It’s not turning anything upside-down at all, really.
Back in the late ’90s, there weren’t very many figures as “influential” to a demented teenage mindset as Marilyn Manson. So much so, he was even made the cultural scapegoat for the Columbine shootings and other instances of “white boy rage,” his music to blame for producing an army of angst-ridden youth looking to exert anger through violence. But that was years ago. That schtick, the “in-your-face existence based on shock value” schtick, isn’t all that needed anymore. Manson’s music definitely had its heyday, but that heyday ended along with calendar years long ago.
Preconceived notions and fallen stage props aside, Heaven Upside Down is pretty decent … for what it is. Where the album shines is with its musical production itself. Manson makes strong attempts at keeping a very drawn out, goth-style of vocality relevant, but most of the tracks on Heaven Upside Down would be lustier as heavy industrial instrumentals than anything else.
“Revelation #12” quickly establishes a focus on Manson’s desire to prove he can still do what he used to be able to. Over pounding distortion, Manson evokes choral-like singing in a way that sets the pace for the rest of the album. The next song, ‘Tattoo in Reverse,” has very rhythmic tones, and “Say10” does a lot of the same.
Aside from the music tones, Heaven Upside Down is “powerful” with its shocking lyrics. On “Jesus Cri$i$,” Manson does much of what he used to in regards to using words as a weapon for attentiveness. A choice to listen to Manson’s words in this song reveals how much he hasn’t shifted in his resignation for disturbance or evoking triggering imagery. In this he says “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.” Anyone with any sort of attentive thinking can see the worrying vernacular and message in his lyrics. That’s not to say that his songs always haven’t conveyed that sort of trouble, but in modern times it means something even more severe, and he doesn’t seem to give any amount of shit about it.
For his 10th album, Heaven Upside Down is decent. It’s fair. But what a modern world needs out of Manson isn’t necessarily what was needed of him over a decade ago. It’s entirely extra in everything about it and since Manson himself isn’t known to have the best reputation, it’s interesting to see how there’s still relevance in his output. We all can’t be stars in the dope show forever, but at least he’s still trying.