All Writing & Content © Nick Kushner Unless Noted Otherwise
Click thumbnails above for each influence on The High End Of Low era.
SPIN: What's up with your album's title, The High End of Low?
I went through a tough period over Christmas, during which I learned the difference between love and dependence, and the difference between weakness and desire. And it made a big difference in my life.
So I came back [to the studio] on January 2, and I saw my only friends, which at this point is the band, and everyone asked me, "How're you doing?" And I said, "Well, I'm at the high end of low." And automatically I knew that that's what the record was going to be called.
SPIN : Explain.
It really defines the record, which is about falling from grace and trying to fit in and be accepted as a mortal or as a normal person when people don't see you as that. It's also about giving up what you are to prove that you love somebody more than you love yourself. When you get to that point you're unlovable. And for me, halfway through the record, you can hear it. It went from despair to anger, it's like passing through the stages of destruction and reconstruction.
Set to become a staple in the pantheon of every fan’s collection, the seventh studio album released by Marilyn Manson (entitled The High End of Low) will undoubtedly resonate with many for its intensity, raw emotion and spine-tingling vocal delivery all backed by a hellish sonic landscape and featuring Manson’s characteristically poignant observations of life, love, and loss.
However, the most noticeable and reoccurring aspect integral to the core of Marilyn Manson is dichotomy; and to this end The High End of Low is no exception, with virtually every conceivable facet of the album cover being a testament to Manson's dichotomous history.
Most noticeably the title itself is dichotomous, in that it sets the opposition of high and low. Beyond this however, Manson is evoking a cinematic legend by both the title of his album as well as the arrangement of the title’s lettering.
Acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa's "Tengoku to Jigoku" – or "High and Low" as it appears titled in English editions of the film - is noticeably an influence.
|The cover for Criterion Collection’s re-release of High and Low and its director, Akira Kurosawa.|
Besides the analogousness of their titles, there are nearly identical stylistic similarities in the lettering between the cover of the Criterion Collection’s re-release of the film and Manson’s album, strengthening the non-coincidental nature of this occurrence.
|A comparison image of the lettering between Kurosawa’s High and Low (left) and Marilyn Manson’s The High End of Low (right).|
The parallels extend further. While the film’s English title is High and Low, the literal translation of Tengoku to Jigoku would be Heaven and Hell. This literal title is noticeably at play on the album cover, which is heavily saturated in blues and reds – two colours traditionally associated with the divine and the infernal. Also, in Hindu mythology blue is consistently used to denote divinity, as it is seen as the colour of the infinite (the seemingly endless sky and ocean, for example).
|The blue skinned Hindu deities, Krishna and Kali ; a physical characteristic which is symbolic of godhood and enlightenment. Another correlation to the blue skinned Manson throughout the album artwork which lends itself to interpretation beyond the old adage of "feeling blue" as representative of depression. As the album's close represents Manson's ultimate redemption after "falling from grace" he is crowning himself with a red halo as inversion to the traditional Christian variant. Illustrative of 'reigning in Hell', so to speak.|
Forbidden in heaven and useless in hell
|The newly ascended Manson with blue skin and being self-christened with an inverted red Antichrist halo|
Returning to the film, the dichotomous nature of High and Low is at work on a number of levels, so it should come as no surprise that the film had a notable influence on Manson. The most evident example of dichotomy in the film (apart from the title) may be the fact that the film is largely based around two primary storylines, which come together as one in the final scene of the film:
1st Storyline: Gondo is a businessman who is confronted with a moral dilemma that he must face when a child ends up kidnapped and a large sum of money is demanded as a ransom. The problem is, Gondo requires the money in order for him to stay in business. This creates a textbook ethical dilemma -- does one choose to continue their life of affluence and luxury at the cost of being a shrewd businessman and a cold human being, or does one sacrifice everything he can for the benefit of others?
2nd Storyline: Details the exploits of the kidnapper, as he drugs and kills his accomplices, plays cat and mouse with the detective and is eventually captured and arrested.
It is at this point in the film that the two storylines become one, and Gondo and the kidnapper meet face to face. We learn that the kidnapper is a miserable medical intern of a local hospital, fueled by a burning hatred of the class differences between them. While Gondo had lived a comfortable life high atop a hill in an inviting mansion, the kidnapper had been living down at the bottom of the hill in the hellish squalor of a small apartment, consumed by blazing heat and surrounded by drugs and disorder. This is the High and Low which the film's title alludes to.
|Right ; Manson's face in the grid - the final shot in the album artwork for The High End of Low.|
In this final scene, Gondo and the kidnapper sit on opposing sides of the screen, with the reflection of each other continually shown in the grid; this is a subtle play on the dichotomous undertones of the film, and the capacity for each man to become the other. While Gondo is shown as calm and nearly emotionless, the kidnapper is Gondo's opposite. Furthermore, Gondo will continue to live, whereas the kidnapper is led off to his death. High and Low's dichotomous elements are preserved until the very end.
It's worth mentioning that the last photo in The High End of Low album artwork parallels High and Low's final scene, with Manson's face within the grid.
While the grid in the album artwork can be said to be at least partially a nod to the grid in High and Low, there exists another link even more closely related to the album artwork that must be mentioned:
|Peter Murphy of Bauhaus performing Bela Lugosi's Dead --a song which Manson has openly admired as the gothic anthem (and to which he mentioned while discussing creating a new modern gothic anthem (If I Was Your Vampire))-- in the opening scenes of The Hunger, another film which Manson has expressed admiration for.|
An additional possible influence on the album title may be related to one of Manson's greatest artistic inspirations: David Bowie. Bowie released a masterpiece in 1977 by the name of Low. If Manson's title is at least partially a nod to Bowie's album, it would not be completely unfounded, nor even would it be the first reference to Low; one track in particular on Mechanical Animals –"The Speed of Pain" - appropriates its title from one of Bowie’s on Low – "The Speed of Life".
Moving onwards to religious content. Apart from the religious context of Tengoku to Jigoku's literal translation being Heaven and Hell, a shirt was offered at Manson's web store as an exclusive item limited to those who preordered the album. It depicts a slightly altered cover album, with the image manipulated to depict a crown of thorns above Manson’s head. The shirt is accordingly called the "Neon Christ", and is reminiscent of an earlier 1997 shirt design in that sense.
I'd die for your sins / if you don't kill me while I'm trying, baby
|Left; limited edition "Neon Christ" t-shirt, with the crown of thorns upon Manson's head. Right; another, Veronica's Veil-like shirt titled "Blurry Thorns."|
|Left ; Traditional depiction of the Virgin Mary and the Christ child. Right ; one of the numerous purported 'authentic' bleeding Mary statues said to be crying tears of blood for the sins of the world. This particular neon Mary resides at the Vietnamese Catholic Martyrs Church in Sacramento, California. Consider the religious context of the lyrics in Devour, "You're not crying, this is blood all over me".|
|Left; 'Antichrist Svperstar' era t-shirt, circa 1997, depicting Manson with a similar neon halo, stressing his artificial, corrupted nature (for more see our Imitation of Christ article in The Occult section), the back actually bearing a likewise altered Christogram. Right; a similar depiction from the same shooting.|
This theme can be extrapolated, as Manson has the neon rope above his head like a mock-halo, conferring the status of divinity or enlightenment which is so often shown in religious artworks, albeit this time with a slightly sinister twist. As opposed to a golden halo, his is red. Much like Manson inversing the traditional position of the hands in his portrayal as the Baphomet, we once again have Manson assuming a divine posture, but inverting its nature and setting himself up as an anti-Christ, adversary, and role-villain.
One final possible religious connection may be in the name Marilyn Manson itself, or more specifically in how it has been consistently shown on all things relating to The High End of Low. One can observe in these graphics that the most standout letters of Marilyn Manson’s name spell out MAN. This could be an acknowledgment of the biblical fall of man, or it could also refer to "The Son of Man", the cosmic judge of whom Jesus spoke of appearing towards the end times, to judge the living and the dead. These two possible biblical interpretations notably brings to surface the dichotomy between man and his maker, those on high and those on low, and their relation between each other. A more secular interpretation could be that it is highlighting the more personal, human quality of the album.
With all of this taken into consideration, "The High End of Low" could be taken as an unashamed admission of who one is; a full and unapologetic acknowledgment of the events that have transpired; someone who is derogatorily considered low but who exceeds them in all their endeavors, thus rising to be the high end of low.
Fallen fallen fallen from grace, now for you
I identify with the villain, Lucifer, which is the fallen angel. He's represented by light.
He talks of feeling like Lucifer being banished from heaven, of falling from grace. "When you give up the wings that had come to define you in order to fit in and become loved by someone, then you ultimately stop being who you are and you lose everything. Ultimately, that's what I was going through in my life,", he says.
Not letting you win won't satisfy me. I'll teach you about loss.
Since the beginning of Marilyn Manson numbers have played an integral role in the more subtle aspects of each record, unifying grand themes and concepts through the reoccurrence and significance of certain numbers. The fifteenth and final track off The High End of Low is one of the most noticeable reemergence of the number fifteen since its overwhelming presence within the era of Mechanical Animals.
15 is built upon a hauntingly ethereal landscape, where vulnerabilities and prior tribulations are discarded in favour of personal strength, transformation and the uncompromising desire to move forward. The rapid succession of death and rebirth within the lyrics "Yesterday everything I thought I believed in died/but today is my birthday" sets the tone for the entire song; that being an affirmation of hope and resolution, and a vow to never compromise oneself regardless of the odds. As so succinctly and honestly expressed, "This time I won't hesitate to kill to protect what I believe in".
The final words of the album are so self-affirming, they border on vengeance and retribution -- "Not letting you win won't satisfy me/I'll teach you about loss".
Noisecreep : How much did your reunion with bassist Twiggy Ramirez spark the creativity on this record?"
Marilyn Manson : "It's about me realizing the importance of loss, I even say, 'I am going to teach you about loss'".
This notion of not merely being content with overcoming one’s enemy, but taking the extra measures required to make sure they painfully understand the full repercussions of their actions and the true significance of loss may set off alarms for cinema fans, as it is the central theme of the film Cape Fear.
Cape Fear has been made into a movie on two notable occasions; once in 1962, and a beautifully executed remake in 1991. While some minor differences are apparent, both are centered on this concept of retribution. As the 1991 version is more relevant to our discussion, we shall focus on it.
In the 1991 adaptation by Martin Scorsese, a former public defender by the name of Sam Bowden is subjected to threats and harassment by a rapist (and ex-client) named Max Cady, who is seeking vengeance against Bowden for his intentionally withholding a critical piece of evidence which would have led to an acquittal for Max.
Max confronts Bowden shortly after being released from prison and tells him, "you’re gonna learn about loss". It is this statement which the entire film revolves around -- the concept of one man’s loss as retribution for perceived wrong doings (in the 1991 edition this is reinforced through Max’s devout religious beliefs, wherein he uses scripture to validate his pursuit of divine retribution). The line, "you’re gonna learn about loss" comes up on several occasions, and Bowden fixates on it, full well knowing the destructive potential that Max possesses.
Towards the climax of the film, Max delivers a powerful speech invoking Dante (whom Manson has referenced on several occasions, as well as including an illustration based upon Dante’s Divine Comedy in The Long Hard Road Out of Hell), and tries to deliver what he sees as divine justice for being imprisoned:
Max Cady: I'm Virgil and I'm guidin' you through the gates of Hell. We are now in the Ninth Circle, the Circle of Traitors. Traitors to country! Traitors to fellow man! Traitors to GOD! You, sir, are charged with betrayin' the principles of all three! Quote for me the American Bar Association's Rules of Professional Conduct, Canon Seven.
Sam Bowden: "A lawyer should represent his client..."
Max Cady: "Should ZEALOUSLY represent his client within the bounds of the law." I find you guilty, counselor! Guilty of betrayin' your fellow man! Guilty of betrayin' your country and abrogatin' your oath! Guilty of judgin' me and sellin' me out! With the power vested in me by the kingdom of God, I sentence you to the Ninth Circle of Hell! Now you will learn about loss! Loss of freedom! Loss of humanity! Now you and I will truly be the same...
Click for a short excerpt from 1991's Cape Fear, which includes the "Now you will learn about loss!" speech, and paralleling Manson's affirmation of a newfound position of strength.
For more in regard to Manson's usage of the number 15 and numerology, see the 15 article The NACHTKABARETT.
"You think the record's honest, I think the record could just as easily be looked at as a lie...because it's so focused where my head was on cinema. It's partly the fact that I almost gave up music and tried to focus all my energy on making a film. I tend to surround myself with, my friends are either actors or directors, or people involved in that, and it becomes a question, am I acting on the record? Am I directing? And if I'm acting, it's so method acting you can't even understand which person is real -- the character or the actor? It really becomes confusing. I don't even try and question it.
"Everything is acting. The new record is very centered around movies. I say on it, 'I want to kill you like they do in the movies'. "Am I directing, acting or watching? Who cares. The point is that life for me is not going to be the way it is for everyone else. I have a fog machine and movie lights in my bedroom."
Marilyn Manson has always had a penchant for the cinematic. The very name Marilyn Manson can be broken down as a composite of Marilyn Monroe (one of the world's most recognizable actresses) and Charles Manson (who among other things had a promising actress by the name of Sharon Tate murdered and taken from her husband - director Roman Polanski). But Manson's love of celluloid extends well beyond his namesake. From the initial intention of transferring Holy Wood to the silver screen, to the countless dozens of films evoked, lyrically referenced and adapted into his artwork and albums over the years, to the announcement of Phantasmagoria, it is evident that film has always been a medium that Manson has held a vested interest in. Consider also his companion piece to The Golden Age of Grotesque, the short film Doppelherz, wherein Manson makes a poignant metaphor about the parallel between his life and cinema.
"As you are listening,
I want you to know that you are nothing but a screen that
I project my images of suffering, sorrow, pain, sex and the
Brief glimmer of happiness I find in the misery of those who are sitting in the theater of which this screen exists."
While every Manson album has at least partially been influenced by cinema (largely in the samples used and references evoked), never has this been so prevalent as within The High End of Low.
The cinematic quality to the album has been mentioned both directly by Manson himself, as well as being at the forefront of much of the album artwork (in which Manson is shown in a series of celluloid cells) the CD itself (which is designed like a film reel) and in the lyrical content. It is quite heavily referenced in the track "I Want to Kill You Like They Do in the Movies":
I'll pretend and
Cut, cut, cut, cut"
"I'm a strip strip strip and
I flicker flick flick flick
A flicker of celluloid"
"I was only acting, baby
Only acting, baby
You were only acting, baby
"I want to kill you like they do in the movies
But don't worry there's another one just like you, standing in line"
Yet still there are more references to film within the song,
"I wanna fuck you like a foreign film
and there's no subtitles to get you through this"
"You're just what I projected"
"I hear the afterlife is poorly scored"
As another filmic reference, the red/blue duality in the era's imagery is reminiscent of the poster for the French 2007 film 'Inside' (À l'Intérieur) with
Béatrice Dalle (as was Trouble Every Day) which Manson quoted as his favorite movie of the moment in his recent interview with Gaspar Noé.
Further references to celluloid may be found in the opening lyrics of Into the Fire...
"This is the film
Close to the third act"
...and in an indirect manner, the alternate take of Four Rusted Horses is appropriately named "Four Rusted Horses (Opening Titles Version)", which has thus far been played as the opener during the 2009 High End of Low tour dates.
But that damage is part of it, and the song "I Want to Kill You Like They Do in The Movies" is about my fantasies. I have fantasies every day about smashing her skull in with a sledgehammer.
|Screenshots of Evan Rachel Wood in the film "The Life Before Her Eyes"; a story which narrates events that took place fifteen years ago, in which Diana (Evan Rachel Wood) becomes the untimely causality of a school shooting.|
...I Want To Kill You Like They Do In The Movies, a song explicitly about and recorded on the day it was reported he had broken up with Wood...
|Still frames from "Running To The Edge Of The World" revealed on Manson's Myspace prior to the video's release.|
Concerning the video for "I Want To Kill You...", I filmed it with a Brittish actress and I also directed something brutal, and which will probably never be released for legal reasons with my ex girlfriend Evan Rachel Wood. For the time being I'm still sure of nothing. It's a violent portrait I made in only one shot. The spectator will have to decide by himself, after seeing it, of the way he's feeling the thing. I watched it and it's very disturbing as it represents an "emotional insight" of our relationship. My house became a sort of perpetual shooting and I'm very happy of all I've been able to capture.
Another indirect reference to cinema can be found in the second track "Pretty as a Swastika", where the title serves as a veiled reference to Leni Riefenstahl, a prominent director who is most notable for her film The Triumph of the Will (for more on this subject, click here).
Also noteworthy is that the 2007-2008 Rape of the World tour performances of The Dope Show have featured cameras/projectors which Manson sings to as though they are characters.
"I understand the persona thing... At some point I think I lost track of who I was before I made this record, and that's a really big problem. It's not as simple as if you're just someone who has one identity, then OK, you have an identity crisis. If you're someone who has two, one is for strangers and people you don't know, and also the people you do know, and the other one is only for the people that you know personally. Then, at that point, you don't know who you are. That's almost what destroyed me because I didn't know what to be. I didn't know which one to be.
"What I realized was, I'm all of it. I can't be described as one or the other. It can't be on stage or off stage, it can't be Brian Warner or Marilyn Manson, it's all of it. It's just everything. It's one big movie. There's parts of it that are stupid and boring, there's parts of it that are exciting, pornographic and violent, there are parts of it that are dramatic and heartwarming, there's all of that. It's just a movie, and that's the only way I can deal with it."
"I wrote all the lyrics on the wall of my room. It wasn't to be decorative, it was one of those things, like it's the last thing that someone sees before they put them somewhere else. I think it looks good. And if anyone wants to come into this room and fornicate with me, I think they are a keeper... and when I say keeper, I mean kidnapping."
One of the most prominent things displayed in the first online promotional image for The High End of Low as well as its album booklet are the large scrawling letters in Manson's bedroom which read "EXIT NOW. UNSAVED CHANGES WILL BE LOST." This is quite likely a reference to the 2007 film, The Nines, which draws its title from the prevalence and reoccurence of the number within the film.
In the first of three acts, our protagonist Gary finds himself troubled by the consistent reoccurrence of the number nine in his life which he cannot reconcile as coincidental; he also begins to find things --such as messages written by himself-- that he is certain he never wrote. He is also shown early on driving in his car with two other figures in his likeness in the backseat. After a series of further non-coincidences Gary finally confronts a close friend named Margarett who he suspects of understanding more:
Margaret: Everything is what it is. But you're not who you think you are.
Gary: Okay, then. Who am I?
Margaret: You're a multi-dimensional being of vast, almost infinite power. You created this world on a whim, and decided to stick around to see how it turned out. You, this body you're in, is just one of your incarnations. Avatars. Call you what you will.
Gary: Are you saying I'm God?
Margaret: Technically, no. If God is a ten -- a theoretical ultimate, that-which-no-greater-can-be-imagined -- you're more of a nine.
Gary: So what are you?
Margaret: Humans are sevens. Monkeys are sixes.
The second act of the film concludes with the protagonist (this time named Gavin) having an epiphany, wherein he looks upwards only to notice the number nine floating above his head (and holding true to Margaret's words, all of the humans are shown as sevens). Eventually the image pulls back to reveal itself as being within a screen. We then get the following message, which pops up like a computer dialogue box.
|Contrast with a closeup of what is scrawled on Manson's bedroom walls|
Another element to the film that parallels Marilyn Manson is its penchant for number play. The film is told in three acts. Each act has three principal characters. These three characters are always similar in name:
Their appearance is always quite similar as it is revealed that they are coexisting within the construct of a parallel universe. The sum of the three characters in all their incarnations is notably nine. Nine also appears frequently in dice rolls, newspapers, dialogue, written messages, in children's toys and even as giant typography identifying status. Furthermore, The Nines seems to be a modern presentation of philosopher Leibniz's view that the world we are living in could only be the best of all possible worlds. In fact, in the first act Gary is shown trying to read Candide (a work by Voltaire which largely satirizes this view of Leibniz).
Topically, two of the major themes of the film which parallel The High End of Low are the reoccurrence of loss (be it of friends, relationships or Gabriel's mortality in the third act), along with the opportunity for great transformation and change -- both subjects which are prevalent in The High End of Low.
Contained within the album artwork -in Manson's bedroom- down from the makeshift double cross and below 'EXIT NOW. UNSAVED CHANGES WILL BE LOST' is the instruction to 'BURN ALL WOODEN GODS', a biblical reference taken from the Deuterocanonical book of the Old Testament, the Book of Baruch. The portion of text to which Manson is referring to may be located in the sixth chapter; a chapter that is discluded from some bibles, but finds its inclusion in a lot of the revered bibles which the Catholic and Orthodox sects fancy. This makeshift sixth chapter is otherwise known as The Letter of Jeremiah, and tradition dictates that Jeremiah was the close friend and personal secretary of Baruch. The text was allegedly written for the exiles that were taken captive by Babylon, with careful instruction to maintain their devotion to the LORD, and to condemn all of the "wooden gods" (figures of other deities that were carved by hand) which Jeremiah regarded as nothing more than idolatry.
When fire breaks out in the temple of these wooden gods plated with silver and gold, the priests flee to safety but their gods are burnt with the beams in the midst of the flames.
But these wooden objects can in no way compare with them, that is why it must not be either believed or said that these are gods, since they are powerless to administer justice or benefit anyone in any way. Since you know they are not gods, have no fear of them.
Again these wooden gods may be compared to a thornbush in a garden where any bird can perch, or to a corpse thrown into a dark place. You know by the purple and scarlet robes rotting on them that they are not gods.
|Left; "Jeremiah with the Face of Michelangelo", Sistine Chapel. Right; engraving by Gustave Doré, of Jeremiah dictating his prophecies to Baruch.|
The mantra is also reminiscent of Carl Sandburg's poem "Manufactured Gods", from chapter III of 'Smoke and Steel' from 1922, which refers to same passage :
12. Manufactured Gods
THEY put up big wooden gods.
Then they burned the big wooden gods
And put up brass gods and
Changing their minds suddenly
Knocked down the brass gods and put up
A doughface god with gold earrings.
The poor mutts, the pathetic slant heads,
They didn’t know a little tin god
Is as good as anything in the line of gods
Nor how a little tin god answers prayer
And makes rain and brings luck
The same as a big wooden god or a brass
God or a doughface god with golden
|Left; the double cross on the wall of Manson's bedroom which appears on several shots during the era, including some in the artwork.
Right; Manson with the Celebritarian ring he has also been seen wearing at an album signing for The High End of Low.
" The record is ultimately about somebody who is falling from grace, [...] and then you want to fit back in and you feel like, maybe I should give up my wings. Maybe I should give up who I am and then I'll fit in. And then you find yourself completely unlovable. You're worthless above and below and that's where I was in the record towards the end of the record. "
One cannot mention the album's title "The High End Of Low" without thinking of the Double Cross Manson started to use prominently in 2005, the perfect illustration of balance above/below, high/low present in Manson's whole work and particularly in this album, and which resurfaced in several designs and allusions during the era, as detailed on our article "Arma...Geddon", along with other elements and concepts from the Celebritarian Era. Celebritarianism also takes an increasing part in this new era, on a rougher and more personal level, as violence and death on camera litterally become an entertainment in themselves, as is screened in the "Running To The Edge Of The World" video...
Publicly unveiled for the first time in The High End of Low booklet, Manson can be seen bearing a new tattoo, known as the "Heart of Tursas" (derrived from the Finnish word "tursaansydän"), Tursas being a creature from Finnish mythology mentioned several times in Kalevala. Two of his variant Finish names: 'Iku-Turso' (the eternal octopus)and 'Meritursas' (ink fish/octopus) reflect its general nature of being an altogether malevolent and violent sea monster. Finnish mythology also attributes him as a father of diseases, who could spit deadly projectiles of his filth and pestilence. According to varying sources, Tursas may or may not have been associated as a god of war.
The Heart of Tursas / tursaansydän is an ancient symbol of good fortune and meant to repel curses and other vexations. It dates back to prehistoric times and generally takes the shape of four overlapping symbols (commonly four arrows or four squares), which create a swastika within its center.
It has been suggested that the symbol is meant to indictate a constant state of movement and rotation as it spins around like the fabled hammer of thunder gods such as Thor. Others take it at literal etymological value and believe it to be the heart of Tursas -- the very lifeforce of the divinity himself.
As for the swastika -which is integrated into all depictions of the Heart of Tursa- It should come as no surprise that Manson has held a longstanding fascination with the ideals, historical execution and parallels between the seeming dichotomy of fascism and expressionism; ripping apart the televangelists of America each and every time he steps up to the podium. The now permanent evocation of the swastika upon his body may be a pronounced statement of the fascism & expressionism duality of which he has been illuminating for well over a decade.This is beautifully hinted at in the juxtaposition of the American flag with the SS helmet Manson is wearing in the photograph.
Manson's Antichrist Svperstar Shock Symbol and Eliphas Lévi's Baphomet pentagram. The surrounding Hebrew letters, which Manson styled after Levi's original pentragram, spells 'Leviathan' who is the sea-faring incarnation of Satan in the Old Testament of the Bible ; the serpent of the deep.
As such, the connection of the Leviathan to the mythical sea monster symbolized by the Heart of Tursas is no large stretch of association and thus another representation of Manson's embodiment as The Antichrist.
Left;"Vitruvian Antichrist" diagram from the eponymous album's interior artwork, also surrounded by the Hebrew letters spelling 'Leviathan'. Right; "Destruction of Leviathan", 1865 engraving by Gustave Doré. For more on Manson's Satanic beasts and Antichrist incarnations through the band's eras visit The Third and Final Beast on The NACHTKABARETT.
And just as Manson has set bibles and flags alight and has torn out pages from the Bible onstage, this may be yet another reminder that the symbols are by themselves harmless and not capable of any sort of evil. Malevolence remains solely the province of mankind.
For more in regard to Manson's flirtations with fascist imagery, see the "Degenerate" Art & Fascism section of The NACHTKABARETT.
Marilyn Manson's seventh studio album is more diary than a record. Each track is on the album in the order in which it was written and recorded - taking in the beginning of the end of his relationship with Wood, his subsequent period alone and his reappearance on the other side.
Exploring themes of love, loss, destruction and reconstruction, The High End of Low is undoubtedly one of Manson's most powerful and transformative albums. And as the tracklisting reflects the order in which the album was written, when we talk about the inception of The High End of Low, we are in essence talking about the emergence of the first track --Devour-- and the circumstances surrounding its birth. The following are excerpts, quotes and interviews outlining the motivations and cathartic inspirations which were the ultimate catalyst for The High End of Low to be composed.
...when I became his roommate my bedroom was the blood-covered room on the "Eat Me, Drink Me" album cover. The last day I was his roommate was in a different house, my room covered in real blood - none of it my own - and I was driven to an emergency room for the first time in my life.
Then he wrote this song.
The first written for the new album, but certainly not the last casualty suffered in its creation.
Manson briefly touched on the series of events which inspired the track in his June 2009 interview with Revolver,
It's kind of a murder-suicide story based on the reality of my life that day. The record maybe saved me, and the person I would have killed also. If somebody says they want to be with you until they die, I take that kind of seriously. It became a song...luckily.
The end of his relationship with Evan Rachel Wood marked an especially difficult time for Manson,
I sing about it on "Into the Fire." I say, "If you want to hit bottom, don't bother trying to take me with you." My lowest point was Christmas Day 2008, because I didn't speak to my family. My walls were covered in scrawlings of the lyrics and cocaine bags nailed to the wall. And I did have an experience where I was struggling to deal with being alone and being forsaken and being betrayed by putting your trust in one person, and making the mistake of that being the wrong person. And that's a mistake that everyone can relate to. I made the mistake of trying to, desperately, grasp on and save that and own it. And every time I called her that day -- I called 158 times -- I took a razorblade and I cut myself on my face or on my hands.
The period of time he spent alone and isolated as everything was dissolving around him became quite extensive,
I spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve and then my birthday entirely alone, except for [his cat] Lily," he says. "Everyone was calling me because it was the holidays. But I didn't even speak to my parents.
Manson spoke candidly of his feelings of abandonment and of being cast aside,
He talks of feeling like Lucifer being banished from heaven, of falling from grace.”When you give up the wings that had come to define you in order to fit in and become loved by someone, then you ultimately stop being who you are and you lose everything. Ultimately, that's what I was going through in my life," he says. "I've made records in the past about transformation but this was much more of a dramatic change for me that I wanted to tell other people.
Though testing, the period of isolation served as a transformative one for Manson
It became a real period that I felt I had to go through - like something in the Bible when they go out into the wilderness and fast. So I started writing to address what I was going through at the time.
All of these events served as a catalyst for The High End of Low -- and by Manson's own admission, the man who sings at the start of the album, "And I'll love you, if you let me" is a foreign entity to Manson, who finishes the album with "I'll teach you about loss”.