By Mackenzie Dineen – Arts Editor
Released on October 6, Marilyn Manson’s “Heaven Upside Down” can hardly be referred to as Heaven, whether turned on its head or not. Manson’s great variety of styles are his claim to fame, but most fans can agree that his choices have wavered in strength over the past ten years. Since his new pop-oriented image displayed on previous album “Born Villain”, Manson had a rather large bout of success when he paced himself with a more steady sound fitted to his age.
“Heaven Upside Down,” however, is a hybrid of his many new images. The result is a sharp medley of confusing and underwhelming songs. While singles “KILL4ME” and “WE KNOW WHERE YOU ******* LIVE,” deliver an exhilarating edge, they don’t quite compensate for the watered down content of the album.
Heavy beats and rhythmic basslines, featured on the vast majority of the album’s tracks, provide a catchy and enticing introduction. Paired with generally straight-forward vocals, the focus falls on the lyrics in absence of a strong lead guitar, or synthetic melody. Manson’s lyrical content is nowhere near as impressive as it was during his triptych days. He recites verse after verse of prosaic word play and buzz-word violence, lacking the clever satire he was once renowned for.
Thrashing breakdowns, news samples and unique effects are the saving grace for “Heaven Upside Down.” However, the track “SAY10” does allow fans something to celebrate. An unexpected trap beat is layered with whispered poetry to set the stage for loud, shrieking choruses that are emblematic of Manson’s best work. It is comforting to know that Manson is still capable of performing his signature sound.
“Heaven Upside Down” is controversial without a cause. With themes of undirected aggression, romantic partner-in-crime mentality and a degree of self-destruction founded upon arrogance, the album in its entirety is less elegant than Manson’s usual empire-establishing content. Where is the story? Where is the tragedy?
Although another body of work is always exciting for an artist with such an elephantine following, “Heaven Upside Down” does not remind me why I ever started listening to Manson. New listeners and fans should skip this album altogether.