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Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral CD (album) cover

THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL

Nine Inch Nails

 

Crossover Prog

3.78 | 96 ratings

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zravkapt
Special Collaborator
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars Mainstream rock music in the mid-90s rarely got better than this. Certainly more "progressive" than the majority of rock-based music coming out at the time. NIN were labeled 'industrial' but in reality were so much more; more melodic, more metallic, and much more diverse than most groups under that label. If it hadn't been for the success of the video/single "Closer", I don't think this album would have sold as much as it did. Even "Hurt" wasn't a big hit at the time and only became well-known because of the Johnny Cash version a decade later. The first single/video from the album was "March Of The Pigs"...an odd choice I always thought, what with the syncopated start/stop rhythm and the lovely piano lines that don't seem to fit the rest of the song.

I originally had this on cassette, and I always loved playing Side B(beginning with the eerily beautiful "A Warm Place") the most because all the songs segued into each other. It was like one really long song(no wonder I got into prog!) Trent Reznor plays most of the instruments himself although he is occasionally helped out by guitarist Adrian Belew(Zappa, T Heads, Crimson, etc). Jane's Addiction/Porno For Pyros drummer Stephen Perkins appears on "I Do Not Want This", U2 collaborater Flood even uses the ancient analogue synth ARP 2600 on "The Becoming", while Tommy Lee of Motley Crue/Pamela Anderson fame is credited with "steakhouse"(???) on "Big Man With A Gun". A little warning: if you don't like sexual/violent and/or anti-religious lyrics, this album ain't for you. A shame because you're going to miss out on some great music.

The music is mostly synth & distorted guitar-oriented, although there is plenty of room for acoustic guitar and piano. The singing can go from soft lullabys to yelling/screaming(usually studio treated). Most of the drumming is programmed but touring drummer Chris Vrenna occasionally gives us some "real" drumwork. The Downward Spiral is light years ahead of the debut Pretty Hate Machine, but generally continues where the 1992 EP Broken left off. If all you know from this album is "Closer" and "Hurt", then you are in for a surprise as the other songs don't really sound anything like those two. Worth at least 3.5 but I'll round it up to 4.

zravkapt | 4/5 |

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