|Musicfolio.com||Reviews & Recommendations|
want to know everything
i want to be everywhere
i want to fuck everyone in the world
i want to do something that matters -- Reznor
|Nine Inch Nails
"In spite of the hype
mongers attempting to define Trent Reznor's mental state, the embellishers
groping for hidden messages in his sometimes cryptic lyrics, or the skeptics
seeking to unravel Reznor's influences, the music of his one man studio
project, Nine Inch Nails has rapidly captured the attention of more than your
usual adolescent synthesizer fanatic. "
-- Alternative Press, 3/90
"Since bursting onto the scene in 1989 with his Nine Inch Nails platinum debut 'Pretty Hate Machine', he's proceeded to shock, offend, and, yes, amaze us with his twisted brilliance. In his hands, vintage synths, guitars and raw samples become harsh, yet ingeniously crafted electro-metal landscapes. Once-recognizable instruments are digitally stomped, scratched, and mangled into noisy byproducts using Digidesign Turbosynth and other, more fiendish sample-editing techniques - ultimateley to be layered with Reznor's own tortured voice. Even though he makes no bones about his high-tech allegiance, Trent Reznor has surged to the forefront in a technology-hating genre. "
-- Greg Rule, Keyboard magazine, 3/94
¾ 1989: Pretty Hate Machine
"Considered the breakthrough album that delivered a more palatable version of industrial music to the commercial audience, Pretty Hate Machine left its dingy mark on pop culture. The abrasive "sonarchy" of the album was first churned by despondent club-goers who roiled with the rhythms and aligned with the angst-ridden convictions. Since its release, the album's tempered deviations came to signify an aesthetic reverie for machine-driven martyrdom. Permeated by hissing engines and dissonant strains, the tracks cascade outside channels of modern complacency. Hits like Head Like a Hole and Down in It are recognized by the acidic beats, piercing riffs, and lyrical hostilities which snare the listener with disparaging rhapsody. Not for the light-headed, Pretty Hate Machine afflicts the inner sanctum and strikes a nerve. "
-- Lucas Hilbert, babEt BDSM scene music
1992: Broken EP
"It's no coincidence that Trent Reznor would later record a song with the chameleon of rock and roll, David Bowie, because each album he has released (excluding remix CD's) gives the listener another variation of the industrial sound. As of now, he has gone from a Kraftwerk-ish rhythm section and punk rock-esque guitar riffs to a sound that absolutely reeks of originality. Broken lies somewhere in between, and most listeners could infer that Reznor was suffering from a bit of an identity crisis regarding his band. Most of the songs are borderline metal, bearing a crunchy guitar sound that is often distorted beyond recognition. The chord progressions are painfully simple and repetetive, consisting mostly of power chords. The guitar solos are clean and executed well, but they don't leave you with a sense of awe. The album opens with Pinion, a rising series of power chords that repeats several times over heavily sampled and altered screams that evoke images of the underworld. It then switches over to what is probably the most popular track on the album, Wish, yet another tale of hatred and suicidal depression. Other notable tracks include Happiness in Slavery, Gave Up, and Suck. The only drawbacks to this album are its minimalistic arrangement of guitar parts and Trent Reznor's pathetic attempt to be artistic by putting 90 blank tracks in between the last two songs and the rest of the album."
Drew Quarles for musicfolio.com, 5/02
½ 1994: The Downward Spiral
"It's easy to understand why Nine Inch Nails became the industrial band to break out of the techno ghetto and win a larger audience. Trent Reznor, who records the NIN albums almost entirely by himself (although he tours with a full band), tries very hard to pass himself off as an angry young man, but underneath the angst-ridden lyrics, pounding synths, and grating guitars is an irrepressible pop sensibility. On the second full-length NIN album, 'The Downward Spiral', Reznor builds his constructions of noise and gloom around warm, fuzzy melodies. On the album's first single, March of the Pigs, for example, Reznor screams about swine lined up for slaughter amid guitars screeching in pain. Suddenly the guitars fall away to reveal the sensually throbbing rhythm track below; then that falls away to reveal a vocal-and-piano track that's as catchy as anything by Elton John. Because Reznor has a better handle on dynamics now, the melodic core is more obvious than ever."
-- Geoffrey Himes, babEt BDSM scene music
½ 1999: The Fragile
"(...) There is nothing as rhythmic or catchy as Closer, nothing as jarring as the piano chorus of March of the Pigs, no ballad as naked as Hurt. When Reznor does try for something immediate and visceral, he sounds recycled.
(...) Whenever Reznor crafts delicate, alternately haunting and pretty soundscapes or interesting sonic juxtapositions, 'The Fragile' is compelling. Since they provide a change of pace, the bursts of industrial noise assist the flow of the album, which never feels indulgent, even though it runs over 100 minutes. Still, 'The Fragile' is ultimately a let-down. There's no denying that it's often gripping, offering odd and interesting variations on NIN themes, but that's the problem -- they're just variations, not progressions. Considering that it arrives five years after Spiral, that is a disappointment."
-- Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG
2000: Things Falling Apart
"Trent Reznor's vaguely dark, pseudo-tortured angst rock sounds very early '90s and more than a bit tired a decade or so later. While songs like Head Like a Hole are fine in the context of the overly angst-y music that was coming out at the height of grunge, Nine Inch Nails has somehow managed to sound kind of silly in quick fashion.
(...) After 1999's masturbatory double CD The Fragile comes this collection of irrelevant remixes, with three versions of Starfuckers Inc. -- which is not much of a song to begin with. Nine Inch Nails has put out several remix albums before, but this being the remix album of a particularly forgettable album, it seems completely pointless for all but the staunchest of fans."
-- Adam Bregman, AMG
¾ 2002: And All That Could Have Been (live)
"The biggest difference between a kick-ass studio album and a kick-ass live album? Intensity. Live: And All That Could Have Been, recorded on Nine Inch Nails' 2000 "Fragility 2.0" U.S. tour, provides that trait in abundance. It helps that Trent Reznor has a band, instead of just a battery of keyboards, to help him work through 16 tracks of the raging yet surprisingly listenable musical vitriol that made him a star. The live musicians, who allow him some freedom to play with tempo, help kick Closer up a notch and lend some atmospheric weight to a slow version of The Frail. The band rips into older material with gusto; Reznor sounds just as pissed off performing Head Like a Holeas he did in 1989. The CD closes with Hurt, which might seem like an odd choice, but somehow, after everything that's come before, it's like the denouement of a tragedy. While a CD can only capture a piece of NIN's onstage energy, their first live album is an intense, sometimes overwhelming recording, further vindication of NIN's continuing popularity and influence."
-- Genevieve Williams, amazon.com
¾ 2005: With Teeth
Tracklisting: 01.All the Love in the World 02.You Know What you Are 03.The Collector 04.The Hand that Feeds 05. Love is Not Enough 06.Every Day is Exactly the Same 07.With Teeth 08.Only 09.Getting Smaller 10.Sunspots 11.The Line Begins to Blur 12.Beside You in Time 13.Right Where it Belongs
"... Reznor promised an album that was light on the instrumental ephemera that characterized his previous work, and instead heavy on melody, structure and convention. And it looks like thats what weve got. It is, shudder to think, Nine Inch Nails pop album. Or at least, Reznor is returning to the more song-orientated territory of 'Pretty Hate Machine'. Now, Mr Reznor has always been a deft hand at this populist music malarkey, he just never liked to admit it. Sin, Closer, and The Perfect Drug are all deliciously deviant inversions of the pop song, to the extent that you could innocently drop The Perfect Drug at a Year Seven dico and no-one would be the wiser (perhaps). But look at the treats on display here. Opener All The Love In The Worldis one of two songs from 'With Teeth' to bear a slight resemblance to Radioheads Everything in its Right Place (the second one being the aptly, somewhat cheekily named Right Where It Belongs).Where do you get all the love in the world? Reznor questions while juddering, low-key synth beats pulse beneath a flat piano riff before the whole affair erupts into typical NIN sturm un drang. But the sonic temerity of its opening proves something of a red herring: With Teeth is a loud record. Because BOOM! track two- You Know Who You Are? is all searing drums and angle grinder synth from the get-go, where Mr Reznor repeatedly prits his second question of the evening: dont you fucking know what you are? Lets not be coy; you have to be a fan of pithy rhyming couplets, idiotic rhetorical questions and self-aggrandising statements such as I believe I can see the future/Because I repeat the same routine to really dig Reznors lyrics. He is not the brooding poet of the darkened soul as some Tori Amos included claim him to be. It took the Man in Black, Johnny Cash, to truly infuse a NIN song with meaning and its telling that Reznor has admitted to feeling somewhat violated by Cashs interpretation of Hurt. Occasionally, as they did on Closer, the unsophisticated nature of Reznors lyrics work to their advantage; his primal insistance does have the ability to hypnotise, as on the first single The Hand That Feeds NINs attempt at the accessible stadium anthem which ends up sounding a bit like Bono in bondage. This happens to be a good thing, if rather disconcerting image. But accessibility is key here, and its something that may well very well be alienate those who prefer Reznor at his more obtuse. "
-- Mike Sterry, NME, 4/05
¼ 2007: Year Zero
Tracklisting: 01. Hyperpower! 02. The Beginning of the End 03. Survivalism 04. The Good Soldier 05. Vessel 06. Me, I'm Not 07. Capital G 08. My Violent Heart 09. The Warning 10. God Given 11. Meet Your Master 12. The Greater Good 13. The Great Destroyer 14. Another Version of the Truth 15. In This Twilight 16. Zero-Sum
"If you give a Nine Inch Nails album a cookie, it'll want a glass of milk. It's something that every NIN fan will espouse: Trent Reznor's songs will get stuck in your head if you let them. Hyperpower!, the opening track to 'Year Zero' doesn't disappoint in this regard, nor does it do its name injustice. The one-minute-and-42-second song contains just about every major theme on the album, layered into a catastrophic mess that sounds oddly exquisite. The problem is that those layers, when pulled apart and spread over 16 songs, don't add up to the chaos and immediacy of that brief sonic explosion. A few tracks succeed, notably God Given, which couples its creepy vocal track with a strange call-and-response that is as close to Closer as Reznor has come in years. On the other hand, lead single Survivalism is explosive but feels derivative of the alt-rock scene Reznor helped shape in the early '90s, which is indicative of the album as a whole. Capital G is an assault on the Bush administration, capped off with some drone-like chanting; it's a relevant topic for a song, but it feels rather impersonal for Reznor, whose specialty is digging into the inner psyche of his audience. The instrumental Another Version Of The Truth really allows the listener to be absorbed by the intricacies of the production and take a break from all the ancillary material; the song's latter half is remarkably beautiful, mixing a dulcet piano melody over that ominous hum omnipresent in NIN's work. Reznor seems to eschew depth for surface explosions and instant gratification, and the result is a finished product that, while decent on an individual track, doesn't hold up as 'Year Zero' progresses."
-- Brian D. Schiller, Slant Magazine, 4/07
Tracklisting: 1. gunshots by computer (saul williams) 2. the great destroyer (modwheelmood) 3. my violent heart (pirate robot midget) 4. the beginning of the end (ladytron) 5. survivalism (saul williams) 6. capital g (epworth phones) 7. vessel (bill laswell) 8. the warning (stefan goodchild featuring doudou ndiaye rose) 9. meet your master (the faint) 10. god given (stephen morris & gillian gilbert) 11. me, im not (olof dreijer) 12. another version of the truth (kronos & enrique gonzalez müller) 13. in this twilight (fennesz) 14. zero sum (stephen morris & gillian gilbert)
"At their best, remix albums become an extension of their parent, venturing off into new sonic horizons with the assistance of other artists; at their worst (ahem, 'Things Falling Apart'), they come off as little more than product looking to suck a few more bucks out of a devoted fan base that's going to shell out for it anyway. And 'Yearzeroremixed' is the kind of rarity that ever so slightly outdoes its source--not that NIN's 'Year Zero' was any kind of masterpiece, with its third-tier Orwellian concept and underwelming songwriting that occasionally gave way to a surprising burst of creativity ('God Given'). Yet 'YZR' shows an effort and creativity (from the packaging itself to the actual quality of the remixes) that has been unseen on the NIN front since 'The Fragile' debuted to diminishing returns 8 years ago. As an artist, Mr. Reznor seems to have reclaimed his motivation (something that would be a lot more significant if I were a bigger fan), and it shows. The remix album as a whole has an interesting trajectory: the first half feels loose and aimless, with little flow (those unaccustomed to Saul Williams should give the album another spin after the first revolution), almost threatening a repeat of 'TFA'; the second half, however (from track 7 to 14), hits its stride in a big way, with one consistently excellent reconstruction after another. Highlights include a 14-minute, 99% instrumental take on Me, I'm Not, Another Version of the Truth (performed by Kronos Quartet, co-authors of the memorable score to 'Requiem for a Dream'), and the Stephen Morris/Gillian Gilbert spin on God Given (which takes an already great song and makes it better). Perhaps the second half succeeds because it tackles "Year Zero"'s less commercial tracks, experimenting more freely, whereas mixes of Survivalism and Capital G rest on the front end to satiate fans of the singles. As far as remix albums go, this comes close to matching the diversity found on Skinny Puppy's 'Remix DysTemper,' and is a worthwhile purchase in and of itself."
-- man_invisible, amazon.com customer review, 11/07
¾ 2008: Ghosts I-IV
"'Year Zero' ended Nine Inch Nails contract with Interscope Records, so Reznor has now become a free agent. Perhaps seeing what a buzz Radiohead caused with their surprise originally download-only album In Rainbows, he decided to do something similar. 'Ghosts I-IV' is the result. Its a four-part instrumental album which is available from either the Nine Inch Nails website or Amazon for a bargain-basement price of five dollars. The low-but-set price eliminates the problems that Radiohead had earlier with their pay-what-you-want method. Like Radioheads album, there are many special edition options available from the website. According to Billboard, a physical version of the album arrives April 8th. 'Ghosts I-IV' is the fourth Reznor related project released in less than a year if you count his collaborative album with rapper Saul Williams. Thats quite an amazing feat for someone who used to be known for uncomfortably long breaks. What makes this record different is that its expansive (broken into 4 parts) and completely instrumental, so it plays like an extended movie score. All 36 tracks are named with their track numbers, the word Ghosts, and the disc-section, thus the first track is called 01 Ghosts I. While this doesnt show much imagination, it does intrigue and it shows that each one of these tracks is part of a larger whole. It wont be burning up the radio charts, but it shouldnt have to. This is not an album for pop purposes. This is a piece of art. (...) All together, the whole collection clocks in at about an hour and 50 minutes. It is evident that a lot of work went into it, but it doesnt seem overcooked in the least. This is Reznor at his most primal, showing us all his varied layers of experimentation. Its an amazing feat."
-- Allan Raible, blogs.abcnews.com, 03/08
½ 2008: The Slip
Tracklisting: 1. 999,999 2. 1,000,000 3. letting you 4. discipline 5. echoplex 6. head down 7. lights in the sky 8. corona radiata 9. the four of us are dying 10. demon seed
Free download at nin.com
"Hot on the heels of 'Ghosts I-IV', Nine Inch Nails release another free album download, 'The Slip'. When thousands of fans downloaded the new Nine Inch Nails free single Discipline the band hinted that a new album would soon follow. On May 5, the industrial electronic band released 'The Slip', a new free download full-length album of material from one of this years most prolific bands. 'The Slip' easily divides into 2 parts. The first half of the album contains classic hard-edged industrial electronica whereas the second half bridges the gap between the old and the new with minimalist soundscapes and tender instrumentals similar to material found on Ghosts I-IV.
Lead track, the instrumental 999,999, draws the listener down a slow moving somber path reminiscent of Ghosts I-IV and hints at the end of the disc before the heavy drums and loud guitar of 1,000,000 turns things around. Full of noise and hard hitting beats, 'The Slip' contains all the elements of classic Nine Inch Nails. Letting You brings an urgent fast-paced thrill ride complete with distorted noise and shouting from Reznor. Discipline, the first single from the album has radio-friendly lyrics, danceable beats and an urgent plea for help. Stand out track Echoplex echoes feelings of loneliness but casts a ray of hope. I built this place with broken parts, Reznor sings over pulsing guitars and an electronic beat sounding both intimate and detached. Locking himself away in the studio for the last couple of months seems to have added a new dimension of gloominess to the band. Head Down, another standout track about reflecting, builds around muffled noise and a harder buzz guitar.
Lights in the Sky, a dark, moody whispered piano ballad could have sat center stage on either of the Ghosts albums. (...) Not all songs on the album contain lyrics, Corona Radiata an ethereal soundscape conjures feelings of loneliness on a desert plain. The minimalism continues on The Four of Us Are Dying. This nocturnal epic creeps along like a brooding dream. Nine Inch Nails called Ghosts I-IV music for daydreaming, The Four of Us Are Dying is music for nighttime dreaming with one eye open. Closing track Demon Seed draws both halves together, integrating the aggression felt on earlier tracks while striping it down mid way to an unobtrusive soundscape before ending the track off with a bottled chant. While uneven, the album doesnt fail to satisfy. "
-- James W. Coates, dancetechnomusic.suite101.com, 05/08
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