By Andy Speck
“Rock is deader than dead, Shock is all in your head”. Marilyn Manson has been in the business of shocking the world around him for as long as he’s been singing. On his 10th studio album, Heaven Upside Down, the Antichrist Superstar attempts reconnect with the very familiar trope of shocking once again, with mixed results.
In terms of sound, the album has a unique flavor amongst Manson’s records. The tracks, especially “KILL4ME” and “Blood Honey”, are all filled with energizing, synthesized beats that quite effectively get you pumped up, but for fans of Antichrist Superstar, there is something to be desired. Manson’s vocals flow infinitely well into the thrashing of a guitar, and unfortunately that presence just isn’t felt.
Lyrically, Heaven Upside Down is strewn about featuring provocative language in some places, with lyrics that sound juvenile in others. Manson is an artist, and through his back catalog of some amazing work, he’s proven competent at writing some of the most intriguing lyrics anyone in the industry has to offer. That’s where a lot of his long-time listeners will take issue with the album. “Je$u$ Cri$i$” not only looks like a punk kid wrote the title in his history notebook, it would appear to the untrained eye one the lyrics were inscribed there too, with “I write songs to fight and to f*ck to” being part of the hilarious chorus.
Stand-out tracks of the album include “Saturnalia” and “Blood Honey”. The mood perpetuated by the former is ominous, as the lyrics at times are drowned out by the sheer atmosphere created by the way the track is mixed. “Blood Honey”, a song about Manson’s battle with attempting to find what his fans want him out of him, does a great job of evoking songs such as “Coma White”, while still evolving his career.
Since the outcry of conservatives the world round in the nineties with the release of his debut album, Marilyn Manson edified his spot as a controversial figure. In this third act of his career, it seems Manson is still somewhat stuck in the nineties. A quick look at the music videos for tracks on this album will show the sexy nun, and other perverted Christian imagery that quite frankly is no longer shocking because a couple of decades ago, those same tropes were already used extensively. In this era of everything going on in the world, we need someone to challenge those social norms, to try and take on what society has become.