To be honest, I never found the so-called 'shock' rocker Marilyn Manson shocking at all. I mean, when you've grown up as a metal fan with the likes of Carcass, Napalm Death, Cannibal Corpse, etc. how could Manson present anything remotely shocking when he appeared on the radar back in the 90s? That's right, he couldn't. He did stand out, admittedly, but mainly due to the oddly androgenous image and the constant coverage of his porn relations and his supposed lifestyle of decadence and debauchery. This had little to do with his music, of course, and his music remained generally unremarkable, although there have been blimps on the scanner if you like rock music inspired by David Bowie and other 70s icons mixed with that nineties feeling. Mind you, Manson's version of Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams is indeed capable and brought new life to the classic 80s tune.
The Bowie references are back now, beginning with the cover picture where we find Manson in a suit and pose that is his idol worthy. Bowie was nick-named 'the thin white duke' back in the day, and the title 'The Pale Emperor' is probably an allusion to that. Musically, you also find allusions to Bowie's more ambient works, although without Bowie's masterful touch.
You could in that sense say that 'The Pale Emperor' is a mature, classy album, and, yeah, in a way it is. In some cases saying that an album is mature is the same as saying that the band has lost its bite and play it safe, which is also a way of saying that it's boring. And this is where we are with 'The Pale Emperor'. It's nice in a harmless way, but it doesn't rattle my world. I hope for Manson that it'll rattle the world of his fans and those right-wing conservative forces in the US, but personally I'll look elsewhere for shock effects.