Marilyn Manson, 'The High End of Low' (Interscope)

Critical Mass
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by Doug Brod

Not that anyone but that kid serving you at TCBY was counting -- but after a seven-year break, goth rock's funniest creep welcomes back guitarist Twiggy Ramirez for this collection of 15 necromantic vamps, mass-murder ballads, and stormtrooper anthems (including the stupendous "Arma-goddamn-mother-fuckin-geddon," where Manson's glorious glam roots are showing). While it's still easy to dismiss his shock tactics as puerile and insensitive (if you're gonna sing about someone "pretty as a swastika," they'd better be really ugly), he hasn't sounded this vital -- and tuneful -- since Mechanical Animals. Oh, the horror!

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