Marilyn Manson, Heaven Upside Down | Album Review
He’s back. They’re back. Who? Marilyn Manson! After a two-year hiatus (The Pale Emperor, 2015), the ripest of shock rockers drop an exhilarating tenth studio album, Heaven Upside Down. Considering he’s now 48, past his most lucrative prime, arguably, Manson can only shock so much anymore. Still, on Heaven Upside Down, Brian Hugh Warner does his best to keep the controversy alive and well. There’s plenty to love about Heaven Upside Down.
“We’ll paint the town red, we’ll paint the town red / With the blood of the tourists.” Hmm, “Revelation #12” commences Heaven Upside Down hellishly. Perhaps that’s a cliché for Marilyn Manson, but frontman and band roar from the jump. The guitars are jagged, Manson is ‘super turned.’ Everything about “Revelation #12” feels damned. To quote Manson, “You’re f*cking welcome.”
“So, f*ck your bible and your Babel / I made this psalm into my dirty bomb.” Phew! The groove of “Tattooed in Reverse” should sound relatively familiar to Manson fans – “Killing Strangers” possessed a similar sound. The guitars are distorted – celestial in the most devilish way possible – while the use of electronics provides an additional lift. Manson lets the f-bombs fly freely as “Tattooed in Reverse” thrives off being unapologetic. The chorus is thrilling:
“I’m un-stabled, I’m not a show horse / I can’t be bridled, of course / I’m un-scabbed and un-regretted / I got tattooed in reverse.”
“WE KNOW WHERE YOU F*CKING LIVE”
Speaking of unapologetic and f-bombs, promo record “WE KNOW WHERE YOU F*CKING LIVE” maintains blackness to the nth degree. Lyrically, from the start, Manson isn’t playing around in the least, exhibiting ample intensity. The chorus is incredibly assertive, with Manson on autopilot, screaming to the top of his lungs.
“We know where you f*cking live / We know where you f*cking live / We’ll burn it down, burn it down / They won’t even recognize your corpse.”
As epic as the chorus is, the bridge is simply devastating. Lyrically, it’s all about repetition, but the impact has a pulverizing effect: “Fire, fire, fire, fire, fire away!” Ultimately, “WE KNOW WHERE YOU F*CKING LIVE” is well-produced featuring a valedictory performance by Manson.
The left-hand path is empowered on “SAY10,” clearly a play on Satan. Making “SAY10” even more enigmatic and frightening is the music. Initially, on the first verse, “SAY10” sounds completely foreboding, with Manson singing in a whisper. On the chorus, the deck of cards is completely revealed with a catchy, yet incredibly blasphemous hook. Chocked full of religious references, “SAY10” transcends its beastly title.
“KILL4ME,” the second teaser track from Heaven Upside Down sounds more accessible compared to the album as a whole. Mid-tempo, from the start, this record never feels rushed. It commences with an excellent groove. The sound is dark, expectedly in a minor key, featuring an instrumental that establishes the song. Manson delivers strong, dark, devilish vocals. Even with his signature, coarse pipes, he keeps things in control here. There’s even more of a pop element, particularly on the chorus, with the addition of the electronic sounds.
“Saturnalia” is the lengthiest song from Heaven Upside Down at nearly eight minutes. Additionally, it’s the most experimental. Given its ambition, the more accessible “KILL4ME” serves as great lead-in. The ambition includes referencing Roman mythological god, Saturn, and the respective festival, Saturnalia. During Saturnalia the festival, roles reverse, which seems to fit the vibe of the album. A key line: “And I was invited to eat the young.”
“JE$U$ CRI$I$” is charming – in a Marilyn Manson sort of way. On the chorus, he sings:
“I write songs to fight and to f*ck to / If you wanna fight, then I’ll fight you / If you wanna f*ck, I will f*ck you / Make up your mind or I’ll make it up for you.”
One of the catchiest moments of the album, there’s more to “JE$U$ CRI$I$” as Manson references religion, secularism, and drugs. As always, lyrically, there are some incredibly clever moments.
The vampire is alive and vampirical on “Blood Honey.” Eerie, twisted, and fitting considering the band, Manson makes motives clear on the chorus.
“I’ve got you tied up, I love it / Tied up, I love it / Now, why would I set you free? / Now, you’re tied up, you love it / No lies, now, I love it / I’m not being mean, I’m just being me.”
“Heaven Upside Down”
“Heaven Upside Down” makes its appearance as the penultimate track. It has a tough act to follow after the excellent “Blood Honey.” While the title track isn’t quite as thrilling as the crème de la crème, it’s consistent and enjoyable – in a damning sort of way. “Threats of Romance” concludes Heaven Upside Down heavenly – hellishly, much like it kicks off. The music stands out here in particular, contrasting the other nine songs. The use of piano gives this a different sound and reaches beyond alternative/industrial metal that Manson and company are known for.
All in all, Marilyn Manson delivers another great album with Heaven Upside Down. Heaven Upside Down is definitely a worthy follow-up to The Pale Emperor, keeping the momentum going strong. Sure, Manson is past his heyday, but the 48-year old still has some tricks up his sleeves.
Gems: “WE KNOW WHERE YOU F*CKING LIVE,” “SAY10,” “KILL4ME,” “Blood Honey” & “Threats of Romance.”