Album Review: Heaven Upside Down by Marilyn Manson
Very Good, Based on 11 Critics
AllMusic - 90 Based on rating 9/10
After a late-career rejuvenation with 2015's The Pale Emperor, Marilyn Manson extended his creative hot streak with musical partner Tyler Bates on the band's tenth offering, Heaven Upside Down. Originally saddled with the punny title Say10, the album bares sharper teeth and bloodier knuckles than its predecessor, combining Pale Emperor's bluesy, vampire-roadhouse sleaze with the jagged industrial edges that first propelled Manson to notoriety in the '90s. Cocaine and heartbreak continue to fuel the reclusive ghoul, recalling the best of 2007's forlorn Eat Me, Drink Me, a record that gave listeners the first peek at Manson the man.
The short clip depicted the singer ripping pages out of a Bible before the camera cut to a grisly shot of a decapitated body wearing a Trump-esque red tie. Sixteen years after he was both idolised and vilified for corrupting 90s youths and terrorising their parents, Manson.
This might have been a posthumous release (and review) if his stage accident over the weekend had been fatal, and thankfully that’s not the case. But had the worst happened, Heaven Upside Down is the kind of career-defining record that Marilyn Manson just might want to leave as his last great opus anyway. It’d be ironic, of course, because themes of mortality, hell, and the devil (usually personified by Manson himself) are his stock in trade, but either way they’re milked for all their menacing glory on this, his 10th full-length release.
Two years after releasing the surprisingly mature goth-metal offering The Pale Emperor, Marilyn Manson has returned to straight-ahead shock. "I write songs to fight and to fuck to," he sings on "Je$u$ Cri$i$," from his 10th LP, over spiky, electro-hard-rock riffs that occasionally recall his glammy Mechanical Animals period. That old black magic often sounds forced, but he makes up for it with a few more melancholy tracks, the best of which, "Saturnalia," is an eight-minute ode to orgiastic revelry that feels like a long-lost descendant of Bauhaus' "Bela Lugosi's Dead." .
Has there ever been a more perfect rock star than Marilyn Manson? In the post-Cold War/ pre-9/11 mid-Nineties, he made himself the great existential threat to American society. A veiny, pale-eyed transvestite witch-man, come to take away your children. No-one was sure if he was the 'god of fuck' or Paul from The Wonder Years; nonetheless he terrified parents across the United States by pushing himself as Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke and Pierrot the Clown crossed with the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
New Musical Express (NME) - 60 Based on rating 3/5
For more than 20 years Marilyn Manson has been the snake in pop and rock’s Garden of Eden. Modern music’s most famous Satanist has thrived there, hissing at any cherubic newcomers, warming his cold blood near his beloved fires of Hell. These days Brian Warner’s antics are cheeky rather than outrageous; he recently flicked a journalist’s testicles mid-interview and berated Justin Bieber over a T-shirt design.
But back in the mid-’90s he was a genuinely disruptive cultural force.
There’s something quaint, in retrospect, about how Marilyn Manson’s early albums were once considered so dangerous they were blamed for the Columbine High School massacre—as if one man smearing on eyeliner and screaming about the antichrist could alone move a couple of teenagers to deadly violence. Manson made for a convenient scapegoat in 1999. Given how sunny the rest of the country looked on the surface, he stood out like an infected sore on a CoverGirl model, embracing nihilism and evil, cutting himself onstage, baiting transphobes with his drag performance as effortlessly as he baited Christians with his purported cahoots with the devil.
Marilyn Manson is back. Bigger, madder and darker than ever. Hungry to dig under the fingernails of society and uncover the hypocritical, putrid scabs beneath. Well, that’s what the media would have you believe. After years of output with limited commercial success, the music and popular press seem genuinely thrilled to embrace the craziness and welcome some long overdue menace into the over-sanitized mainstream. Manson might not be the threat to the nation’s youth that he once was but boy could we do with him right now..
Musician, actor, novelist, model, complete cultural icon; there aren’t many things you can’t call Marilyn Manson. His output since the mid-’90s has helped to define a generation by feeding the mainstream some of the darkest and most dangerous music that’s ever been able to infiltrate it.
For all his consistency in desolate atmospherics, Manson has never been afraid to take reference points from other genres; industrial (‘Antichrist Superstar’), glam rock (‘Mechanical Animals’), and blues (‘The Pale Emperor’) - although on new album ‘Heaven Upside Down’, his second album with close collaborator Tyler Bates, the self-styled God Of Fuck fuses all three to devastating effect.
It would be too easy to dismiss Marilyn Manson as a relic of the '90s, a simpler time when anyone who paid lip service to attacking family values while name-dropping Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey could spark national outrage. That assessment was complicated by his namesake band's 2015 album "The Pale Emperor," an unusually restrained record that revealed the beguiling songcraft behind Manson's shock-meister shtick. "Heaven Upside Down" aims to continue that late-career renaissance by mixing the suave poise of "The Pale Emperor" with the scorched-earth industrial metal of "Antichrist Superstar." Even when Manson's antics threaten to overwhelm everything around him, there's a lot to enjoy here if you don't take any of it too seriously.
Marilyn Manson writes songs that he fights and fucks to—or at least that’s what he’d like us to believe. With all the subtlety of a high school sophomore scrawling naughty words on the inside of his notebook, Manson literally tells us so on “JE$U$ CRI$IS,” a song from his tenth album Heaven Upside Down. He continues, taunting in that familiar nursery rhyme-esque cadence: “If you wanna fight, then I’ll fight you.