Marilyn Manson – Heaven Upside Down

Marilyn Manson returns with his 10th studio album, and it sounds exactly how you think it would sound: like background music at a Spencer’s Gifts or a Hot Topic at your local mall. Well, there’s more to it than that really. That last record he made was actually not bad, but this record is even better, a total throwback to his earlier work, his roots.

Heaven Upside Down’s songwriting is simplified and streamlined. It’s not meandering and all over the place. This could be because Manson is only working with essentially one other person and that’s friend, writer, musician, and producer Tyler Bates. These two are on the same page and make the perfect team. They worked great together on the last album, The Pale Emperor, but they were trying to do something different then. This time, they’re zeroing in on Manson’s wheelhouse, kind of going back to where he started in a way. It seems that Manson in the past has had a penchant for letting too many cooks into the kitchen at the same time and in a studio that can be a disaster. This does not happen here. Less is more for Manson, but besides Bates and Manson, they only bring Gil Sharone on to play drums and that’s it. It’s a pretty slim production as far as personnel goes. So, it’s probably the most peaceful big-time studio experience ever, if you’re not a people person.

The production is very cold and muted with a very mid-toned distorted snare throughout, consistent with the trappings of the sound Manson tends to go for. There are some pretty tinny and abrasive frequencies, but it actually works for this kind of flat and distorted sound that’s deliberately being used here. The good thing is the ideas and levels of production stay consistent from the album’s beginning to end. The production stakes its claim in what it wants to say and it does not waver. Producer Bates and Manson are clear with their intentions and deliver with precision.

Out of the ten tracks there aren’t any super-weak moments – any song could end up on a soundtrack in a terrible action or horror movie. Even the eight-minute long song “Saturnalia” is halfway decent and I despise long and drawn-out songs. “Revelation #12” starts the record off strong. “We Know Where You Fucking Live” might remind fans of the earlier discography, the records Trent Reznor helped produce. The title track, I hate to say it, reminds me of a good Danzig song, and I don’t mean that as a joke either. Marilyn Manson, in spite of being a parody of himself at times, is out there making records, selling tickets, and shocking people, even still today, some 25 years later, in the hostile, ultra-politically-correct environment of 2018. Who would have thought that possible? And Heaven Upside Down is Marilyn Manson’s best record since Antichrist Superstar.

Marilyn Manson
Heaven Upside Down
[Loma Vista]