by Tim Birkbeck
The signs of a true artist can be defined by their legacy as well as their output.
For Marilyn Manson, a man who as been accused of being the human embodiment of the devil, in a career which is fast approaching 25 years, he could be forgiven for resting on his laurels a little bit, but that just isn’t his style. Returning with his 10th studio album Heaven Upside Down, it isn’t so much a record to turn heads more a reminder of who Manson is.
A man who gave us ‘The Dope Show’, ‘Unkillable Monster’ and immortalised his version of ‘Tainted Love’ as his own, you can guarantee that he wasn’t going to let things lie. And that is what Heaven Upside Down feels like, right from opening track ‘Revelation #12’ it has that familiar sludgy guitar sound combined with the rasp of Manson’s voice.
What is interesting is that on the surface it may appear that some of the music is a little less aggressive than some of Manson’s earlier material on albums like Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals, but instead the darkness comes through in the form of influences of the likes of Joy Division and The Cure, a low hum here, a creepy vocal rhythm there, it isn’t so much in your face Manson rather than playing with your mind with his lyrics.
There are numerous throwbacks throughout the record which act as stepping stones in Manson’s career and give songs like ‘We Know Where You Fucking Live’ a punk feel. The repetitive howl of the chorus will have anyone listening screaming along.
Not one to shy away from the controversial the cleverly named ‘Say10’ – which was the original working title of the record – is a big, snarling anthem that’s built for stages where than man himself can conduct his followers.
And in true Manson style it would not be a Marilyn Manson album if there was not any social commentary on religion and the punchy ‘Tattooed in Reverse’ kicks right in with the lyrics “So fuck your Bible and your belt, make this song into a dirty bomb” could not be more symbolic or typical of Manson.
But the real master piece on the record is the near eight minute epic ‘Saturnalia’ where Manson’s distinguishable voice takes centre stage and really takes the listener on a journey.
Heaven Upside Down is a roll call of Manson’s favourite topics; corruption, love, mythology and Christianity, relayed by an unbridled torrent of wordplay.
Heaven Upside Down is out now via by Loma Vista Recordings and Caroline International.