Album Review- Heaven Upside Down by Marilyn Manson (Loma Vista/Caroline International)
Infamous shock rock star, Marilyn Manson, has released his tenth studio album today, the 6th of October. That album is called Heaven Upside Down and is released via Loma Vista Recordings and Caroline International. Heaven Upside Down follows 2015’s The Pale Emperor. You can follow the link to read our thoughts on that one.
There have been a couple of singles released in anticipation of the new album. The first was WE KNOW WHERE YOU FUCKING LIVE and the second was called KILL4ME. You can follow the links to read our thoughts on those but, aside from finding the Caps Lock button, they also showed some real fire. Moments in the tracks were reminiscent of early Manson work from albums like Antichrist Superstar or Mechanical Animals. They brought a bit of energy and lots of menace. They gave a nod of respect to the classics from almost 2 decades ago but with a more modern edge.
At the same time, Manson has been making headlines by doing things like calling out Justin Bieber and unfortunately injuring himself when part of his elaborate live set collapsed on him while he climbed on it. It feels a bit like I have gone back in time here but it is more that Manson has come in to the present. On the singles, brought great music with him, taking influence from his lengthy career. Outside of music, he has brought his usual controversy. Does the whole of Heaven Upside Down live up to expectation though? Is Manson back to bring a whole new reign of terror to the clean cut parents of the 2010’s or is it all hype and marketing?
Heaven Upside Down is 10 tracks and just under 48 minutes of new music. Starting with Revelation #12, you get an instant feel of the menace this album is saturated in. Heavily distorted vocals and loads of echo are the prominent sound. A fast drum beat and tons of guitar effects and synth. It actually isn’t that good a song to listen to musically but it certainly introduces the album well. Giving you a feeling of “wow, he sounds pissed off”.
There is a lot of aggression on the album actually. A lot of fire. WE KNOW WHERE YOU FUCKING LIVE is as in your face as the title suggests. It really hits hard with tons of distortion and shouting. Je$u$ Cri$i$ is bassy, heavy and tasteless with Manson fully embracing his “God of Fuck” persona through lyrics like “I write songs to fight and fuck to”. Say10 starts slower but builds into a crushing track with a loud and abrasive chorus. The lyrics don’t do too much for me with a ton of word play going on from the title Say10 (Satan) to Cocaine and Abel. Nothing wrong with word play but I don’t really get what he is trying to put across with it.
KILL4ME and Tattooed in Reverse are more slower tempo, groove songs with tons of bass. Tattooed in Reverse is a great song. Possibly my favourite on the album actually. It has a cool rhythm and a really good chorus that you will want to sing along to as he shouts “I’m unstable”.
Saturnalia stands out on the album as being a bit of something different. At just under 8 minutes long, it is not far short of an epic in regards to length but only really feels like it in moments. The first 90 seconds are just the echoed bass line and effects slowly building up. Vocals come in softly over a very slow beat. Throughout the song it builds up to more menacing verses before dropping back into soft. There are long moments of just bass and synth between verses. It is one of the few songs on Heaven Upside Down that lacks a bit of energy and identity to me.
Heaven Upside Down ends with 3 of Manson’s softer, thought provoking songs. Similar in parts to how Mechanical Animals ends with Coma White. Blood Honey is first up and is the weakest of the 3, despite some emotional insights into Manson’s mind with lyrics like “I got some feelings but I try to hide what I reel in”. It just falls a little flat musically and the chorus, unlike the excellent Coma White, is a bit bland and fails to pack a punch.
Title track Heaven Upside Down does capture the imagination though. There is a little more hardness and tempo to it than Blood Honey and it feels passionate and raw. The tempo raises for the choruses, there is a sweet drum rhythm and even a nice distorted solo. It is a very good track. It could easily have been the album closer but that honour falls to Threats of Romance.
There is an almost classic rock feel to the guitar riff in the intro. Manson’s vocals are really strong on this song. Mid tempo verses carry on the neat riff in the background. A strong bass line and loads of little guitar moments make the track stand out a bit and the chorus is catchy too. A good song but the album would have been better ending on the title track for me. This one has a touch of filler to it.
Heaven Upside Down is a good album, maybe a great one. It carries on the return of Marilyn Manson having shown form on The Pale Emperor. At points it feels a bit nostalgic, like you have heard some of it before, but it is still good music, interesting, well played and well sung. There are thought provoking lyrics and plenty of offensive ones too and that is exactly what you want from Manson. That mix of in your face but also, intelligence with inventive sounds and rhythms backed by the ever loyal Twiggy Ramirez is timeless.
It isn’t all good though. A couple tracks lack the pull of most of the album. Blood Honey has moments but just lacks a little something and Saturnalia drags on a bit. Again, it has moments but it certainly doesn’t need to be 8 minutes long. Still, a couple blips aside Heaven Upside Down is a very good album and is definitely worth checking out.
You can pick up Heaven Upside Down from here. There are some pretty neat packages available. You can also pick up the album, the singles and more from Manson at the links below. Check out Marilyn Manson on their website, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information on them and their new music. Be sure to like and follow them while you are there.
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Heaven Upside Down by Marilyn Manson (Loma Vista/Caroline International)
The Final Score - 8/10