Marilyn Manson: Heaven Upside Down

Marilyn Manson
Heaven Upside Down
(Loma Vista)

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One of the things that first attracted me to Marilyn Manson (the band) was how unified they seemed to be in their kookiness and ability to frighten or piss people off. The music was actually a bonus. It was just great to have a band in my generation that truly rocked the boat of every day “normal” life (not that we didn’t have plenty of other artists pushing and destroying boundaries).

However, as the shock aspect of Marilyn Manson wore off over time, we were just left with the music and a rotating door of musicians surrounding the band’s iconic front man. Luckily for long time fans the music on Manson’s new album, Heaven Upside Down, is pretty good. If you’re looking for another Antichrist Superstar, that kind of lightning doesn’t strike twice but this new release does occasionally share some aspects of that classic album as well as its superb follow-up, Mechanical Animals. Musician/composer Tyler Bates has returned to pull the strings like he did on the well received Pale Emperor.

When you think of other artists who were considered shocking at some point like David Bowie and Alice Cooper, you realize that even they toned it down eventually and just made music. That seems to be the case with Manson as most of his outrageous antics take a backseat now in favor of songs that still feel dark and angry at times but no longer make you feel like a giddy heretic for enjoying it.

“We Know Where You F***ing Live” proves that Manson can still scream as ferociously as he ever has, even if he doesn’t do it as often. Other songs like “Saturnalia” bring up that Mechanical Animal vibe while “JE$U$ CRI$I$” actually made me think of the last great Manson album in my humble opinion, Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death.)

This album is much better than some of those mid-career albums Manson released after longtime bandmate/collaborator Twiggy left and returned. What we have here though is essentially, like Pale Emperor, a Tyler Bates solo album with Manson handling the lyrics and vocals. We’ll never again have the fun, wacky sounds emanating from Madonna Wayne Gacy’s dark corner, Twiggy’s sinister catchy riffs, Ginger Fish’s machine-like groove or John 5’s guitar wizardry, but for what we have left of Marilyn Manson (the band) we’re still in a pretty good place.

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