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Nine Inch Nails - Broken CD (album) cover

BROKEN

Nine Inch Nails

Crossover Prog


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Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
2 stars Three years after his excellent first Nine Inch Nails album, Trent Reznor apparently didn't have enough material for another full album, so he released this EP. The original release (the one I own), had the last two tracks, cover songs by Adam Ant and Pigface (a previous band that Reznor was in), on a separate mini disk. Apparently, after discovering that some record store operators (not me) had been removing the mini disk and selling it separately, Reznor rereleased the EP with all of the songs on one disk.

I enjoyed Pretty Hate Machine immensely. I found Reznor's songwriting on that album to be fresh and emotional. Here, not so much. Although he uses many of the same sounds and techniques as on his first album, somehow here it sounds forced and contrived. Perhaps it is because on this disk, you can barely understand what he is singing on each song. At least the beat and sounds are compelling on a primal level. That will have to suffice.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#295993)
Posted Tuesday, August 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock Team
3 stars According to PA, this has Marilyn Manson on one song. I didn't know he worked with Reznor this early; the liner notes in my copy don't mention him at all. Anyway, this was the follow up to Pretty Hate Machine from 1989 and the first NIN I ever bought. I had heard PHM previously though. Before I even begin to talk about the music itself, I wanted to mention two things. First, at least the original CD versions of this had a cool foldout to them; you had to open three layers before you got to the CD itself. Still the coolest design for a CD I have ever seen. Second, this originally had 99 songs on it. Songs 7-97 just being one second of nothing each.

There was a long break between releases because Reznor was having troubles with his former label TVT Records. For Broken, NIN were now on Interscope. In between the sound became more aggressive, metallic and industrial than PHM. "Pinion" is just a short guitar noise that gets repeated and becomes louder and louder with some other noises added later on. It starts off so quiet you think there is something wrong with your speakers/headphones the first time you listen to this. I lent a friend my copy once. He told me that when he played it, he couldn't hear anything at first, so he cranked the volume up. Then when the next song "Wish" started, it was so loud he literally fell off his chair. With today's 'loudness wars' a whole generation is missing out on stuff like this.

The first time I ever heard the term "fist f*ck" was on "Wish". The verse and chorus parts are very different but compliment each other. I like the weird sounding synth in the middle. The guitar near the end is good too. "Last" has some great guitar. Always liked the line "my lips may promise but my heart is a whore". The song alternates between slower verses and faster choruses. "Help Me I Am In Hell" is a nice instrumental with echoed guitar effects.

"Happiness In Slavery" had a bizarre video for it that I think was banned on most music channels. The bass line and the sound of the bass are both awesome. I love the part in the middle with the overdubbed synth-generated machine noises. I like the looped, fast drumming that starts "Gave Up". Generally a fast and heavy song. Apparently there is some Mellotron in this song. Cool synth solo around a minute and a half.

The last two tracks are not listed on the original versions of this EP. Track 98 is a cover of the Adam & The Ants song "Physical". Track 99 is a re-recording of the song "Suck" by the Ministry side project Pigface which included Reznor. I still like Broken a lot. There was a re- mix album called Fixed that came out shortly after. All I remember about it was some of it was noisy as hell. You can barely recognize most of the songs. About as avant as NIN ever got. For this I give 3 stars.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#354886)
Posted Thursday, December 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Broken is perhaps my favourite early Nine Inch Nails release; a short and to the point EP built around expressing the apocalyptic anger Trent Reznor was feeling at the time towards his former record company (and the world in general). Whilst the emotional stance of other NIN works tended towards the mopey and self-pitying - and, at points, didn't really seem sincere - Broken takes the vocabulary of industrial metal and uses it to create intense, impassioned invective which gets my blood racing every time I listen to it. Taking the NIN project firmly into the arena of metal and away from its synthesiser-flooded beginnings, Broken is a real treat.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#608309)
Posted Thursday, January 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars After instigating some serious ripples in the stagnant waters of the rock music scene late in 1989 with his stunning "Pretty Hate Machine" album, Trent Reznor realized that he now had to deal with the peripherals that came with wave-making. Some were positive, some not so much. Putting together an impressive touring Nine Inch Nails ensemble and shocking audiences the world over with their raucous, in-your-face stage presence, thereby frightening parents into banning them from their teens' Walkmans (being tagged as taboo = a marketing mother lode), were part of the rich harvest gleaned from that debut's success. The bad stuff arose from the ever-present business side of the equation that only cared about one thing, the "God Money" that Trent had so vehemently railed against in "Head like a Hole." The band's label, TVT, started pressuring Reznor to quickly produce a follow up CD in order to seize the fleeting moment. When he didn't respond as instructed, their battery of lawyers started waving legal papers in his mug, threatening to freeze his artistic assets. As one would expect, things got nasty in a hurry, forcing Trent to record in secret until Interscope Records intervened, bought out his contract (without his approval, I might add) and gave him free reign to come out of hiding and create at will. In September of '92 Nine Inch Nails finally resurfaced with "Broken" and the fans responded enthusiastically.

Not known as being a particularly tolerant or longsuffering fellow, Reznor's musical and lyrical tone reflected his reinforced disdain for capitalistic greed merchants and the conceited bullying tactics they employed in order to keep their indentured servants in line. While the songs on the former disc certainly didn't display any signs of restraint when it came to ranting against corporate tyranny and the horrendous things that people do to each other in the name of love, the tunes on "Broken" zeroed in on being Trent's vehicle to vent his outrage over the injustices of "the system" and showcased the paranoid virus its cruel manipulations had infected him with. I also detect the influence of his realization that the live crowds he'd performed for demanded nothing less than being pulverized into submission by his music and that, as far as they were concerned, overkill was impossible for him to achieve. For these reasons the tracks are based more heavily on massive, metallic guitar assaults than they were on PHM, where the role synthesizers played in the overall ambience was more noticeable. It's noisy as hell, too.

"Pinion" is a very short intro to the album that brings to mind an ominous storm gathering and advancing from the far horizon. When "Wish" hits with its intense oom-pah beat grinding beneath a brash, distorted wall of guitars that stands in contrast to Reznor's relatively calmer but still anger-filled verses there's no mistaking who you're listening to. He spits out "Don't think you're having all the fun/you know me I hate everyone/wish there was something real/wish there was something true/wish there was something real/in this world full of you/I want to but I can't turn back/but I want to," and one gets a glimpse of the vile disease of distrust that's festering in his psyche. This song and the whole EP in general is more punkish than exploratory in attitude. "Last" is better. Its strong-as-an-ox metal approach is more accessible in its clarity and purpose. The tune utilizes different atmospheres to provide needed dynamics but it's subtle as a steel mill as Trent rails against the machine that's draining him bit by bit. "Still feel it all slipping away/but it doesn't matter anymore/everybody's still chipping away/but it doesn't matter anymore/look through these blackened eyes/you'll see ten thousand lies/my lips may promise but my heart is a whore," he screams. An instrumental, "Help Me I am in Hell," follows, consisting mainly of a strummed electric guitar that holds steady as suffocating synth noises build to a crescendo and then subside around it.

On the sarcastic "Happiness in Slavery" a harsh, pounding beat anchors this riff-driven tune in which Reznor snarls and slobbers, setting loose his pent up ire and disillusionment via lines like "I don't know what I am/I don't know where I've been/human junk just words and so much skin/stick my hands through the cage of this endless routine/just some flesh caught in this big broken machine." The electronically-generated percussion breakdown is suspenseful but it only offers a brief respite from Trent's exasperating primal yelps, strained whispers and atonal grunts. The ferocious "Gave Up" is next. A frantic, incredibly fast drum pattern props up Reznor's altered vocal at the onset and then a stupendously loud, assaulting chorus takes charge, tempered only by slightly less-boisterous verses and presenting little in the way of finesse. "After everything I've done/I hate myself for what I've become/I tried/I gave up/throw it away" he cries. I understand that this is art but at this point one starts to fear for his sanity. The EP ends with two covers. The first is Adam Ant's "Physical (You're So)" wherein a huge, throbbing pulse stalks below this Neanderthal love song that makes plain its core intent. "I want the touch of your charms/the heat of your breath/I wanna say all those things/that would be better unsaid," Reznor croons in his inimitable way. A version of Pigface's "Suck" is the curtain-closer. Its funk foundation in the verses gives way to sledgehammer slams that propel the battalion of guitars-fueled choruses. It drops into a turbo hum bridge for about a minute, then the army of axes crash back in as Trent bellows "A thousand lips/a thousand tongues/a thousand throats/a thousand lungs/a thousand ways to make it true/I want to do terrible things to you." (His new record company did well to heed this thinly-veiled threat and left him alone.) The track exits in a revival of the number's initial funky strut.

I regard "Broken" as a necessary stepping stone in his career that allowed Reznor to blow off some destructive steam that could've lessened the impact that "The Downward Spiral" would have a year and a half later. That album possessed an artistic identity and verve that might have been missing had Trent carried the blinding rage he exorcised on this disc into that project. Yet, as brittle and raw as "Broken" is, it still resonated with a large portion of the public that wanted something less retro and more challenging than what the grunge movement was presenting. The CD rose to #7 on the chart, went platinum in no time and garnered two Grammy awards so its appeal wasn't limited to NIN fans only. And, because the gritty, unnerving videos that accompanied several of these songs were designated as unfit for MTV, folks had to turn to the web to view them, thus loosening the unholy grip that mind-numbing network had on the populace and helping to finally bring the word progressive back into 20th century music's vocabulary. So there's a lot to appreciate about "Broken" but, as for me, I have to be in a very chapped and indignant mood to swim in its dangerous waters. Fortunately, that's not very often these days but it's good to know it's there if I need it.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#624789)
Posted Wednesday, February 01, 2012 | Review Permalink
Slartibartfast
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Good thing they put this one in digipak instead of a jewel case?

The second NIN offering, broken shows Reznor and friends moving away from the more alternative sound of Pretty Hate Machine into more interesting territory. Still dark and angry, but also even heavier. Also interesting to know is that this album is very much a computer (Macintosh) made project using software called Digidesign's TurboSynth. I really like that backward tracking sounding like guitar effect he creates on Happiness In Slavery. "Don't open your eyes you won't like what you see". There's even a distorted Mellotron used on the album, but I'm not sure where it's used.

This really is a very loud album even at low volumes but has a lot of interesting details in the mix if you crank it up. Trent paid a lot of attention to the audio details. It's almost too short particularly if you cut out the two cover tracks at the end. But hey, a better album would follow.

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Send comments to Slartibartfast (BETA) | Report this review (#637963)
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Broken" is an EP release by US industrial rock/metal act Nine Inch Nails. The EP was released through Nothing/TVT Records in September 1992. Considering the grand commercial success of the debut album "Pretty Hate Machine (1989)", it's thought provoking that it took Trent Reznor 3 years before he was ready to release "Broken". There were various reasons for the long recording break though. First of all Nine Inch Nails had spend time touring in support of the debut album, but the most significant reason was probably that Trent Reznor had a feud with TVT Records, who according to him, pressured him into writing an album in a similar style to the debut, which he refused. Trent Reznor vision to inject his industrial rock with a shot of metal didn't exactly please TVT Records. After a long legal battle the two parties reached a deal though and Trent Reznor was released from his record deal with TVT Records, but only after the release of "Broken". He would subsequently sign a deal with Interscope Records.

The music on the 99 track EP is industrial rock/metal. out of the 99 tracks only 8 are "real" songs while the remaining tracks are 0:01 minute tracks of silence. It's a formula that wasn't uncommon in the early- to mid nineties, where artists sought to explore the CD medium to it's full. While it may have been something new and exciting in 1992 that a band would chose to do such a thing, today it's just plain annoying that we get 6 tracks and then a bunch of silent tracks before the last 2 tracks kick in. With that said the quality of the "real" tracks on the album is high throughout. Angsty/angry industrial rock/metal packed in a powerful and impressive sound production, featuring layers of sounds, samples, vocals and instruments. Most tracks are quite catchy and I can see why a track like "Wish" ended up winning the 1993 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. In 1992 this sounded fresh, energetic and inspired but that's actually also the case today. "Broken" doesn't sound dated at all and that's a bit surprising but also a testimony to the high quality of the sound production! A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is warranted.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#707992)
Posted Wednesday, April 04, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars This release gets 4 out of 5 stars as possibly Trent Reznor's best. It's unusual to say that about half an hour's worth of music. However, its conciseness is its strongest selling point. NIN's next effort, "The Downward Spiral", is brilliant. However, over an hour's worth of anger and misery can be draining. "Broken" is definitely more aggressive than "Pretty Hate Machine". In my mind, that's a very good thing.

At roughly 30 minutes, "Broken" succeeds emotionally IMO. Favorite tracks are "Wish", "Help Me I Am In Hell', and "Happiness in Slavery". However, everything here is worth listening to. I've always thought that it was strange/funny that Trent was covering an Adam Ant song, of all things. However, injecting "Physical" with his own angst in a typical NIN arrangement works. I think the song points to what makes NIN's work successful; it's so musical. For all the rage in Trent's music, he can write strong melodies and lyrics. That's why "Broken" is NIN at their almost best, if not best.

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Send comments to thwok (BETA) | Report this review (#939164)
Posted Thursday, April 04, 2013 | Review Permalink

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