Since the release of “Pretty Hate Machine” in 1989, Nine Inch Nails have released 9 studio albums and various EPs to both commercial and critical acclaim. Some may even say that Trent brought the industrial genre to the mainstream.
I’ll be up front with you on this one, I’m totally bias when it comes to anything NIN related and even have the backwards tattoo to prove it. When I was younger I couldn’t fathom how someone could listen to the sound of angle-grinders and distortion with words hurled in for good measure and a man named Acid simply said, “You’ll get it when you’re older.” Well, as time and the ebb and flow of life took their toll, normal verse — bridge — chorus — verse — bridge — chorus music no longer tickled my fancy.
A 5 song EP is something of a slap in the face; you never really see it coming but once it’s over you’re left with a stinging sensation. For some, that feels like pleasure but if you’re like me it’s nothing but pain. This is the first time that Atticus Ross has officially been credited as a member of NIN and it’s evident on this album with its eclectic nature.
The album starts strong with an in your face mini-scream session entitled “Branches/Bones”. A thunderstorm of anguish contained in a bite-sized chunk just big enough to get the blood pumping in classic Trent Fashion.
Next up is the neck-snapping baseline of “Dear World.” It’s synth heavy with just enough progression to raise you up and make you question your consciousness within in the 8-bit reality. Fueled by Trent’s subversive vocals, the track seems to serenade you with his profanity.
The 3rd track, “She’s Gone Away,” bares hallmarks of signature NIN with something new and unexplained. A matured, more composed message that is a far cry from the outright anguish and guttural distortion of early albums, clearly defined and purified as it puts yours ears in a blender and your mind in a freezer. Truly music for the perverted industrial audiophile! Best listened to in 7.1 Audio with a tuning fork in hand – Trent & Atticus give birth to something that is familiar yet different, layer upon beautiful layer.
“The Idea of You” is a whisper draped in the soulful piano that shatters into classic momentum with the oh-so-beautiful chorus — “NONE OF THIS IS HAPPENING!”– that is fired into your ears and makes you want to both scream and fire your arms into the air like pistons. His message is one that resonates with the lonely and disenfranchised, music for g33ks & fr34ks that love nothing more than to drown out the noise.
“Burning Bright/Field of Fire” is an anthem that, when truly heard, should touch you and take you somewhere outside yourself, somewhere better, where you can break through the surface and remind you that “I am forgiven, I am free, I am a field of Fire!” Just take a look at the video below if you don’t take my word for it.
So what’s not to love about an album that gives voice to my frustration and leave me feeling elated? The fact that it’s only 5 songs long with a run-time of 21:11. That said, this album is an engaging listen and a masterpiece from the titans of Industrial who will only become more refined as Ross’ influence becomes more defined over time.
Until then I’m waiting with bated breath for the next installment…
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Veteran freelance journalist & student of Gonzo who's every word can only pay homage. "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."- Dr. Hunter S. Thompson