Remember like, almost 3 years ago when I reviewed Marilyn Manson’s The Pale Emperor? That album was great. It wasn’t the best Marilyn Manson album, but I’d say it was easy to say that it beat the previous few albums that the band released. Similarly, Heaven Upside Down (available now!) still isn’t the best thing they’ve ever put out. However, I’m comfortable saying it’s once again better than the previous few albums, The Pale Emperor included. It’s difficult to compare albums though, as ultimately it comes down to opinion. But that’s what all reviews are or should be. Let’s dig into this album differently. We’ll do it track by track as they appear in the tracklist.
This new collection of 10 songs begins with “Revelation #12.” I like to describe it as a song that might have appeared on Antichrist Superstar, but with a sort of stock, modern rock chorus…or refrain…whatever it is…I don’t know. What do I look like, a musician? If you think Marilyn Manson lost his balls between The Pale Emperor and Heaven Upside Down for some reason, this song will change your mind. It’s heavy and loud, but it’s also extremely well-produced and clean. Tyler Bates is the man.
Tattooed in Reverse
I like this song. It sounds like kind of natural progression from The Pale Emperor sound. It’s mid-tempo and pleasant to listen to, but there’s some crazy synths and top-notch growling at work here on top of the guitars. Synths have been mostly absent since Pogo left essentially in the band in 2006. So we haven’t heard that type of stuff from Marilyn Manson too much in the last 10 years. I missed it. But anyway, I don’t know what “Tattooed in Reverse” means, but the song is one of the quirkier songs they’ve ever recorded, for sure.
We Know Where You Fucking Live
Somewhere I read that this song would have sounded at home on 2000’s Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death). I mean, that’s not the craziest thing I’ve ever read, but I can’t say I agree with it either. As familiar as I am with Marilyn Manson’s breadth of work, and as understanding as I am of the benefit of being able to compare something new to something older and already known, I don’t like to attempt to find similarities in older songs just because.
Anyway, so with “Revelation #12,” we know Marilyn still has balls. With “WKWYFL,” we know he can still scream. I like screaming. This song features that and some simply awesome hard rock riffs and a touch of that MM charm. This was chosen as the lead single. I would not have made the same choice, but I suppose it does exhibit the heaviness and loudness of the album while also being somewhat radio-friendly, despite the chorus features the name of the song.
A tiny piece of this track was the audio for an infamous video that Marilyn Manson posted on Election Day. It features quiet, creepy verses and big loud choruses, and who doesn’t love that? I didn’t immediately enjoy it, but it definitely grew on me. This might have made for a better first single. I enjoy the lyric of “Cocaine and Abel. I don’t baptize whores. I’m a legend. I’m not a fable.”
I hate the title of this song. Maybe there’s a seriously clever reason why it’s stylized as it is, but until I discover that, the title brings down my enjoyment of this song a tad. Whatever. So this is the second single for Heaven Upside Down, and in my opinion, would have been better than “WKWYFL.” Like most of these new tunes, we get some provocative vocals and an overall dirty sleaze that it’s hard to come by nowadays. I didn’t immediately love this song, but I’ve come to realize it’s good stuff.
Heaven Upside Down is Marilyn Manson’s 10th album. That means they’ve recorded lots of songs, and I’m a huge fan of most of it. But man, I can’t remember the last time a Marilyn Manson song hit me so hard the first time I heard it and every effing subsequent time. This song is amazing. It’s nearly 8 minutes of an ever-changing musical space. You’ll be closing your eyes and taken to deep recesses of your mind or whatever during some parts. In others, like the chorus, you’ll be headbanging and pumping your fist. We have expertly crafted layered vocals, guitars, and various soundscapes.
I haven’t put together a list of top 10 favorite Marilyn Manson songs before, at least not since I was in high school. But without sitting down and getting scientific with it, I’m pretty sure this would be in the top 10. It’s possible I might even put it in my top 10 favorite songs by any artist. Yeah. I like it that much. “Saturnalia” doesn’t really sound like anything else they’ve done before, but it reminds me of “The Reflecting God” in some ways. I remember hearing that song for the first time when I was 13 years old. I just bought Antichrist Superstar from Best Buy, got back to my bedroom, popped it into my boombox, and that album made me feel something…not like that. Like, a crazy weird feeling. “Saturnalia” is so similar in that way. Man. I could write an essay on this song, but I’ll stop. But yeah, this song album is worth the price of the album. Man.
This song has a vibe similar to “Tattooed in Reverse” and “Kill4Me” maybe. It’s dark, poppy, and plain dirty. The chorus goes like this: “I write songs to fight and to fuck to. If you wanna fight, then I’ll fight you. If you wanna fuck, I will fuck you. Make up your mind, or I’ll make it up for you.” There’s a section of the song transforms into this bizarre, angry, chanty…thing before it slams back into the aforementioned chorus. Yeah. Good stuff.
“I’m not being mean; I’m just being me.” We get some beautiful piano, atmospheric synths, dreamy vocals, and soaring choruses with this song. I spend a lot of my days being sad, and this song makes for a fitting soundtrack. If you want something to cry along to, this selection should work nicely. It’s sort of brooding, but also very powerful. Mmm…
Heaven Upside Down
Title tracks are traditionally exceptionally great on Marilyn Manson albums. Think about it. “Antichrist Superstar,” “Mechanical Animals,” “The Golden Age of Grotesque,” “Eat Me, Drink Me,” “Born Villain.” All great songs. I can’t think of any cool buzzwords to describe the way this song sounds. It’s a mostly straightforward guitar song. There’s a guitar solo; that’s cool. It’s catchy enough to be on the radio. Yeah. I like it a lot.
Threats of Romance
Last song. I don’t not like it, but if I had to choose my least favorite on the album, I don’t think it would be necessary to ponder long. It reminds me of something that might have fit on The High End of Low. It’s fine, but it’s not especially interesting. It’s just kind of there. We get some nice melodies here and there, but a lot of it is just yelling over the top of simple guitar parts. I tend to skip this song.