On the first listen to Born Villain, you notice references to Shakespeare, Baudelaire and the Greek myths. Say what you like about Marilyn Manson: you don't get that stuff from Slipknot.
Since standing down – or being stood down – as a lightning rod for moral panic, Manson has been free to pursue his artistic vision unhindered. Frustratingly, over the past two albums, he's failed to exploit that freedom. Until now. Sure, there's plenty of bog-standard trash-talk. Sure, there's some Manson-by-numbers. But the eighth Marilyn Manson album features some of his finest lyrics yet and, musically, it often approaches the heyday of Holy Wood and Mechanical Animals. It is, then, something approaching the "stunning return to form" of rock-crit cliché.