The career trajectory of Marilyn Manson can be a funny and depressing thing to view from a distance. Once the face of dark and edgy industrial rock, the band Marilyn Manson and Brian Warner aka Marilyn Manson aka The God of Fuck himself has been stuck in ceaseless free-fall for the majority of the last 15 years. But a series of freak accidents, a horrible album and an even more horrible backstory to longtime bassist Jeordie “Twiggy Ramirez” Osbourne White surfacing has now threatened to shoot this band’s already floundering status point blank in the face. In the last month, we’ve seen the inevitable rock bottom for this band and there really isn’t anywhere forward to move from at this moment in time. But first, maybe we should recap some of Marilyn Manson’s (the band and the man) long and storied history of failures that led here.
In 2003, coming off of the #1 selling The Golden Age of Grotesque (an album that at it’s time of release was unequivocally the worst of his career), Manson went on an ego trip of rotating cast changes. Guitarist John 5 and Manson got into a fight onstage at the Rock am Ring festival in Germany, the video of which is fucking hilarious to see these two makeup smeared mooks square up before getting on with the song.
So gone was John 5, Twiggy had also left the year prior, leaving it up to Swedish glam metal-come-German industrial electro rock shapeshifter Tim Skold to take over songwriting, guitar and bass work in the band. Tim Skold started out as a 1980’s glam metal transvestite in his band Shotgun Messiah (fucking hilariously awful band, with some of the gayest band photos of all time… even by 1980’s glam metal standards). He then shifted to industrial metal and electro-industrial with his work in KMFDM beginning with their classic Symbols record. However, once he was working with Manson, it spawned 2007’s flop Eat Me, Drink Me. With that record, Manson decided to adopt an image akin to the mid-2000’s emo mallcore pussy movement and began shrieking out crap like “If I Was Your Vampire” and “You and Me and The Devil Makes 3”. It may remain his worst album of all time. After that came more lineup shifting, Stephen “Pogo/Madonna Wayne Gacy” Bier (do these guys have enough fucking pseudonyms?) left the band on bad terms, Skold left and Twiggy returned, former Nine Inch Nails drummer Chris Vrenna joined on keyboards and then longtime drummer Kenneth “Ginger Fish” Wilson left. Ginger Fish and John 5 would later reunite to become Rob Zombie’s backing band. Because once you’ve played for one washed up, past their prime, vaguely industrial rock singer with a stupid name, you can easily transition to another I guess.
In this time, Manson would release a series of increasingly poorly received albums in The High End of Low (2009) and Born Villain (2012) with Twiggy being the main songwriter. I don’t think these albums are as bad as Eat Me, Drink Me but they’re non-essential listens that only raving fanboys could defend. It was after all this that Manson seemed destined for the has-been wash-up pile for good, but beyond all expectations came a new main songwriter, lead guitarist and composer in Tyler Bates (hey, that’s actually his name this time, what a shocker). With Tyler Bates, Manson would concoct another radical sound shift with his 2015 release The Pale Emperor. This album drew from blues with shuffle rhythms being prominent, and to everyone’s surprise (including mine) it was actually a good record. It really was, Marilyn Manson’s best record since Holy Wood way back in the pre-9/11 days when Marilyn Manson was actually considered a threat to the fabric of American society. I’d also like to mention really quick that I saw Marilyn Manson live in the year 2009, and he was awful. You can look up a review of that in the archives here, he was doomed to perform following Slayer and ended up coming off as a joke. An ill advised, horribly performed joke.
So let’s get to 2017 already. Last year, Manson began hyping up a new album to be released on Valentine’s day titled… SAY 10. Oh Manson, you just think you’re so deep and witty, don’t you? He then followed up the historic Donald Trump election by releasing a 2 minute clip of the song “SAY 10” set to a video of him decapitating Donald Trump. Again, finger on the pulse of social trends there Manson, real deep meaningful stuff to go along with that stupid fucking “When you say god, I SAY SATAN!” chorus. And of course, Valentine’s day came and went with no SAY 10 album and no projected release dates either. Manson spent the summer doing drunken red carpet interviews where he announced the album was now Heaven Upside Down (well it’s a better title than fucking SAY 10), and then gave some drunken live performances of new songs from the album along with drunken awful renditions of the same 10 singles the band’s been playing at ever live show they do in the last 10 years. Then sometimes, he didn’t even know what the fuck he was doing onstage.
Words can’t even describe whatever the hell was going on in that video, so just watch it. To say this was a mess is making light of the situation. To move through the rest of the events that led up to this past month, Marilyn Manson went on your typical new album and tour campaign that most bands would do. Heaven Upside Down was announced for release on October 6th and the first single from the album would be released on that day that usual controversy baiters like Slayer strive for, good old September 11th. On September 11th, Marilyn Manson unleashed “WE KNOW WHERE YOU FUCKING LIVE” on the world… I’ll give everyone a moment to laugh, sigh or just shake their heads and move along. “WE KNOW WHERE YOU FUCKING LIVE”, title in all caps for extra edgy attention whoring obnoxiousness, is a complete fucking self parody of what you’d expect for a single from Marilyn Manson from an album originally called SAY 10. Derivative and generic “industrial” rock guitars and disaffected vocals, uninteresting things to say, and that isn’t even getting to the main reason why this song truly sucks ass, the music video. The medium through which Marilyn Manson once captivated and antagonized audiences.
I don’t know how anyone could enjoy a piece of garbage like that. “WE KNOW WHERE YOU FUCKING LIVE” the music video features a gun toting Manson leading a crowd of heavily armed and heavily sexualized women in nuns outfits through a neighborhood committing terrorism, before breaking into a home and sexually assaulting a family. Yeah, nothing screams edgy and tryhard like this coming from a nearly 50 year old man. This video just screams cheesy, overly-offensive for the sake of being overly-offensive, and just flat out lame as all hell like a fat middle aged makeup smeared Manson coasting airborne over a line of sharks. It sucks. In fact, it sucked so much that Manson released a different song with an equally embarrassing title “KILL4ME” (AGAIN ALL CAPS 4 EMFASIS!!!) to be the radio and chart lead single. “KILL4ME” has currently outpeaked “The Beautiful People”, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)” and “Rock Is Dead” on the rock charts but will still never receive a fraction of what those songs still attain in airtime, streaming plays or Youtube viewings. But we really still haven’t gotten to the worst parts about Heaven Upside Down just yet.
So this technically happened at 11 PM on the last day of September 2017, but this is where we’re beginning the explanation of why October 2017 might mean the end of the career of Marilyn Manson, after 1300 words in this article. At a concert at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, Manson began scaling a tower holding prop pistols during “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)” and the tower toppled under Manson’s middle age weightiness and downward onto him. Thankfully, Manson survived this accident relatively unscathed with a broken leg and a ride to the hospital, but it didn’t go undocumented, and forced a cancellation of his tour in support of the upcoming official but already widely available on the internet release of Heaven Upside Down. While it was really his own damn fault and worth poking fun at for now, it really set the tone for what was going to happen next.
So back to Heaven Upside Down, this album was officially (read: legally) released on October 6, so now let’s get to the critical beating down that this album is fully deserving of. It starts out with “Relevation #12”, a thoroughly boring song where he forgets that the number 11 exists when he counts to 12 for the chorus, between warning that there’s no fucking players in this fucking game and explaining that tourists’ blood paints his town red. Really, the only highlights of this album are the completely stupid phrases Manson throws out in some of the songs here, with other low lights that I’ll explain in further detail. In “Tattooed in Reverse”, Manson says “I’m unstable, I’m not a show horse, I can’t be bridled of course”… Fucking seriously? Still not even the stupidest lyric here. “SAY 10” actually got a second music video with a sexy nun again, this time masturbating while Manson and Johnny Depp act like a couple of menacing, makeup caked 50 year old embarrassments and try to look hard while lyrics like “Cocaine and abel” and “When you say god, I SAY SATAN!!!11!1!” blast around the utterly unmemorable music. Some pointed out that Manson featured “trap beats” in this song, and by “trap beats”, I mean “trap beats” to white suburban kids who have never heard a record by UGK or 8 Ball and MJG. This shit is just fucking terrible.
Now while there really aren’t any vaguely passable tracks on this album, I guess the sprawling “Saturnalia” attempts to be interesting music-wise, and the final two tracks might just seem more tolerable than the preceding 8 songs because you know the album is over soon, I still haven’t started to talk about the single worst song here. That award belongs to the hilariously stupid and most unaware attempt at a self parody here in the song… “JE$U$ CRI$I$”. Yeah, that’s how the title is supposed to be written. For all the stupid titles in the Marilyn Manson discography, from “Baboon Rape Party” to “Arma-Goddamn-Motherfucking-Geddon”, there really isn’t a worse title in the entire thing. A metalcore band of autistic edgelord teenagers wouldn’t even think to name their song “JE$U$ CRI$I$”, but an alcoholic and delusional 50 year old Marilyn Manson totally would. Then we get to the song’s main hook: “I write songs to fight and fuck to, if you wanna fight I’ll fight you, if you wanna fuck I’ll fuck you”. Just here’s the image of a face slapping against a palm in utter embarrassment for anyone who ever fucking liked this shitty ass song. This is coming from a guy who once sung actually edgy and actually controversial lyrics like “We’re talk shown and pointing like Christians at a suicide” and “Everybody’s someone else’s nigger” and not only coupled them with amazing music, but also made people fucking think because songs like “Irresponsible Hate Anthem” and “I Don’t Like the Drugs but the Drugs Like Me” not only featured greater context that made these lyrics mean something, and even make fans think, but they also featured great music to go along with them. “JE$U$ CRI$I$” is probably the worst song Marilyn Manson has ever pumped out, and it’s really the lowest end of low.
To give an album rating to Heaven Upside Down, it’s say…2/10… oh wait. SAY 2/SAY 10 *
(for reference: I still give Eat Me, Drink Me a 0/10, there is nothing there at all, period)
Marilyn Manson sat around his house in Hollywood recovering from his leg injury for the rest of October, so the rest of these reasons for the demise of Marilyn Manson (the band, remember) do not blame him, they don’t have anything to do with him really, it’s just very disturbing and unfortunate news.
Scott “Daisy Berkowitz” Putesky died on October 22, 2017 after fighting stage four cancer for years. He was not mentioned in the torrent of former members of Marilyn Manson with goofy pseudonyms because he left after recording Anitchrist Superstar, a baffling and tragic career decision that led to a very short stint for Zim Zum on the tour before John 5 became Marilyn Manson’s main guitar player and composer. He also probably left because of the antagonism of members of the band Marilyn Manson at the time, which also might explain some other things later on, but anyway, Daisy Berkowitz basically was Marilyn Manson in the beginning. He made all the music and Marilyn Manson sang his lyrics over it. That’s it. Nowadays it’s Marilyn Manson sings his lyrics over it, and Tyler Bates writes all the music. They called their band Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids after Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson of course, all the way back in 1989. Brian Warner is actually a northeast Ohio representing motherfucker from Canton, but he moved to Florida and started making music with Scott Putseky. Scott wrote nearly all of Portrait of An American Family aside from the intro track of Manson talking over Pogo’s samples and the song “Sweet Tooth”, which was written by Pogo and Gidget Gein (who is also dead). But Berkowitz also wrote the most memorable songs of Marilyn Manson’s entire career on Antichrist Superstar before leaving. He helped write “Irresponsible Hate Anthem”, “Tourniquet” and “The Man You Fear” before he left the band. And Scott “Daisy Berkowitz” Putesky would be at #1 in my list for people to replace the following person responsible for the most shocking news in the recent times for the band Marilyn Manson.
Fuck Jeordie “Twiggy Ramirez” Osbourne White. We all know what happened with him by now. Jessicka (again with these names) from Jack Off Jill revealed what happened during their very bad relationship in the 1990’s. It’s very graphic and real stuff that you can find on your own, the articles are all out there. Twiggy was kicked out of Marilyn Manson today due to the revelation. Now this doesn’t mean go burn your copies of Manson CDs and albums, or Thirteenth Step by A Perfect Circle or the Beside You in Time concert DVD from Nine Inch Nails, but the guy’s career is over and he was a piece of shit. The weird bit about all this news was that it broke before Scott’s death, Manson then had corroborated Jessicka’s story and had followed it up paying tribute to Scott’s death and legacy in the band of Marilyn Manson. Then he said Twiggy was done with the band for good.
Now at the same time, it might seem like a good thing that Marilyn Manson is currently confined to the rest of having a broken leg. He isn’t dealing with a flopping album, kicking out his longest serving member for very publicly visible and horrendous problems, the co-founding member of the band died in the middle of all this mess while being on a tour which would have certainly been filled with humiliatingly awful live performances on par with what has been offered in the last decade. It could have been worse if Manson decided to break Twiggy’s neck onstage, though no one would have felt bad about it. Manson himself has taken a pretty stable and dignified tone in responding to all these recent events while he’s been sidelined from touring his new album, and I actually hope he comes out the better for it. For people who should replace Twiggy, our choices are most likely all the same: John 5, Tim Skold or former Nine Inch Nails and A Perfect Circle bassist Danny Lohner, the only person to have played bass guitar for Trent Reznor and Maynard James Keenan who hasn’t yet played bass guitar for Marilyn Manson.
May 2018 bring a better 29th year to Marilyn Manson the band, who are in desperate need of rebuilding but their leader’s sidelining may have saved them in the legacy department. I don’t think October 2017 will kill Marilyn Manson if being blamed for the actual problems in American society did one time.