b" to the walls. Yes, it is indeed similar to Antichrist in those ways. Absolute mental chaos.

    Someone described this album as aging like fine wine. I couldn't agree more. THEOL features a lot of diversity musically. You have short catchy heavy songs like Pretty as an S, political songs like Blank and White and We're From America (either of which could have easily been on Holy Wood or Antichrist in my opinion), you've got beautiful dramatic songs like Devour (which reminds me a lot Bowie), there are acoustic tracks like Four Rusted Horses, and weird experimental tracks like WOW (which could be on MA IMO). Everyone expected Arma...Geddon to be some super heavy Angel with Scabbed Wings type of song based on it's title and on the description Manson gave about the albums similarity to Antichrist. I still remember this. People talking all excited thinking the song would be something very different than what it was. They shouldn't have gotten their hopes up, there was no reason to think that. It was all in their minds. Armageddon is one of my favorite Manson tracks. It's so catchy and reckless. The lyrics just bleed "fuck it, I'm done, burn it all down, I don't give a shit" mentality. I loved hearing him explain the story behind it in the special interview track by track commentary. IWKYLTDITM is another phenomenal song. It reminds me of The Doors' The End. It's atmospheric and hypnotic.

    There are a few weak tracks on the album. I think WOW is one of them. It's still a fun and weird experimental track, but the lyrics aren't the greatest. And despite everyone's love of Four Rusted Horses, it is just too repeatative for me. These are minor issues. The album as a whole is just stellar!

    The album will always be the "sequel to EMDM" for me. Maybe that is part of why I love it so much, and also maybe why some fans hate it. Everyone tends to hate those two albums. I loved EMDM from the moment it came out and it helped me through a very hard time. THEOL is superior, I think. It's so much darker and more complete of an idea and story. It's more fulfilling. I love the little things about the album. The effort Manson put into it was stupendous. Just tidbits like cutting Devour off early and the censoring Blank and White. It really added to the points those songs made.

    One can't help but listen to it and think of Evan Rachel Wood and Manson's relationship at the time. That is, if the listener read any of the interviews or knows anything about that period and the history there... it's just so obvious to me that it's the sequel to EMDM and it's the follow up to what is going on in his/their toxic bonnie and clyde relationship at the time.

    I thought where EMDM had a sort of question mark of an ending. We don't really know what will happen from here....sort of feeling once the title track EMDM is played... It leaves you wondering. The High End of Low leaves no questions unanswered. The Bonnie and Clyde relationship is over and Manson is miserable and deeply hurt, but there is also a strength there because he came to terms with it and is not in denial. He knows it's done and time to movie on....get born again...which is what happened subsequently on Born Villain.

    This little chunk of Manson history is an important one. Mainstream media and history books will report this as being a dark time in Manson's life and say that the albums around this point were bad and it was just all around a low point in his career. While there may be some truth in some of those statements, I feel like it's just so wrong at the same time. Unless you're a fan and lived through it and been to the shows and experienced the whole thing right there with him, people won't remember it right. It was some exceptionally amazing music and a fun time to be a Manson fan. His shows WERE reckless.... It felt like what I'd imagine it must have been like around the Antichrist tours. It was just crazy and chaotic and you didn't know what was going to happen next. Manson was drunk a lot, and so was I, and there was this free spirit, angsty, not give a fuck attitude that I miss.

    I'd love to go back to 2009. Or 2007. Had some good times and kind of went through the same thing as Manson. (It's crazy...so similar that I even had an ex steal my cats and almost called a lawyer! Just like what allegedly happened to Lily White). In the middle of such mental extremes and chaos, fun things happen. You feel depressed, but you stop giving a shit if you live or die or go to jail so you take more chances and do risky things and meet cool people.... I miss those years sometimes. I think they were all around a better era musically, thematically, stage show and performance, lyrically, attitude, etc... all around i think they were just better eras than Born Villain or The Pale Emperor.

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  13. #7
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    It's encouraging to see that people now understand more fluently Manson's approach for the whole project, which yes, was pretty much 'Fuck this'.
    Someone used the word 'reckless', and that's very different from 'careless'. I don't think The High End Of Low was ever a haphazard project, Manson clearly knew what he wanted to achieve, like the audio form of a suicide note, or one of those videos people make before doing a killing spree.

    Another important aspect often overlooked is Manson's weariness with Interscope and the desire to be released from his record label. Even the label itself was a different entity than when he originally signed, with Nothing dissolved, and a completely different group of people working with or around him.
    I think TMC has some astute observations, namely the intentionally chaotic production, and that Manson and Twiggy had the balls between them to release the record and get away with it. The thing is (and this is where I trusted Manson's judgement), that even being deliberately manic, it still doesn't ever sound directionless or boring, or even phoned-in. Unkillable Monster might be the only 'painting by numbers' track on the record, and whilst I don't revisit it often, there's still the beautiful lyric "Sometimes I dream I'm an exterminating angel, a travelling executioner from heaven, sent to give you the prettiest death I know".

    Dipp used the word 'honesty', which is another important element, Manson holds nothing back, and its quite revealing that - more so than many of his other records - people are consistently able to identify and apply the frequent turns of phrase on the album to his own story and their personal experiences. Even with the perpetual wordplay on The Golden Age Of Grotesque, or the poetic energy on EAT ME, DRINK ME, I don't think there are solid, emotive phrases on those albums where you go 'Yes, this exactly mirrors my own feelings'. Hearing him literally screaming "Let me show you where it hurts", "You can't take this from me", or "It's better to push something when it's slipping than to risk being dragged down" displays a raw emotion that - for me at least - taps into the human condition exquisitely, and without any unnecessary hyperbole.
    "the Serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which
    the LORD god had made
    "

    m e m e n t o m o r i . p o s t m o r t e m


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    Oh, The High End Of Low, how much I love thee...

    To begin with, I feel it is a tremendously underrated album, mostly by fans. I never got why all the hate it received back at the time of its release. The only thing that has always bothered me is undoubtely the mistakes you can find on the lyric booklet.

    I remember how I resisted to listen to the leaked material; and pretty much it feels like MM's most personal moment; like a continuation from where Eat me Drink Me left, but with the fierce of Twiggy's return (a hot topic at the time within this community). Devour, Four Rusted Horses, Running to the edge of the world, Into the fire, the alternate version of Leave a Scar... all seem still pretty fresh and timeless every time I hear 'em.

    Maybe it's because I was living a similar emotional rollercoaster at the time; maybe it was the whole "OMG Twiggy's back!!1!" hype; maybe it's because it is truly a hidden gem from the band; but THEOL has always been (along with The Pale Emperor) the best post-trypthic MM albums, for me.

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    I'd love to go back to 2009. Or 2007. Had some good times and kind of went through the same thing as Manson. (It's crazy...so similar that I even had an ex steal my cats and almost called a lawyer! Just like what allegedly happened to Lily White). In the middle of such mental extremes and chaos, fun things happen. You feel depressed, but you stop giving a shit if you live or die or go to jail so you take more chances and do risky things and meet cool people.... I miss those years sometimes. I think they were all around a better era musically, thematically, stage show and performance, lyrically, attitude, etc... all around i think they were just better eras than Born Villain or The Pale Emperor.[/QUOTE]

    TOTALLY AGREE
    Chillin' Killin'

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    I can't say I think it's among their best, as it comes across a bit scattershot to me, but I can't disagree that it's a very honest album, which works quite well for it most of the time. It does, however, have what are for me a few of the worst songs in Manson's entire catalog - Wow, Unkillable Monster, and 15. They're honest, but poorly executed and feel as though they could have used a bit more time in the oven or just scrapped entirely. Which is sad, given that the album also contains a handful of songs which execute that honesty almost flawlessly - Devour, Four Rusted Horses, Running to the Edge of the World, Wight Spider (Acoustic), and Into the Fire.

    It also has I Have to Look Up Just to See Hell, which is just a song I would put up with the very best of their catalog.

    And just as a bonus it has We're From America, which almost feels like it could have been on Holywood.

    Not their best, but an album that could have been up there with their best with a bit more attention.

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