If there’s one thing I’ve always been able to learn about Marilyn Manson, it’s that he’s an extremely confusing figure. On the one hand, he’s a heavy metal rock’n’roll star who’s sold more than 50m albums and has been accused of inciting Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris to commit mass murder. On the other, he’s a flamboyantly outlandish goth who’s hardly changed in 25 years and still seems unsure of what to do with his public persona.
But that’s all about to change with his comeback album The Pale Emperor, a muscular and streamlined work that’s his most powerful since 2000’s Holy Wood. The chain-gang lurch of opener “Killing Strangers” wastes no time announcing a transition from previous albums’ industrial pop-metal aesthetic to bottom-heavy Southern rock.
The track was written and produced by Manson and Tyler Bates, who stated that it was inspired by the PTSD suffered by his father after his time in the US military during the Vietnam War. It was first released in October 2014, when it was predominantly featured in the movie John Wick starring Keanu Reeves.
It was also released as a single in the UK, where it peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hard Rock Digital Songs charts. During the song’s release, several publications praised it, with many calling it the band’s best album opener. The video for the song was viewed over 10 million times. It was nominated for a Grammy award in the Best Alternative Music song category and received a nomination for the Golden Globe awards.