Marilyn Manson’s New CD Has a Weird Physical Quality to It

Here’s an experiment if you have a CD copy of The Pale Emperor. When you pull it out of the case, the disc is completely black. Shove if it your player and listen to it. Then eject it. What colour is it now? Pure white!

This cool trick happens because the raw material used for this release is the same as what was used for Sony PlayStation discs back in the 90s. Apparently, they’re harder to pirate in some way. The discs contain a thermal layer which is black when cool. When heated up by the laser in a CD player, that thermal layer turns white.  Once the disc cools again, it goes back to being black.

Neat trick.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “Marilyn Manson’s New CD Has a Weird Physical Quality to It

  • April 28, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    I have a Phantom of the Opera mug, it has the title in “shattered” letters on one side, and the other side looks plain black until you pour hot liquid into it, and the white Phantom mask magically appears.

  • April 28, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    It didn’t seem completely clear, but I understand that the actual surface of the readable part of the disc is black as well. I never owned an original Playstation but there were CD-R’s like this back in the day. They weren’t terribly reliable though.

    Further to this though, being a big NIN fan Alan, I’m surprised you didn’t mention Year Zero – the original pressings also had a thermal color changing label – which changed from black to white, like this one – but also showed a binary message when heated which was part of the alternate reality game designed around that album. That was sure a trip when ejecting it from a cd player for the first time and not knowing about this – thinking WTF – which CD did I put in?! That was 8 years ago already though. This MM disc would have fit in better then, when CDs weren’t quite out of vogue yet…

    Here’s a pic of year zero disc:


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