Marilyn Manson has kept fans waiting for his tenth album, initially suggesting a Valentine’s Day release in 2017. Eight months, several flashy Instagram videos and two singles later, Heaven Upside Down was released with a moody greyscale album cover that may have been inspired by Adele’s 25. The two pre-release singles, “We know where you f***ing live” and “Kill4Me”, are a definite departure from Manson’s 2015 album, The Pale Emperor, and have been noted as reminiscent of the work on Mechanical Animals (1998), along with the rest of the album. The video for “We know where you f***ing live” is pretty old-school Manson in its make-up of overt violence and subversive nuns bearing AK-47s, but its message of radical disruption, as captured in the lyrics “We’re gonna burn it down and when we’re done they won’t even recognise your corpse”, seems pertinent in the current US context. “Kill4Me” has been described as a love song and it is in its way, showing the seemingly alternative and pathological possibilities of love, in this way linking to the album’s final track, “Threats of romance”.
Throughout the ten-track album, clever puns and familiar themes of drugs, guns, biblical references and alchemy abound. There is also a fragility embodied by the artist that is most evident in the final three tracks “Blood honey”, the titular “Heaven upside down”, and “Threats of romance”. This ostensible glimpse into the inner life of Marilyn Manson is supported by the awareness of his performance and projected image in acknowledging the listener or the audience and his process in no fewer than three tracks on the album. Elements of EDM are intensely prevalent throughout Heaven Upside Down’s recognisable track list of rebel anthems and oblivion, making The Pale Emperor look stripped-down and bluesy by comparison. One of the few tracks that isn’t quite so reliant on EDM is “Saturnalia”, at just under eight minutes in length, it hearkens to a bygone era with at least one middle finger raised (this is Manson, after all). The only real let-down of Heaven Upside Down is that at a total running time of 47 minutes and 32 seconds, it’s over too soon. The fact that you are left wanting more is probably what Manson was aiming for (“You’re f***ing welcome”, he says in “Revelation #12”).