ARTIST: MARILYN MANSON

TITLE: HEAVEN UPSIDE DOWN

LABEL: LOMA VISTA RECORDINGS

RATING: 8/10

Boy has it been a good year for the industrial music scene. Not only did Nine Inch Nails release their excellent Add Violence EP, but now the King of Controversy himself is back with his tenth studio record Heaven Upside Down, and he’s just as suave, unsettling and controversial as ever.

Heaven Upside Down is Marilyn Manson to the very core; it’s cool, it’s scathingly political, it still has half of the world up in arms with cries of how Manson is polluting the minds of their children with messages of sex, violence and anti-religious cultism (completely failing to see that these are things that Manson is vehemently attacking). It sounds like you expect Marilyn Manson to sound. It’s loud, it’s angry, it’s filled with killer guitar riffs, strange pseudo-electronica and deep, raspy vocals. In truth, it sounds like a Manson album that could have been written in the nineties, perhaps somewhere between Antichrist Superstar and Holy Wood. By all rights, this should make the album feel stale, after all, most acts would hate for a new album to sound like it could have come out two decades ago, but in reality, this is exactly what we wanted; a Marilyn Manson album that sounds like it came from the band’s prime.

That doesn’t mean that time hasn’t changed the band. Despite having that classic feel to it, there’s a conscious wisdom to Heaven Upside Down that was perhaps lacking in Manson’s older records. While tracks like ‘WE KNOW WHERE YOU FUCKING LIVE’ and ‘JE$U$ CRI$I$’ certainly have that classic, angst-ridden, hate-fuelled feel of the old Marilyn Manson (the kind of songs written by the same band that put out tracks like ‘This Is The New Shit’ and ‘mOBSCENE’), some tracks prove that this is not the same Marilyn Manson we’ve always known, but something older and wiser.

Most prevalent of these tracks are the nearly eight-minute-long epic ‘Saturnalia’, and the track ‘Blood Honey’, which come across as pieces written by people that have been around for a long time, and are tired of seeing the same old thing. They’re evocative, brilliant tracks that show Manson expertly encapsulate the mood of the embittered, particularly of those in present day America.

If there is criticism to be found in the record, it’s that there isn’t any one song on the album that really stands out as the instant classic. The most attention-gripping track is easily ‘WE KNOW WHERE YOU FUCKING LIVE’ and it’s a song that for all purposes, Manson has done before (again thinking of ‘This Is The New Shit’, ‘The Beautiful People’ and ‘mOBSCENE’). That is hardly a big issue though, as all it means is that none of the tracks on the album feel like ones that would see regular play on the air, and let’s be honest, when has that ever been the case for Marilyn Manson? Heaven Upside Down is a solid album of certified bangers, and while none of it may stand out as the next goth-anthem, none of it dips far below sheer excellence either.

For the better part of three decades, Marilyn Manson has been the voice of the world’s troubled, outcast youth, and a figurehead for goth culture. With the eponymous singer nearing his fiftieth birthday, you would think that the band would have perhaps fallen out of touch with its target audience; however, despite the band sticking to the same industrial structure for nearly thirty years, Heaven Upside Down proves just why Marilyn Manson remains such a prolific figure. With the departure of long-time bassist/guitarist/songwriter Twiggy Ramirez, who was dismissed from the band following allegations of sexual assault, it’ll be interesting to see where Marilyn Manson goes from here, having parted ways with one of their primary contributors. If Heaven Upside Down, which was written without Ramirez’s input, is anything to go off of, they won’t be slowing down any time soon.

You can listen to the album here:

WORDS: JOSHUA SOUTHERN

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