For the past decade of Marilyn Manson‘s career, the venom residing in his fangs has certainly been under a great amount of dispute, putting out work that saw the self-proclaimed Antichrist Superstar being hoisted down from his unholy cross, and seemingly focusing more attention on personal despair as opposed to pushing buttons and provoking the masses.
Gone was the headline grabbing The God of Fuck of yore that brought us the macabre majesty of the triptych, and in its place was a Manson that almost descended to The God of Fuck All, regularly attempting to recreate the fire of his glory years with mixed and subpar results. Then 2015’s ‘The Pale Emperor’ rolled up with its blue tinged swagger, and proved whole-heartedly that Manson‘s prowess was anything but dead.
Moving on to its follow-up, ‘Heaven Upside Down’, Manson has opted to work once again with ‘The Pale Emperor’ producer Tyler Bates, whose day job revolves around composing scores for films and TV shows a la Guardians Of The Galaxy, 300, and Californication. With Bates back at the helm, here Manson finally manages to inject his classic sound into a more revamped body of work with a lucrative and lament fuelled result.
Leading the charge on album number ten with ‘Revelation #12’, we get a sense of the brash Manson that we were introduced to from the late 90s. Indeed, it harks back to the ‘Antichrist Superstar’ era of the provocateur’s career, and the same can be said for lead single ‘We Know Where You Fucking Live’. Yes, it does sound a bit like ‘Irresponsible Hate Anthem’ with a little less teeth, but it reeks with rebellion and ferocity, and we haven’t heard Manson sound this exasperated in a long, long time.
‘Say10’, which was also the initial choice for the album’s title, certainly has a sinister lead into the song, and definitely wouldn’t sound out of place slotting onto the track listing for his 2000 record retaliating the American media that tried to bring him down in flames, ‘Holy Wood’. Manson whispers and whimpers atop a subtle drum pattern, until a malevolent electronic surge swells, inviting in an ominous sense of dread, before he starts roaring in the infectious chorus hook.
‘Kill4Me’ is a suave and unconventional love song, playing on the cliché question of “would you die for me?” across many typical love songs on the radio today, and is easily the closest relative to ‘The Pale Emperor’. The nearly 8-minute long space rock-esque odyssey of ‘Saturnalia’ undoubtedly has a Bowie influence littered across it, and and the less bombastic and emo imprinted ‘Blood Honey’ stands as one of the record’s strongest highlights.
Closer ‘Threats Of Romance’ brings in images of Manson sat at a piano, with a burning cigar sat in an ashtray emitting smoke curls that circulate the room in a song that is equally lounge as it is vigorously gall, trying to seduce all who listen before he shrieks down the microphone “I like you damaged.”
For the most part, Manson‘s homages to the past with Bates‘ cinematic and grandiose encasing deliver in spades, but then there’s the obvious weak link on the record, ‘Jesus Cri$i$’. Easily the most powerless cut here lyrically, with an overly simplistic and feeble chorus line in “I write songs to fight and to fuck to / If you want to fight then I’ll fight you / If you want to fuck, I will fuck you / Make up your mind, or I’ll make it up for you”, it sounds like he tried to recreate ‘The Fight Song’ with the result being a derivative and watered-down parody.
Manson may not be the same beast that he was back in the late 90s and early 00s. We not be seeing him turn the world upside down anymore, and he may not be grabbing headlines, or shocking the religious, but alongside 2015’s ‘The Pale Emperor’, ‘Heaven Upside Down’ has enriched and empowered the statement that many were saying a couple of years back. This is the best that Manson has sounded since the early 00s.
Once slumped, and by his own admission not in a place where he was the person or the artist that he wanted to be, Manson has his confidence and his vision for domination back. With his shoulders back, ready to kick down the door on the doubters, we’re witness to his rebirth.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)