There’s an unfortunate trend among 90s rock stars to age poorly. One need look no further than Korn’s failed dubstep experiment six years ago. Thankfully, after several admittedly unremarkable releases, Marilyn Manson seems to have bucked this trend with his latest album Heaven Upside Down.
In many ways, Heaven Upside Down is something of a throwback to Manson’s earlier work. It’s certainly his most consistently heavy release in over a decade, with much of the album characterised by churning, almost glam-esque guitar riffs in the vein of Mechanical Animals. Indeed the glam influences become particularly apparent in the last track ‘Threats of Romance’, where the main riff sounds suspiciously similar to that of T-Rex’s ‘Children of the Revolution’. Still, other songs such as ‘We Know Where You Fucking Live’ and the opening track ‘Revelations #12’ have a more abrasive edge to them, reminiscent of Manson’s breakout album Antichrist Superstar.
A wonderfully discordant and unsettling effect
But for all the similarities to his earlier work, Manson doesn’t blatantly copy anything (save that T-Rex riff), and Heaven Upside Down is very much its own entity. I particularly liked the way the electronic elements of the album were used, which not only add another layer to the instrumentation, but also has a wonderfully discordant and unsettling effect on certain songs like ‘Blood Honey’.
None of this is to say that Heaven Upside Down is perfect. Whilst some of the lyrics are deeply intimate and personal, others miss the mark (“You say God, I say Say10” isn’t exactly Shakespeare if I’m honest). Nor does Manson break any new ground. If you’re not really a fan of Manson’s work, chances are you won’t find anything particularly special in this album. But as someone who is, I consider Heaven Upside Down to be a real return to form for the Antichrist Superstar.
Highlight tracks: ‘We Know Where You Fucking Live’, ‘SAY10’, ‘Saturnalia’, ‘Blood Honey’