Marilyn Manson

Notable Releases of 2017

2017 is almost over and it’s time to look back at the music, both good and bad. Before we get to best and worst, I wanted to look back at some albums that left the biggest impressions on me. This is based on what I sought out and listened to this year, so my list will most likely be different from yours.

Album I Enjoyed Way More Than I Thought I Would:

Dreamcar – Dreamcar

When it was revealed that the members of No Doubt who aren’t Gwen Stefani and Davey Havock were working together I was intrigued and confused. What kind of music would they make together? Turns out 80s new wave. While I wasn’t impressed with the first single, when I listened to Dreamcar it took me by surprise how much fun it was. It’s not a great album and it doesn’t give us anything we haven’t heard before, but some of the songs are irresistible. Tracks like “After I Confessed,” “All the Dead Girls,” and “Do Nothing” are so catchy you can’t help but sing and dance along. The album is a blatant homage to the 80s, but at least the band had fun with it. The energy and spirit are so infectious. It seems like Havok put more effort into recording this LP than he did for AFI. Dreamcar doesn’t do anything new, but it’s great for letting loose and having fun.

Album I Had Low Expectations For But Fucking Loved:

Heaven Upside Down – Marilyn Manson

When Marilyn Manson announced Say10 last year, I was ecstatic. His last two efforts were solid and I couldn’t wait to hear what he had in store for us next. But with a big delay and a lead single that left me unimpressed, my expectations began to shrink. Every time he mentioned how the album goes back to the days of Antichrist Superstar I rolled my eyes. We heard this before with High End of Low and that album is pretty bad. I didn’t think I’d like Heaven Upside Down, but man, I fucking love it.

This is hardcore, aggressive, brutal Manson that scared us back in 1996. The songs are violent and dark in the best ways possible. And for once, he was actually right. The album does have traces of Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals, but it never feels like he’s ripping himself off. He just manages to recapture the feeling of those albums.

After hearing the single “We Know Where You Fucking Live” I was worried he was trying too hard to be edgy. Luckily, this isn’t the case (at least not with every song). Instead, he sounds genuine, like he has a fire lit under him once again. This is classic Manson and the music grabs you by the throat waiting to rip out your lungs until it’s over. Heaven Upside Down is a stellar album that reminds me why I became a fan in the first place. This is the finest album Manson’s later career and proves he’s still has a lot to say.

Disappointing Album of 2017:

AFI (The Blood Album) – AFI

AFI was one of the few releases I was pumped for when the year kicked off. Not only did their cryptic teasing get me excited, but I loved what I heard with singles like “White Offerings” and “Snow Cats.” These songs felt like a return to form and I couldn’t wait to hear the new album. But once I finally got my hands on it, it was a letdown. Most of the songs aren’t exciting or memorable. Tracks like “Still a Stranger,” “Hidden Knives,” and “So Beneath You” aren’t awful. But there’s very little about them that grabs you like great AFI songs are supposed to do. Everything I love about AFI, like their charm, melancholy, and their in your face nature are missing from this album. Even almost a year later I struggle to remember these songs aside from the singles.

For me, it has nothing to do with their new, lighter sound. I actually don’t mind it. While I do miss the days of Sing the Sorrow, I like that they constantly evolve and experiment with new sounds. But this album just didn’t do it for me. Rather than being something that sticks with you, it’s a pretty unremarkable experience. These are just decent generic rock songs and we expect better from AFI at this point. Unfortunately, it’s some of their weakest material in years making for an album that’s tolerable, yet kind of dull. While I don’t mind listening to the album, it’s just overwhelmingly okay and since I was so excited to hear what AFI had in store after Burials, it was the album that disappointed me the most this year.

Underrated Release of 2017:

<shutdown.exe> – 3Teeth

This is the result if Ministry and Nine Inch Nails had a baby. 3Teeth take you back to the old days of industrial metal that’s brutal, violent, and just a bit scary. Not for the faint of heart.

If you want to know which album is on my shit list this year, check back later this week when I reveal what my worst album of 2017 is.

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Heaven Upside Down – Marilyn Manson

 

Release Year: 2017

Rating: 8.5/10

When Marilyn Manson announced his new album Say10 last year, I was pretty excited. His last albums were great and I was itching to hear new music from him. But when the album didn’t show up on Valentine’s Day I slowly grew disinterested. My expectations got lower after hearing the first two singles. But once I got my hands on Heaven Upside Down, I found myself faced with the old Manson that scared and fascinated me as a teen. While there are some definite nods to some of his greatest albums it doesn’t feel like a rehash of what he’s already done. Rather it’s biting, violent, brutal, and mean just how we like it.

The album opens with the banger “Revelation #12.” If you thought Manson was washed up this song makes you think differently. The music is hard-hitting and gritty while the guitar riff snarls and growls. Manson sounds brutal as he screams “We’ll paint the town red/with the blood of the tourists.” It sounds like the old angry Manson that grabbed us by our throats in the 90s. It’s a killer way to kick off the album and lays down the groundwork for what comes next.

“Tattooed in Reverse” has to be my favorite song from the album. The way it starts with a pounding march and how Manson comes out the gate swinging with “So fuck your bible and your babel” is so badass. It has this undeniable swagger to it as if Manson already knows the song is a hit. The music crushes you with its heavy sound and intense atmosphere. It’s a stellar track with Manson displaying his unapologetic nature and biting commentary.

Say10” caught me off guard with the muted opening beat – it sounds like something from a hip-hop song, but it works. Manson’s sinister growl and the music sets up this dangerous lurking vibe. Everything explodes during the hook with Manson screaming “You say God/I say Say10” with dirty riffs that are both brutal and sexy. Though the title isn’t as clever as Manson hopes it is, it’s a standout song. It has the same fire as his best work and holds you in its grasp.

In press interviews, Manson said one of the central pieces of the LP was “Saturnalia” and I can see why. It is a beast of a song. It starts with an eerie “This is Saturnalia” mumbled backwards followed by the thick grooving bass line. The music rumbles building up to a bigger sound in the first couple of minutes. It’s actually reminiscent of something like “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” with the dark music and slow build up. Even the riff during the verse is similar. The way everything creeps along, how the music hits you during the hook, and Manson’s singing makes it sound dangerous, yet alluring. Clocking in over seven minutes, the song never grows dull. There are so many elements and layers and different sounds happening it always keeps you on edge. It’s the highlight of the album and one of his strongest songs in years.

I didn’t really like lead single “We Know Where You Fucking Live” when I first heard it. While it’s brash and perfectly fits in with the aggressive, violent tone of the album, it feels like Manson trying too hard to be shocking. It grows on you after a while and there is the clever lyric “So what’s a nice place like this, doing round people like us,” but it’s far from the best song on the album. Same goes for “Kill4Me.” Taking a departure from the intense sound of the rest of the record, this one has an electropop beat that’s upbeat and kind of catchy. Again, not a terrible song, but it’s one of the weakest the album has to offer. These songs don’t have that same drive and punch of the others. They’re easy to gloss over when listening to the LP.

The songs that close out the album aren’t all that memorable either. “Blood Honey” plays out like an eerie Gothic ballad that still manages to be intense. Compared to the other tracks, it doesn’t grab your attention all that much. Some of the imagery is great like “dripping blood honey” and Manson sounds properly creepy when singing, but it doesn’t hit you the same way as the others. What does stand out is the dark tone matching the violent atmosphere of the album.

The title track switches up the mood with lighter, more rock-oriented. It’s not as heavy or brutal as the other songs. It’s not bad, but isn’t all that memorable and sounds pretty generic. Closing track “Threats of Romance” returns to the aggressive sound, yet has this downtrodden bluesy tone to it. He sounds like he’s bearing his soul in a dirty blues club as he sings “Things that are pretty/are always kept behind glass/someone like me can’t make it last.” As he talks about crumbling relationships it becomes clear this seems like an oddly personal song for the rocker. It ends with him shouting “I like you damaged” not holding anything back and lets out one last bloodcurdling scream before the album ends.

Heaven Upside Down is another great Marilyn Manson album that was well worth the wait. It really took me by surprise with just how good it is. While there are moments where it sounds like he’s being shocking for the sake of it, the rest of his commentary is as biting and damning as ever. There are a lot of moments that harken back to Antichrist Superstar or Mechanical Animals, but it doesn’t sound like he’s repeating himself. It’s classic Manson where he seethes at the world and ripples with anger. And even though not every song is notable, there isn’t one I would call bad. Personally, I enjoyed this more than The Pale Emperor. This album is more in your face, aggressive, and kick ass than the last record. And it shows Manson still has it in him.

 

Top 10 Videos that Scared Me as a Kid

Image result for thriller michael jackson yellow eyes

Let’s face it, as a kid the silliest things can scare us. Anything from trees to weird looking food could scare our pants off. Like most kids of the 90s, I watched a lot of television. There was a point where I ventured away from Nickelodeon to MTV. Most of the videos had no effect on me. Some of them I even liked (“Smells Like Teen Spirit”), but then there were the “scary” ones. Videos I had no business watching, yet kept my eyes glues to the screen until it scared me. Looking back at these ten clips now, none of them are scary in the least, not even disturbing. Then again, I was only a dumb kid then. So let’s take a look at the top ten videos that scared my pants off as a kid.

10. “Nothing Compares 2 U” – Sinead O’Connor

There’s a subtle beauty to this video that makes it timeless. The concept is simple: O’Connor lets her haunting vocals carry the video mixed with gothic imagery of her walking through a cemetery. Pretty tame. But the one part that I still remember freaking me out comes at the very end. It’s a brief flash of what looks like a skeleton. Looking at it now, I think it’s an intricate headstone, but the face still looks like a skull. Being so young and not able to grasp the thought of death, this scene horrified me. Keep in mind, at the same time I thought the Crypt Keeper was pretty cool. Yeah, I was a weird kid. Now, I wouldn’t call the image scary at all. It just has a morbid beauty to it I can fully appreciate.

9. “Role Model” – Eminem

Similar to the “My Name Is” video, this one is a barrage of various images and situations featuring the rapper meant to shock viewers. Nothing about this video is scary or even disturbing in the least aside from how much of the song is missing when watching the clean version. So why did I cringe when I watched it as a kid? The damn ending where Eminem, after attempting a Houdini-like escape attempt, fails. The video ends with his lifeless body swinging in the water as the crowd looks on in disgust. This mixed with the sepia silent movie effects (some of those still creep me out) was enough to make me skip this video. I can’t really explain it. I just remember hating this part of the video whenever I saw it and I did my best to change the channel before it ended.

8. “Nookie” – Limp Bizkit

I didn’t really know what to think of Limp Bizkit when they invaded my daily TRL watching in the late 90s. I remember thinking how dumb this song was and wondering what the fuck cookies had to do with the nookie anyway. But the one thing I will always take away from this Limp Bizkit song is the video. The majority of the clip is pretty tame and predictable. It’s Wes Borland that freaked me out. When he cocked his head to the side and stared into the camera with those soulless eyes, I shivered. I’ve never seen someone with pure black eyes and no pupils. Of course, now I know it was just contact lenses. Still, it shook me enough to where I closed my eyes whenever the video came on. Why didn’t I just change? Well, I didn’t want to miss my daily dose of Nsync and BSB.

7. “Waterfalls” – TLC

I was a huge fan of TLC when I was younger and seeing as this was one of the best videos of the 90s, it was always on MTV. Sure, some of the graphics are outdated now, but it’s still an iconic clip. Yet, I hated watching it. Why? Because of how fucking depressing it is. First, we see a young boy killed in blood and his mother a ghostly figure crying over him. Then, we see a man fade from existence through an unknown case of AIDS. By the end of the video the boy tries to reunite with his mother and the woman who infected her lover, is gone as well. I get it, the video is supposed to leave impact with its message. But I was five at the time. And yeah, I probably shouldn’t have watched it. But those two scenes scared me even if I didn’t fully understand what they meant. Sometimes TLC were a little too good at getting their messages across as this isn’t the last time they spooked me out.

6. “The Way I Am” – Eminem

I probably shouldn’t have been listening to or watching Eminem at 12 years old, but I did and yes, my mom thought it was fine. Very little about this video is scary; it’s kind of disturbing, but there’s nothing outright horrifying about it. I remember actually enjoying it and being confused by Marilyn Manson in the background. Was it really him or not? After all, Em did previously portray the rocker in “My Name Is.” The thing that freaked me out was the end when the rapper is about to make contact with the concrete. It was at that second that I realized what he was doing. I flinched and closed my eyes not wanting to see the awful splatter. And the ground turns to rubber. Eminem is okay. I let out a sigh of relief. The fact that two Eminem videos scared when I was young was probably a punishment for listening to his music in the first place.

5. “Gimme Some More” – Busta Rhymes

The weird thing about this video is at the time I only saw about five seconds of it. It was some sort of countdown on MTV or maybe it was the VMAs, doing a recap of videos. It flashed to a clip of this song where it focused on the blue, yellowed eyed creature that terrifies the woman in the video. It’s actually not a surprise this one scared me as a kid; the monster is still freaky looking today. Still, it’s something I’ll always remember as shaking me to my core. From then on I associated Busta Rhymes with scary videos. Now….not so much.

4. “Thriller” – Michael Jackson

This video has scared all of us at some point in our lives. Though it’s a timeless clip and still outstanding by today’s standards, it’s not exactly scary. I wasn’t even that afraid of it when I first saw it at 5 years old. Despite this, there were still bits that creeped me out. One thing that always unnerved me was the heavy breathing during the title card. I always found it weird and knew it signaled bad things to come. The part where Jackson transforms into the werecat looks a bit dated, especially the parts featuring a static dummy head. But the part that always made me jump was him screaming “Go away!” with the sharp teeth sticking out of his mouth. Though I always expect it now, when I was little I somehow forgot it was coming and it always scared me. The zombies for the most part I thought were cool, except for two specific ones. First, the one that comes strolling out of mausoleum door, whites of his eyes showing. Then the one with blood spilling of its mouth. Both of these zombies freaked me out. And the way the latter one smiles after the blood spills, just makes it all the more creepy. It still freaks me out a bit now.

3. “Unpretty” – TLC

Similar to “Waterfalls,” TLC aims to promote a positive message of loving yourself and not letting anyone else make you feel ugly. Sounds good, so what about the video is terrifying? The part where a woman gets her silicone implants removed. When I first saw the doctor remove the silicone and the pained expression of the girl, it gave me chills. Every other time I saw the video I shut my eyes right as Chili steps into the hospital. TLC spares no one and shows the painful removal up close trying to teach young girls a lesson. And at least for me, it fucking worked. Even watching it now after not seeing the video in years it made me cringe. I forgot how graphic the scene was and it’s disturbing as hell. I never thought a TLC video would leave me scarred for life.

2. “Tourniquet” – Marilyn Manson

As much as I love Marilyn Manson now, I thought he was the creepiest dude when I was ten. I still remember finding my brother’s copy of Mechanical Animals and being utterly confused by the cover. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I accidentally saw this video while watching Celebrity Deathmatch. After Manson won against Charles Manson, they decided to show this clip. And man did it give me nightmares. Though it’s now one of my favorite videos, I still don’t know what the hell is going on. Manson’s movements along with black eyed semi-human/semi-mannequin creatures scared the piss out of me. But it still intrigued me; I’d never seen anything like it before. When I saw the video again, I watched while covering my eyes and peeking out every now and then. Years later, I turned into a dedicated fan. Gotta admit I didn’t see that one coming.

1. “Oh Father” – Madonna

I’ve talked about how accidentally terrifying this video is in the past, so I’ll be brief about it here. I saw this video at a very young age and when it reached the part where the little girl, who is supposed to be Madonna, reaches her mother in the casket terrified me. Not because she was dead, but because of the fucking close up of her lips sewn shut. It’s not grotesque and it doesn’t even stay on the screen that long. But it was enough to disturb me and haunt me ever since. Because of that scene, I rarely revisit the video. It still gives me the chills today. The rest of the video is beautiful and timeless. Yet, that one scene has stayed with me for years. For that reason along it gets the top spot.

Did any of these videos scare you as a kid? What videos gave you chills? Let me know in the comments!

Top 10 Rock Stars You Forgot Were in Horror Movies

It’s Halloween! Time to overdose on candy and watch horror movies. Rock stars even get in the fun and sometimes make…interesting appearances in horror movies. Sometimes it’s not that bad, but most of the time it’s clear they should stick to music. To get you in the mood for things that go bump in the night, here are ten rock stars you forgot in horror movies. They’re ranked from best performances to worst.

10. Tom Waits in Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Somehow Tom Waits playing the role of the insane Renfield in Dracula is oddly appropriate. Watching scenes of him eating flies and gravelly cackling about his vampiric master is hypnotizing and frightening. He perfectly shows how far gone Renfield is at this point in the film. What is probably the creepiest thing is how he still seems charming even though he’s spiraling into madness and is out for blood. With his demeanor and trademark gravelly voice, seems like Waits should be in more sophisticated horror movies.

9. Chester Bennington in Saw 3D

Unless you’re an avid fan of the Saw franchise, you might’ve missed Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington in the seventh installment of the series. In the film, he plays a Neo-Nazi named Evan who has to gruesomely tear himself from a car seat in order to save his friends. As you expect, things don’t end very well for the gang. Bennington puts his hard rock chops to work by screaming for his life. The scene is hard to watch and turns your stomach. Bennington landed the role by happenstance. Producer Mark Burg lived next to one of the Linkin Park bandmembers and heard Bennington was a huge fan. It’s an odd cameo, but at least he was decent at it.

8. David Bowie and Peter Murphy in The Hunger

If there’s anyone who could play a suave, sexy vampire, it’s David Bowie. The rocker landed the starring role in this 1983 “erotic thriller” about a love triangle between a doctor and a vampire couple. It’s not a horror movie per se, but rather a slick looking film with supernatural elements. Though the movie received mixed reviews, Bowie is as cool and stylish as ever. It may not be an awarding winning performance, but it’s better than most on this list. Bauhaus’ Peter Murphy also makes a brief appearance during the film’s credits singing the Goth anthem “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.”

7. Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne in Trick or Treat

Two legendary rockers pop up in this forgotten 80s horror movie. In this film, Eddie is devastated over the loss of his favorite rocker Sammi Curr. He gets more than he asks when Curr starts haunting him. Simmons plays Nuke, Eddie’s friend who’s a DJ at the local radio station. The performance is forgettable and easy to miss as Simmons if you aren’t paying attention, or if you aren’t a KISS fan. But Ozzy’s turn as an evangelist talking about the evils of heavy metal must be scene. Dressed in a suit and with his hair slicked back, Osbourne warns kids about the evil of heavy metal with a straight face. Seeing as Ozzy’s music was touted as being Satanic and responsible for deaths in the 80s, it’s hilarious to hear him talk about the evilness of rock music.

6. Sting in The Bride

Did you know there was a remake/re-imagining of The Bride of Frankenstein? Yeah, it’s a terrible idea. To make things even more confusing, the film starred Sting as Baron Charles Frankenstein. The movie follows the same basic plot of the original: Frankenstein makes a mate for his infamous monster and everything goes to shit. Set in a lush Victorian setting, the film is visually pleasing, but that seems to be the most interesting about it. The movie was critically panned, as expected. Gene Siskel even called it a Monstorous Failure. But that didn’t stop Sting from starring in more movies, like Plenty and Dune. Guess the guy can’t take a hint.

5. Dee Snider in Strangeland

When Snider isn’t fronting Twisted Sister he’s apparently writing horror films. He wrote and starred in 1998’s Strangeland, which focuses on a small town being terrified by a tattooed and pierced baddie Captain Howdy. Howdy uses internet chat rooms to stalk and torture his victims. This is a movie that can only be made in the 90s when everyone was young and naive about the internet. The trailer looks cheesy as hell, but Snider at least seems decent. Still, the movie got negative reviews upon release. Guess people liked the movie the first time they saw it as Hellraiser.

4. Marilyn Manson in Rise: Blood Hunter

Marilyn Manson is no stranger to acting. He’s made appearances in films The Heart is Deceitful Above all Things and Party Monster. But in 2007 he made a low key appearance in sub par horror film Rise: Blood Hunter starring Lucy Liu. Judging from the three-minute clip, the movie is pretty lame. Manson is monotone and boring as the everyday bartender who helps Eve (Liu) to find someone. There’s nothing notable about his acting. The most interesting thing about the clip is Manson sans makeup, which is not as shocking as it used to be. There’s probably a reason you’ve never heard of this film. Maybe we need to keep it that way.

3. Jon Bon Jovi in Vampires: Los Muertos

Jon Bon Jovi has some weird obsession with being a cowboy. It started with “Dead or Alive” and lead to several roles in Western films. So when John Carpenter penned a script a horror Western, Jovi took the call to star as Derek Bliss, vampire hunter. This is actually a sequel to Carpenter’s 1998 film Vampires, which was pretty successful. This one, however, is a straight to video sequel. There’s really nothing else to say after that. You don’t need to see the entire movie to know it’s bad. Just watch the trailer and see how stiff and lifeless Jovi is in the starring role. Even the scene when he kind of turns into a vampire is dull. Maybe the rocker should stick with radio friendly hits that you love, yet hate at the same time.

2. Alice Cooper in Monster Dog

When browsing through Netflix one night, I came across this odd movie. A horror flick starring the equally frightening Alice Cooper? What could go wrong? Apparently, a lot. The movie is slow, dull, and just awful. Not even funny awful. Just bad. Cooper’s performance is unremarkable and the plot of wild dogs attacking random citizens sounds cool but is hardly terrifying. Even the scene where Cooper turns into a werewolf, which you have to sit through the entire movie for, is boring. To make things worse, the movie is dubbed in English and none of the English actors voiced their own lines. So throughout the entire viewing, you wonder if something’s off or if you’re just going crazy.

1.Roger Daltrey in Vampirella

In this terrible adaption of the long-running Vampirella comic series, The Who frontman Roger Daltrey stars in this direct to video film. That should say it all right there. Daltrey stars as Vlad/Jamie Blood, who is Vampirella’s enemy and a rock star on weekends. And yes, that does mean there is a musical scene in the film. Seeing an aging Daltrey straining and trying to be enticing with a rat’s tail on the side of his head is cringe worthy. He doesn’t sound bad performing, but when it comes to enticing vampires, Daltrey isn’t the first guy you think of. Judging from the trailer, it’s one of those movies you watch with friends to laugh at how awful it is. What was Daltrey thinking?

Honorable mention:

Sonny Bono in Troll

I didn’t include this one because Sonny Bono isn’t a rock star. But seeing him transform into some weird plant/pod monster was too good to not talk about. Bono gets trick by a troll in the titular movie Troll, yes the precursor to the hilariously awful Troll 2. If you can manage to sit throughout the entire thing, you’ll even catch a young Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Happy Halloween!

Musical Quickie: Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids Live

Release Year: 2000

Rating: 6/10

I don’t actively seek out bootlegs, but I’ve been lucky enough to pick up a few during my travels. This Marilyn Manson one caught my eye in a record store because it featured the first live recordings from the Spooky Kids era. Unfortunately, it’s not very good. This bootleg from Nightingale Records takes an early performance from the band when they were known as Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids, along with some video from the same show. While it is cool to have live versions of these recordings since they haven’t been officially released, this album makes the show dull. The audio quality is decent at best making Manson’s banter sound muffled. The songs themselves are mainly early versions of tracks from the band’s first album Portrait of an American Family, like “Dope Hat,” “Cake and Sodomy,” and “Lunchbox.” It’s not made for listening to regularly, rather it shows how the songs are fleshed out with only slightly different lyrics. Otherwise, there’s nothing special about this bootleg. You can probably find better versions of these songs on another bootleg release. I can’t say much about the videos since they wouldn’t run on my computer. But they can be found on the unofficial DVD Birth of the Antichrist. You can even watch the show on Youtube. Unless you find this one cheap and want it for your collection, it’s best to avoid it.