Rating: 5/5 stars
Marilyn Manson returns with a naturally heavy, satanically sex-fuelled record, laced with industrial metal riffs and theatrical undertones. The record runs fast and heavy, each song powerful enough to not be considered a filler – a crisp sheen effort from the goth-rock veteran.
While the second song, ‘Tattooed In Reverse’ seems flimsy in its lyrical, tongue-in-cheek humour: “I’m unstable, I’m not a show horse”, Manson characteristically pairs this with a seductive pre-chorus layered in violent criticisms on religion (“f*ck your bible”) and heavy guitar licks, creating one of the most stand-out songs on the album. Further, the unapologetic nature of the song epitomises Manson’s raw sense of individuality and unwillingness to conform, which has seen him become a cult figure in rock music since his 1994 debut Portrait Of An American Family.
Also worth recognition is ‘Saturnalia’: an eight-minute long dedication to Manson’s late father. It features an almost hypnotic spiral of guitar chords, which slips almost unnoticed into ‘JE$US CRI$I$’: a raspy monologue effortlessly complemented by the equally rough, “I write songs to fight and to fu*k to”.
This leads into a fast-paced, menacing provocation on drugs and sex that ultimately characterises the edge that has allowed Manson to firm his grasp on his place in music, with his provocative flair forgiving the repetition of his lyrical tropes of sex and the antichrist.
The title song ‘Heaven Upside Down’ is in parts daringly softer than the rest of the album, with a loss of thrash that could see it rise into popular rock, if not for the twisted melancholic lyrics that carry it back into Manson’s typical range. The track preludes the final song on the album, ‘Threats Of Romance’, which reliably returns to the heavier side of his repertoire, glorifying the darker, twisted aspects of relationships, sealing the album with screams of “I like you damaged” that seem to promise that he will not be toned down any time soon. The album, embellished with heavy riffs and sensual lyrics, is a credit to Manson, and producer Tyler Bates, and absolutely should not be overlooked.
Image: Jenny Entwistle, Chuff Media