Marilyn Manson’s new album, “Heaven Upside Down,” is classically Manson, an album that fits in sonically alongside 1996’s “Antichrist Superstar” and 1998’s “Mechanical Animals.” The album remains true to Manson’s sound, complete with catchy riffs and gravelly vocals backed by lingering synths. But it leaves me wondering about the longevity of Brian Warner’s outcast persona that he developed in the early 1990s to make and sell his art, and whether or not it was built to last.

“Heaven Upside Down” is a 10-track rehashing of the same topics Manson has been preoccupied with for years: religion, sex, violence and living as a societal black sheep. And while his music greatly upset conservative Christian America in the ‘90s, it’s just not as surprising anymore. By now, with 10 studio albums released and 14 official worldwide tours, listeners and non-listeners alike have grown accustomed to his delinquent attitude and intentionally controversial lyrics. 

In the wake of violent riots in Charlottesville and the largest mass shooting the country has ever seen in Las Vegas, more lyrically violent tracks like “WE KNOW WHERE YOU F---ING LIVE” and “KILL4ME” place Manson back in the age-old debate of social responsibility and art — a debate that he knows quite well. Since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 teachers and students and wounded 24 at Columbine High School in 1999, Manson has been accused of inciting several mass shootings through his music. 

Manson has always spoken out against these claims, saying, “I couldn’t care less about those kids’ reasoning. What reason do we have to go to war? It’s all the same. Killing somebody can’t be justified by having a reason.”

But Manson lyrics like “Would you kill, kill, kill for me? / You won’t be kissing me unless you kill, kill, kill for me” promote the idea that violence against others is a form of devotion — a way to prove yourself worthy of someone’s attention. In his hit single “WE KNOW WHERE YOU F---ING LIVE,” Manson yells, “It’s time to just kill this crowd / And scream as f---ing loud… / I love the sound of shells / Hitting the ground, I love it.” Another “Heaven Upside Down” track, “JE$U$ CRI$I$,” opens with “If you wanna fight, then I’ll fight you / If you wanna f---, I will f--- you / Make up your mind, or I’ll make it up for you.”

One can’t help to wonder not if the lyrics themselves are responsible for the violent actions of others but whether they contribute to an increasingly desensitized culture that allows mass physical and sexual violence to continue to occur. At what point do artists, working in any medium, have to accept that the work they release into the world may have unintended consequences? It seems that now, more than ever, artists should be aware of the ways in which their art is consumed. 

Even more than its disturbing imagery and controversial messages, “Heaven Upside Down” speaks to a lack of growth as an artist. As a longtime Manson listener, not a single track on this album stood out to me as unique. I felt that, for the 47 minutes in which the album played, I was listening to an older version of the same troubled teen pandering to the same audience, intent on maintaining his provocative rebel persona. Twenty-eight years later, Manson still takes the stage in outrageous costumes and get-ups, with similarly vexed stage props (this tour, it’s super-sized twin handguns) and with the same understanding of himself as a fringed artist, more a creature of the dark than human being. Even “Blood Honey,” a new track praised for its vulnerability, is so rife with vampiric imagery it rivals “If I Was Your Vampire” from his 2007 album “Eat Me, Drink Me.” 

“Heaven Upside Down” feels a little too much like a Marilyn Manson album to really be enjoyable or thought-provoking. While the music is energetic and fast, something to bang your head to, the lyrics feel outdated, overdone and a bit irresponsible. At this point, Manson needs to either ditch the persona, or throw in the towel.