Marilyn Manson - Heaven Upside Down

by paul_guyet Rating:8 Release Date:2017-10-06
Marilyn Manson - Heaven Upside Down
Marilyn Manson - Heaven Upside Down

From the moment it starts, it's clear that 1996's Antichrist Superstar, the best album Marilyn Manson has ever released, is the template for Heaven Upside Down, and that is always a good idea. This album is evidence that Tyler Bates in Manson's new Trent Reznor. Is he as good as Reznor? Obviously not, but he's the best thing to happen to Manson in over a decade.

The album's opener, "Revelation #12" echoes the thudding, sludgy bass of Antichrist Superstar, the kind of shit Twiggy Ramirez was meant to play. From there, we get something absolutely unique in "Tattooed In Reverse". It's like bluesy-electro-Goth-jock rock. Knowing Manson, this one is for the strippers. It's like something from The Golden Age of Grotesque* slowed down and made massive. The cadence of that opening line..."So fuck your bible and your babble"...that is word play. "WE KNOW WHERE YOU FUCKING LIVE" is another excellent ACS throwback, and his best single in years...14 years, to be specific. "We know where you fucking live / we know where you fucking live / we'll burn it down / burn it down / they won't even recognize your corpse". Jesus, no shitty puns there. "SAY10" starts like a horror movie and then becomes the killer, and, while I'll award points for "cocaine and Abel" (because it is so. Fucking. Manson.) I'm taking them away almost immediately for referring to himself as a "legend". You flew too high, Brian. "SAY10" should have been the last track on side A (ABOVE), and the next track, "KILL4ME", should have been left off the album entirely; it's the weakest link here, smacking of Eat Me, Drink Me from its first note: repetitious, plodding, dull. The first in a small handful of missteps.

Side B (BELOW) begins with "Saturnalia", one of the longest tracks Manson has ever created, clocking in at almost 8 minutes. I was very excited/anxious for this, as it could have been a toilet fire like "I Want To Kill You Like They Do In The Movies"**, but it kept me engaged the whole time. Between the drums, bass, and Manson's backing croak-als, this is the closest thing to "Bela Lugosi's Dead" he'll ever release, unless he just does a straight-up cover. Manson does love his 80's covers... "Je$u$ Cri$i$"*** has some of that barroom-fist-fight dirt introduced on Pale Emperor and there's something concise about the circular manner of the chorus that appeals to me. I was worried when I first saw the title, but when things kick in about halfway through, all the worries go out the window. They should really play this live. JC might be the perfect amalgamation of Manson's previous album and the direction of his next one...I hope. And, speaking of hope, here's where I started to lose mine. The final three tracks in no way stack up against the majority of the opening seven. Nothing is out and out awful, just a letdown in comparison. I was really looking forward to the title track being as revolutionary and world-ending as that of Antichrist Superstar, but it is not. "Blood Honey" and "Threats of Romance"...just kind of happen.

I like Manson better when he's telling a story and playing a character. I've always seen him as a character and I don't need to hear about how he can't sustain a relationship, it's mundane. I like my Manson screaming and bleeding in front of a burning church, not howling power ballades and asking someone to hold his hand...which he actually does in the title track...like half a dozen times.
"KILL4ME", "Blood Honey", "Heaven Upside Down" , and "Threats of Romance" all feel like remainders from the Pale Emperor sessions and they don't belong here, they distract and get in the way of Manson's re-evolution back to ACS. To be clear, they aren't bad (except for "KILL4ME", that song is bad), just not right for this.
60% of this album is more than solid, more than good, it's great, and, as Manson's music for the past fourteen years has created a sort of grading curve, that translates to a much higher score. Heaven Upside Down is the true successor to Antichrist Superstar. There are traces of Pale Emperor here, but I'm hoping this is the second piece of a new trilogy, the final installment of which will sound wholly like Superstar and signal a return to form for Marilyn Manson as a dark, malevolent force, championing for and bringing about the musical apocalypse.
 
* Manson's last great album before this one

** A nine minute track from The High End of Low

*** Oy.

 

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