Once upon a time, Marilyn Manson was America’s number one public enemy. Today, America has much bigger things to worry about, and The God of Fuck’s future in the country’s pantheon of counter-cultural icons is unclear. In a post-Trump world, Heaven Upside Down’s litany of guns, sex and death is predictable at best, and downright irresponsible at worst.
That’s not to say it doesn’t have its moments. ‘Threats Of Romance’, ‘Blood Honey’ and ‘KILL4ME’ are all sexy in a soundtrack-to-a-vampire-movie kind of way, and are the only points where the album dares to come close to introspection. Likewise, the tracks that ditch pretense in service of good old-fashioned riffs are better off for it; ‘Tattooed In Reverse’ has undeniable swagger, and the title track’s flirtation with honest to god goth rock is infuriatingly good.
Even the industrial-tinged desolation of ‘SAY10’ and ‘Saturnalia’ are enough to make you wonder whether the original project, abandoned sometime after its predicted Valentine’s Day release date, would have been a better or worse effort than the one we ended up with. Listening to ‘JESUS CRI$I$’, with its infantile wordplay and gun fetishisation, it is hard not to conclude that any previous version would’ve been an improvement.
In short; Heaven Upside Down doesn’t have the mass panic-inducing, unapologetic force of Manson’s earlier work, nor the subtle artistry of 2015’s The Pale Emperor. However, it is a solid shock rock album made by a giant of the genre, and maybe that’s enough.
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