Marilyn Manson has been in the musical spotlight since the 1990’s with his cutting-edge antics and catchy tracks that were both socially conscious, and incredibly produced. He influenced pop culture and managed to shift genres at an incredible rate with each album release, breaking the boundaries on a mainstream level. In a modern world, Manson translates well with the incoming wave of new shocking artists who have tried to out-do him time time again. His newest record, Heaven Upside Down is by no means shocking, as a matter of fact it is quite the opposite. Manson has not completely lost its edge, but it has become a much more dull piece if it is being approached as so.
Heaven Upside Down is not going to blow the roofs off of churches and shock parents as Manson did at the height of his career. Now, Manson is more of a shuffling ghost, but this is actually perfect for how he is transitioning from album to album. His last piece, The Pale Emperor was one of Manson’s best releases in years where he could take a steady, but mostly down-tempo approach to the majority of the songs that relied on noise and effects to get the general, ominous sound. On Heaven Upside Down, Manson takes elements from his previous albums in both The Pale Emperor, Born Villain, and even Mechanical Animals where the industrial and abrasive style is toned down and instead turned in for a much more humanistic, more personal Manson. The production on Heaven Upside Down is lovely, and the actual instruments that are used sound better than ever as they are crisp and catchy. From the synths that fill the room like a smoke-screen to the guitars that cut through the silence like a knife. Manson’s sense of serious danger might not exist within himself anymore as the culture has shifted and become more callus, but the catchy tracks and the damning sound is still there behind him.
Manson begins with “Revelation #12”, the heaviest track on Heaven Upside Down and at first impression felt like a quick, grinding hell-ride of noisy feedback that is mixed with a shouting Manson over an industrial styled production. It is a natural progression in Manson as he changes as an artist and begins to form new ideas that he changes his entire style, while keeping a consistent and iconic sense of technique. Manson’s style is something that can be recognized instantly even after being changed throughout his near twenty-five years in the industry. The grinding style that the first three tracks adopt is similar to Born Villain but with a new twist in the way that he integrates more computerized sounds and takes serious notes from the noise-era in music. He works well with taking all these incredible elements of music, shifting them to become his own and to work exactly for him.
In a track like “SAY10”, Manson is residing more towards his area of shocking style, but it just comes off as a little comedic. This was one of the tracks that stands out for how violent and sadistic the instrumental and production is behind Manson’s voice, but his lyrics are bordering on the line of cliché as he describes, “You say ‘God’ and I say ‘SAY10’”. The words are not really one of the strong suits of the album as the instrumentals are the main thing that moves the storyboard along, while Manson delivers some just okay lyrics within his tracks. A track like “KILL4ME” was another that stood out for how the production sounds like a twisted Depeche Mode with the shining synths that play over Manson’s twisted lyrics, “Would you kill, kill, kill for me? I love you enough to ask again”.
There are moments where Heaven Upside Down does truly shine, and these are the parts in which the mighty bird can spread its wings and fly. In other times, it just feels like another Manson album and does not really have the same impact it did when his shock was the main attraction to his music, but the incredible lyrics and movie-esque production made the whole experience worth it. Manson still has these aspects, but they are toned down; the shock has now been released after so many artists have taken what he created and shifted it to become darker than ever imagined. He still creates fantastic music, but the shock god has left the building, and does not show much signs of coming back.
The Destroyer // Listen Here – Soundcloud
Marilyn Manson, the king of controversy shifts gears more than any artist in his field. He is able to blend like the chameleon, able to hide behind the veil of genre and create true masterpieces of stylish artwork. Manson is a true genius behind his craft and his step into Glam/Industrial Rock, Mechanical Animals was the first real true musical love that I faced, the teeth being sheathed behind a pale grin; the beautiful instrumental pieces that would draw me in and make Marilyn Manson a household name for myself. Mechanical Animals is the first album that I truly felt wrapped inside and totally immersed within.
From the Antichrist Superstar, to the strange outer-space being simply named Omēga (Oh Me Ga), Manson adapts to an entirely new persona and with it comes a new style of being. Mechanical Animals opens with “Great Big White World”, a disassociated and dislocated track that follows the outsider who looks into the society with wide eyes. The guitar that suddenly plucks in seemingly iconic with the album as it sets the first, strange turn that Manson took with the production of the album. Taking in everything he can, the protagonist that “Great Big White World” shadows is one that does not truly understand the surroundings; Manson explains, “I’m not attached to your world, nothing heals and nothing grows. Because it’s a great big white world, and we are drained of our colors. We used to love ourselves, we used to love one another”. There are moments of real beauty behind Manson and the band that plays behind him, from the synths that are the heavy focus of most of the tracks, to the riffs of the bass and guitars that create ringing harmonies of glam glory.
While Marilyn Manson took a much different sound with Mechanical Animals, he still does feature some of the grinding industrial style that was present on Antichrist Superstar, with “Rock Is Dead”, Manson takes the shrieking guitars and pounding percussion to a new level as he shouts “Rock is deader than dead, shock is all in your head. Your sex and your dope is al that were fed, so fuck all your protests and put them to bed…Anything to belong.” It is the first track that takes a more up-beat clash of cymbals and noise that crash like waves and then suddenly fall into “Disassociative”, a track that entirely switches the style of sound once again and becomes a confessional piece behind an exaggerative and dramatic reading of slowed instrumentals, along with Manson describing, “I can never get out of here, I don’t wanna just float in fear, a dead astronaut in space.” Manson’s lyrical styling on Mechanical Animals is much less shocking, but feels as impactful for the way that it captures the total feeling of isolation. The feeling of being an outsider and never being able to fully understand the society around his character is unbelievably relatable, and when paired with the downright magnificent sounds that come from Manson’s backing band is just incredible. It feels like a movie that is being played with the vast world of imagery and dialogue that Manson delivers with each following track.
With the large commercial hit, “I Don’t Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me)”, Manson adopts a nice funk groove that plays behind his 1970’s love letter to David Bowie’s Young Americans, Manson becomes a stumbling mess as he describes, “There’s a hole in out soul that we fill with dope and we’re feeling fine”, with a chorus of soul style singers behind him that repeat, “Don’t like the drugs, the drugs, the drugs”. This then floods into “New Model No. 15 where Manson takes to chanting and becoming more straight-forward as the synths play a catchy little riff before letting Manson describe, “Like-life and pose-able, hopeless and disposable, I’m the new, I’m the new, new model, I’ve got nothing inside.” Manson begins to move faster as he hits three tracks in rapid succession. Each track becomes a quick transition from “New Model No. 15”, “User Friendly”, and the suddenly slow “Fundamentally Loathsome” where Manson adopts to an Amy Winehouse styled crawl where the final act begins to show its head.
Mechanical Animals creeps toward the close like a slithering snake full of passion, “Fundamentally Loathsome” becomes one of the most impactful and memorable tracks off the record for the way that the instrumental production just shines as a beacon amidst the darkness that clouds Manson’s discography. This can also be said about the closer, “Coma White” which was not only a huge success for Manson, but it also a wonderful closer that captures the spirit and style of Mechanical Animals with a sullen, almost sunken track that is nearly bleak behind the beauty. Manson describes, “You were from a perfect world, a world that threw me away… A pill to make you numb, a pill to make you dumb, a pill to make you anybody else”. The feedback from the instruments then drowns the noise and becomes a silent journey into the AIDS of Space.
Resonating within the social commentary of Manson’s drug-filled peers and even a mirroring opinion on himself, Mechanical Animals becomes a still-relevant discussion today through the topic of fame, narcotics, and how people are perceived. He is a diverse character that can create new worlds from his pen; as one chapter closes, yet another opens.
THE MAYOR OF NEW YORK // Listen/Watch Here – Youtube
HEALTHYSESH // Listen Here – Soundcloud
Marilyn Manson is a controversial figure in Rock n’ Roll’s long, but distorted history. There is no one sound for rock music anymore, the lines are blurred and scattered; Marilyn Manson is an artist that entirely destroyed genre through his career and managed to create an incredible amount of attention for his second studio release, Antichrist Superstar. The harsh lyrics, brash imagery, and no compassion for the audience left Manson in a continual spotlight for his intelligence, bravery, and fear of none.
With an album titled Antichrist Superstar, some sort of hellish imagery has to flash in the mind of the reader, the cover art which features a heavily disturbed imaged of scabbed wings, distortion around the face and eyes, and the words, “Heart”, “Mind”, “Complacent”, and “Malice” in a four-part directional map for the album. Manson begins this masterpiece with “Irresponsible Hate Anthem”, a track that is by no means as shocking as it was when it was released in 1996; but the stings of the blitzing guitar and smashing percussion that is accompanied by a somehow charismatic lyricist that shouts and yells his approach directly into the microphone. His lyrics as stated before, are simply brash and animalistic, Manson sees the American public as a target for his musical bullet and without warning dives into discussing homicide, death, rape, and society in a quick daze of poetry. His chorus describes, “Everybody’s someone else’s nigger, I know you are, so am I. I wasn’t born with enough middle fingers; I don’t need to choose a side”. In a display of what can only be described as a fireworks display of chaos, Manson wastes no time moving into the following track, a grinding example of how productive talent can create a catchy, but sadistic cut.
“The Beautiful People” takes a similar approach as it moves between the consistent yelling of Manson, and the odd, but smile-inducing chorus that plays behind him. The twisted imagery that the iconic drum beat and the awe-inspiring bass riffs that still to this day play over and over again on stereos everywhere as an Industrial Rock anthem. Manson paved a way with his style that many artists would try to follow, but have a troubling time being as cutting edge and as sharp as Manson. It is apparent throughout all of Antichrist Superstar, but it is especially true on how he can take the production from Trent Reznor, and shift it into something completely unforgettable as both a piece of music history, and as a piece of controversial shaping of society.
It is on the later track, “Kinderfeld” where Manson reveals another side as he takes a slower approach, but still keeps the same stabbing style of his earlier tracks. It is explained through the chorus that Manson’s main character in the storyline of Antichrist Superstar that there is a serious transformation happening, “Then I got my wings, and I never even knew it. When I was a worm, thought I couldn’t get through it”. As the main character is pictured in this helpless villain, to a now sprouting animal of malicious intent, The track eventually becomes a chanting display of “This is what you should fear, you are what you should fear”. Which, then transfers Manson into the self-titled track, “Antichrist Superstar”, a deviously exciting ride of political-esque chants that reign into the chorus and verses of, “Prick your finger, it is done. The moon has now eclipsed the sun, Angel has spread its wings, the time has come for bitter things. Repent, that’s what I’m talking about, I shed the skin to feed the fake. Repent, that’s what I’m talking about, whose mistake am I anyway?”. Behind this hydra of sound, comes the operatic chorus that plays throughout the track and shines on the final moments where a robotic vocalist repeats in multiple voices, “When you are suffering, know that I have betrayed you”.
In a final moment of retribution, Marilyn Manson takes Antichrist Superstar into a moment of peace with “Man That You Fear”, a slowed, deep cut that closes off the pages of the story of the Worm, the Angel Re-born, the character that Manson portrays so well. It is a social commentary on society and while Manson is a musical legend that has made a career in the shocking; he can also be quite beautiful and impactful as well.