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NINE INCH NAILS

Crossover Prog • United States


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Nine Inch Nails biography
US band NINE INCH NAILS was more or less formed in 1988 by Trent Reznor, and while other musicians have participated in various manners over the years the band is first and foremost his solo project.

The early start of this band occurred when Reznor worked as a janitor and assistant engineer at Right Track Studios, and asked the owner Bert Koster to be allowed to record some music of his own in the studio when it wasn't otherwise occupied. The subsequent demo recordings, where Reznor handled all instruments apart from drums himself, landed him a record contract with TVT Records, and 10 cuts from these demos were polished and issued as the first NiN album Pretty Hate Machine in 1989. The album eventually sold to platinum, one of the best selling independently releases records of all time. Tours in the US and Europe followed until 1991, when his record label pressured Reznor to start recording more studio material.

1992 saw the release of two EP's under the NiN moniker. The 8 track EP Broken was another highly successful venture, and while arguably better known for the promotional videos made for the singles released from the EP it was commercially highly succesfull as well, and eventually lead to Reznor getting two Grammy awards. The remix EP Fixed followed towards the end of the year.

Citing inspirations by Pink Floyd (The Wall) and David Bowie (Low), The Downward Spiral was Reznor's next full length effort to be issued under the Nine Inch Nail's moniker. And like his previous efforts it proved to be a massive commercial success, and is regarded as a major artistic achievement as well. The album appears in numerous lists of the most important albums of all times, whether they are based on commercial or artistic principles. The tour in support of the album was as massive a success as the album itself, and lifted Trent Reznor once and for all up to the major artist level. Even the remix album Further Down the Spiral became a commercial success story, shifting enough copies to achieve the Gold Album merit shortly after it's release.

Addiction problems and writer's block stopped the further evolvement of the project dead in it's tracks though, but while battling these demons Reznor got the opportunity to produce the soundtrack for the David Lynch movie Lost Highway. He contributed with the tune The Perfect Drug himself, on a soundtrack CD that also introduced a band like Rammstein to a wider audience.

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The FragileThe Fragile
Explicit Lyrics
Nothing 1999
Audio CD$6.10
$0.26 (used)
Pretty Hate MachinePretty Hate Machine
Umvd Labels 2011
Vinyl$10.91
$10.49 (used)
BrokenBroken
Nothing 1992
Audio CD$3.22
$0.20 (used)
Hesitation Marks (Deluxe Edition)Hesitation Marks (Deluxe Edition)
Columbia 2013
Audio CD$8.05
$9.96 (used)
Pretty Hate Machine: 2010 RemasterPretty Hate Machine: 2010 Remaster
Extra tracks · Remastered
Bicycle Music Company 2010
Audio CD$6.10
$8.48 (used)
With TeethWith Teeth
Interscope Records 2005
Audio CD$4.94
$0.16 (used)
Downward SpiralDownward Spiral
Explicit Lyrics
Nothing/TVT/Interscope Records 1994
Audio CD$6.10
$3.22 (used)
Year ZeroYear Zero
Nothing Records 2007
Audio CD$3.12
$2.75 (used)
Ghosts I - IVGhosts I - IV
The Null Corporation 2008
Audio CD$5.72
$2.98 (used)
Further Down The SpiralFurther Down The Spiral
EP · Extra tracks · Import
Island UK 1995
Audio CD$4.31
$0.31 (used)
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NINE INCH NAILS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

NINE INCH NAILS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.48 | 75 ratings
Pretty Hate Machine
1989
3.82 | 104 ratings
The Downward Spiral
1994
3.75 | 85 ratings
The Fragile
1999
3.10 | 51 ratings
With Teeth
2005
3.16 | 52 ratings
Year Zero
2007
3.86 | 68 ratings
Ghosts I-IV
2008
3.14 | 43 ratings
The Slip
2008
3.69 | 40 ratings
Hesitation Marks
2013

NINE INCH NAILS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.52 | 23 ratings
And All That Could Have Been
2002

NINE INCH NAILS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.20 | 10 ratings
Closure
1997
3.46 | 9 ratings
And All That Could Have Been
2002
3.54 | 16 ratings
Beside You in Time
2007

NINE INCH NAILS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.42 | 17 ratings
Further Down the Spiral
1995
3.21 | 15 ratings
Things Falling Apart
2000
2.57 | 12 ratings
Year Zero Remixed
2007

NINE INCH NAILS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.50 | 7 ratings
Down In It
1989
2.70 | 8 ratings
Head Like a Hole
1990
4.75 | 4 ratings
Sin
1990
4.00 | 3 ratings
Happiness in Slavery
1992
3.37 | 38 ratings
Broken
1992
3.03 | 12 ratings
Fixed
1992
3.88 | 7 ratings
March of the Pigs
1994
3.85 | 11 ratings
Closer to God
1994
4.83 | 6 ratings
Hurt
1994
3.75 | 4 ratings
NINJA tour sampler
2009
2.29 | 9 ratings
Came Back Haunted
2013

NINE INCH NAILS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Year Zero by NINE INCH NAILS album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.16 | 52 ratings

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Year Zero
Nine Inch Nails Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Overall, this isn't a bad album. The music is still industrial, like before, but it is cleaner sounding and seems to be more accessible, even considering the sci-fi concept that it is based on. To me, the music looses a bit of credibility because of the cleaner sound, so it doesn't have the bite and the draw for me that "The Downward Spiral" or "Pretty Hate Machine". There isn't much in the way of prog here either, not that there was a lot before, but there were some elements. The rhythms are pretty straightforward. But there are a lot of nice surprises which is what one can expect from NIN. But I don't believe the music has progressed so much from the earlier albums. It's okay to have a cleaner sounding and more accessible record if you can do that while advancing your sound. The music remains pretty close to the same, and with the accessibility factor on this album, that tends to make it suffer a little.

Don't get me wrong though. I still enjoy most of the album. But it pales when it stands next to Trent's earlier work. There are still plenty of dynamic changes and nice passages. It mostly suffers because of the sameness of a lot of the music. Not the best representation of NIN ingenuity, but still pretty good. Unfortunately, I have to give it about 3 1/2 stars because of the lack of progression and I will round this down because of the way the accessibility washes out the credibility.

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 Year Zero Remixed by NINE INCH NAILS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2007
2.57 | 12 ratings

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Year Zero Remixed
Nine Inch Nails Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This album is all remixes of songs from the "Year Zero" album. This was basically one of those contractual obligation albums that Trent put together and was the last one released on Interscope Records. After this release, Trent was free from any recording contracts and could record whatever he wanted.

There were two versions of this album: the one with the track listing above and the vinyl version which consisted of 5 recorded sides and one blank side. The vinyl version had a different track list with some tracks not included on the other version and a few tracks are left off. Overall, the vinyl version ended up with 17 total tracks. The vinyl version is the one that I listened to for this review.

So, that might give you an idea of what you will get with this album. It is, for the most part, quite difficult to sit through. Most of the remixes are quite repetitive and boring, nothing like a good part of the remixes that were released by NIN in the past. It seems to me that a lot of these tracks were rushed or maybe accepted just to fill up time. Some tracks extend over 10 minutes which is way too long for the type of repetitive remixes they are. They start out promising but end up overstaying their welcome in each case.

There are some great highlights here though, but I doubt they are worth the price or time invested. "The Great Destroyer" remixed by Modwheelmood is the best track on here and even entices me to check out some of their other recordings. "Another Version of the Truth" is also quite amazing and is performed and reimagined by the Kronos Quartet. This is a beautiful performance done by strings and I would have rather heard an entire album of this Quartet doing NIN songs. It is very modern-classical sounding and very impressive.

Other than those highlights, there are a few other okay recordings, but way too many that just continue on and on for way too long. If the two versions of "Vessel" were shorter, they would have been interesting, but as they are they continue on to the extent of redundancy and become annoying. "Me, I'm Not" works the same way, starting out sounding quite interesting, but wearing out at around the 5 minute mark and by the 14th minute, your mind has already dismissed it as background noise.

I enjoy listening to NIN's remixes and especially enjoy "Closer" which is an album full of mostly remixes of that song with a few other remixes interspersed within it's close-to-an-hour length. It's funny how that album doesn't get boring even if most of the songs are remixes of the same song. They are more than remixes and the album as a whole works a lot like a concept album which is a great supplement (or sequel is you will) of "The Downward Spiral". This "Year Zero Remixes" album though is a far cry from that "Closer" album and doesn't even come close to that one. Except for the few highlights and a couple of okay tracks, this one is too disjointed or just plain uninteresting. Only completionists will want this for the long-term, but since the production and sound is good, I can't rate it as poor. So I think we can squeeze 2 stars out of it, but try to see if you can get the few highlights from the album and disregard the rest as an album that simply fulfilled the record company contract.

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 Came Back Haunted by NINE INCH NAILS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2013
2.29 | 9 ratings

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Came Back Haunted
Nine Inch Nails Crossover Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars This is just a single that came out from Nine Inch Nails' last studio album "Hesitation Marks", released in 2013. For those who already know the band (project), can figure out what kind of music you will find here, in this wonderful song called "Came Back Haunted" which happens to be my favorite one from the album above mentioned.

However, the single does not feature anything extra, it is just the song, no mixes, no b-sides, so it is like listening to a radio hit but with a single release. In other words, this might be only for those die-hard NIN fans who collect everything, or to curious people who find it cheap and does not harm their record collection. It is worth mentioning that there is a video clip of the song, directed by David Lynch, so the tension and darkness are included here, as well as the great electronic, industrial music with the fabulous Reznor's voice.

Though the song itself is wonderful, I adore it, I think this single should have contained more tracks, or something that would complement it and make it stronger.

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 The Downward Spiral by NINE INCH NAILS album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.82 | 104 ratings

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The Downward Spiral
Nine Inch Nails Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I have a hard time understanding why people seem to have a hard time accepting this album as a essential masterpiece of progressive rock. I can give you a lot of reasons why this is progressive and these reasons follow in the next paragraph.

It was inspired by the works of David Bowie (Low) and Pink Floyd (The Wall). It is a concept album in every sense of the word about a man on a downward spiral of destruction from the beginning to an attempt at suicide. Sure that's a heavy subject but then so was The Wall. It is musical progression in that Trent changed his focus from the synth-pop of "Pretty Hate Machine" to hard hitting guitar centered music ranging from heavy metal to prog-industrial (King Crimson style anyone?) to short bits of ambience. It has some very tricky meters through various part of the album (29/8 time signature in "March of the Pigs' for example). The heavy guitar sound was influenced by Adrian Belew (Frank Zappa, King Crimson) who felt that Trent's ideas at the time was a good outlet for Belew's guitar experimentation, in fact, Belew not only helped on two tracks ("Mr. Self Destruct" and "The Becoming") but also convinced Reznor that the guitar was a very dynamic instrument and helped steer him away from the syth-heavy sound that he was using. This album is also a study in dynamics and abruptness, there is very little use of crescendos and decrescendos, but dynamic changes are very abrupt and fit this music and the concept perfectly. Most of the songs here do not use conventional song patterns such as Verse/Chorus/Repeat. The album itself worked to inspire a host of future artists and is still essential and evident to this day. The structure of the music is based on experimental and psychedelic music and the influence of both types of music are used effectively throughout. Odd chord changes and chord manipulations (Hurt) abound. Recurring themes are scattered among the tracks tying the concept together. Inventive music and experimental sounds are all over this album (The Downward Spiral, Mr. Self Destruct, etc.) I don't know what else people need to prove that this is progressive music.

Now, I agree that it doesn't fit to everyone's taste. It is a study in extremes, so even though you get some beautifully quiet passages, most of the album is loud and noisy. It is industrial, yes, but progressive elements are infused into the music all throughout the album. If you don't like the over the top loudness and feelings of loss of control, then this is not for you. It is dark, but if it wasn't, it wouldn't be very true to it's concept. So that's just how it is. I can't blame people for not wanting to listen to it because of the subject matter, but that doesn't bother me, so I recognize this for the masterpiece that it is. It may not be the most progressive music out there, but it's definitely more progressive than any of the music that was popular (or is popular now) and anything that becomes accessible to the masses that promotes progressive music is a great thing. This is a type of album that I wouldn't be surprised if Mike Patton or Toby Driver would put out, of course with their own styles, but their styles aren't really that far removed from this. This is not an overrated album. It is the celebrated masterpiece that it deserves to be, but those that should be it's proponents are it's biggest deniers. As for myself, I can't recognize this for anything less than what it is. 5 stars.

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 Down In It by NINE INCH NAILS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1989
2.50 | 7 ratings

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Down In It
Nine Inch Nails Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

2 stars There's not really a lot to be said about this one. It is the first single that Reznor released and it is simply three versions of the song "Down In It" which was released as a teaser for NIN's first album which had not been released yet. The song is a hard driving song with a constant beat and is a great song. The versions on this single however are not as varied as NIN's later remixes would be. The first version (Skin) is simply the same remix that is on the album. The second remix (Shred) is pretty close to the same with a more accented bass line and a harder beat. However, the ending is extended by another 3 minutes and that is where the most interesting variations take place as the beat drops off and comes back and other sounds and variations come in. The third version (Singe) is the most different than the others in that it mixes all the vocals so that they are no longer in a verse/chorus format but looped in different arrangements throughout. The instrumentation is more industrial and techno sounding, but still close to the same. More experimentation is done here with the vocal arrangements than anything.

NIN's later remixes and singles would be a lot more interesting than this. Even though this is a very good song, there is not enough variation in the mixes to keep things very interesting throughout the single. This is only for those who like to hear the same song put on repeat, but does not have a lasting value except for collectors. I can't call it poor because the production value is excellent and so is the song. But there is not enough variety on the single to be anything more that a collector's item. 2 stars.

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 Closer to God by NINE INCH NAILS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1994
3.85 | 11 ratings

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Closer to God
Nine Inch Nails Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This release is considered a single of the song Closer to God by Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails. The interesting thing is that it is a 52 minute single. And it is a 9 track single. And it has 6 versions of the title track plus 1 other remixed song from "The Downward Spiral", a cover song and an original instrumental track. With this many remixes of the same song, you would think this would get very tiring and boring. Not so. I am amazed at this album and how you can take elements from the same song, break them down, rearrange them, and them bring it back to life as an almost completely different creature. Sometimes the remix is pretty clearly the same song and at other times it is very difficult to recognize except for some of the elements that have been added back in. This experimentation is intriguing.

It starts out with a nice techno version of the song and is easy to recognize. The 2nd track is a complete opposite to this and remains pretty much instrumental until it is halfway through. This one is very ominous and dark. Before the lyrics start, it is hard to recognize the theme but once they start, you think, oh yeah ok now I see, but the atmosphere stays the same. The 3rd track is the Deviation version of the title track and it has more of a recognizable sound with a new beat or rhythm throughout the mix and the lyrics pretty much left intact but with a slightly different feel from the original.

Just in case you are starting to get tired of the same song, a remix of "Heresy" follows as the 4th track. This is a nice mostly synthesized sounding version of the song, all of the instruments and even the vocals especially in the chorus have a synthesized sheen to it. Because of this, the lyrics are a little harder to understand than on the original version of this song, but still very recognizable. The 5th track is a cover of a Soft Cell song called ""Memorabilia". This one is very industrial-techno sounding with a consistent rhythm pounding through the entire track and mostly indiscernible lyrics. To me this is the least interesting track on the album and it overstays it's welcome.

The next track, no. 6, is a return to the title track remixed with the "internal" version. This one takes all kinds of liberties with the song, removing the beat at times, bringing it to front at others. Lyrics are repeated in muffled or whispered voices and phrases are out of order as well as the instrumental phrases put in different places, inverted, turned upsidedown and insideout. Very interesting remix. It gives you a distinct feeling of being dragged even further down into the darkness that the main protagonist in the album "The Downward Spiral" is experiencing. The song builds to a wild climax and segues into the sudden whispy beat of the next track which is the instrumental track "March of the Fuckheads" which is original and not related to the "March of the Pigs" track from the album. It is mostly rhythm and sounds, very whispy and flighty sounding if that makes sense with synthesized arpeggios traveling from one channel to the other and somewhat similar to "Fly Like an Eagle" by Steve Miller Band but very warped.

Track 8 returns to the another remix of the same theme, the Further Away version. This one is another dark spooky version which I feel represents the bottom of the pit at the end of the downward spiral were lyrics suddenly shout through. Dynamics are changing a lot here with even a short disco spurt. Everything is mixed up here. On track 9, when the original version of the song starts, it's like you have finally emerged from the darkness into some strange form of sanity. But when everything clears and you get the organized version of the song and you understand what it's all about, maybe things aren't so rosy afterall. But I know this, after this terrifying ride, the orginal song stuck on the end of the album is like a welcome relief.....until you get that extended ending with the distorted piano, then you think maybe things aren't so rosy afterall.

This is a great remix album and is probably the closest a remix album will get to being a concept album, continuing the story from "The Downward Spiral" or experiencing the downward journey through one theme and a lot of variations. Either way, it has a lot of the same effect as the original album does and I find it very effective and interesting most of the way through the album. I do consider this an excellent addition to your prog collection especially if you are a fan of hard industrial sound, I could even consider this a close kin to King Crimson's "Thrak" album or even the "Thrakattack" album in that it is similar to it's effectiveness. Anyway, that's it. 4 stars. One of the best remix singles/EPs ever.

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 March of the Pigs by NINE INCH NAILS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1994
3.88 | 7 ratings

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March of the Pigs
Nine Inch Nails Crossover Prog

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This review might be more accurately labeled "The ongoing confessions of a Nine Inch Nails junkie, part whatever." I've never really understood why this group's music appeals to me yet I've come to accept that it just does and not let myself worry about it too much. It's how I roll so I reckon it's that different-strokes-for-different-folks syndrome in action that makes human beings so eccentric and unmanageable. For instance, I've never "gotten" Andy Warhol's Op Art stuff but Picasso's weird cubist work draws me in every time. Go figure. The fact is, if NIN's material is a big turn off for you then you've discovered that by now and my admiration for them won't change your opinion one iota. I can only speak as one who enjoys most everything they put out, including their singles of which there are many. So indulge me or move on to the next review. It's your call.

"March of the Pigs" is presented verbatim as it is on the groundbreaking CD "The Downward Spiral." All I can say is if you don't know already how nerve-grinding and abrasive this band's music can be at times then this will be a real eye-popper and pants-ripper for you. It's an incredibly aggressive, high-velocity angry attack on the senses that features two shockingly serene piano breakdown moments that grant your brain a couple of breathers in the nick of time. It's an exhilarating three-minute ride through rocky fields of mayhem. "Reptilian" is a Dave Ogilvie remix of "Reptile" from the same classic album. It's a thrilling, smashingly percussive piece of industrial- flavored prog rock wherein he manipulates gang leader Trent Reznor's explosive drum sounds and synthesized noise samples to create a towering specimen of modern aural art that's spellbinding in a disturbing way. At 8:40 in length it's a wild excursion for your ears. "All the Pigs All Lined Up" is a seven and a half minute remix of the disc's namesake single. I find NIN's overindulgent extravaganzas such as these intriguing because I see them as creative exercises in accentuating different aspects of the original tracks that were either buried in the mix or left out altogether. In this case it's what sounds like a live audience's enthusiastic responses and a segment featuring feral hogs snorting and rooting around in a pen. "A Violet Fluid" is a somewhat short interlude that offers up some punchy Reznorisms. The final entry is "Underneath the Skin," another extended remix by Ogilvie of "Reptile." It's a rhythmic exploration of studio-induced scrapes and bruises arranged in an ever-changing mosaic of alien textures and tortured tones. I'll put it this way. If you're looking for catchy melodies this is the last place you'll wanna be. Trust me.

If you're open-minded and willing to take a walk on the wild side then perhaps Nine Inch Nails will tickle your fancy as it does mine. Keep in mind they might prove disastrous to your equilibrium, though. It's the nature of the beast. Don't ask me to explain my obsession with them because it can't be dissected or debated. I will say this. If you liked what you heard on "The Downward Spiral" album then you'll like this 5-song collection, too. As their singles go this one is relatively tractable and tame so I doubt it'll cause any permanent brain damage unless you play it for the uninitiated without warning. 3.8 stars.

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 Broken by NINE INCH NAILS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1992
3.37 | 38 ratings

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Broken
Nine Inch Nails Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is extreme music. This is what Trent Reznor wanted to make after the huge success of Pretty Hate Machine, but the record company wanted a new record that was basically a copy of PHM. Reznor switched labels after some litigation and got what he wanted, thanks to Jimmy Iovine introducing him to Intrerscope. At first, Reznor didn't like Interscope either and was suspicious of them wanting the same thing as the previous record company, but he was given the freedom he wanted and recorded this EP of noise and heavy industrial rock.

This recording works well and one of the main reasons is because of it's EP length. It contains a short instrumental that builds the tension, two hard and heavy tracks, followed by another tension building short instrumental and then two more rip ass songs. After that, you get two excellent covers, in my opinion, the best part of the album. "Physical" is an Adam Ant cover with all the pop elements ripped away by an amazing wall of sound. "Suck" is a Pigface cover which is a band featuring Ministry and Reznor. This time the industrial is very prominent again, but the 2 covers are maybe just a tiny bit less noisy....but then again....maybe not. Explosive, emotional, angry and exciting. Progressive because of the broken barriers apparent in the music and production more than the actual song formation, but progressive nevertheless. There would be better albums to come, but this one is still and excellent addition to any prog rock collection.

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 Further Down the Spiral by NINE INCH NAILS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1995
3.42 | 17 ratings

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Further Down the Spiral
Nine Inch Nails Crossover Prog

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Modern expressionism is a funny thing. In that subjective realm one man's art is another man's shart. In the visual field, for example, I find Pablo Picasso's paintings to be inexplicably intriguing while Jackson Pollock's stuff leaves me scratching my bean as to why it's so revered. Gotta chalk it up to the "different strokes for different folks" syndrome. In music it's even more pronounced. I can't tell you why Nine Inch Nails' abstract aural creations are able to stimulate certain parts of my psyche but they reliably do. I also understand why others would deem their music as noisy, confusing synthetic cacophony that has absolutely no redeeming qualities. Serene it's not. It's one of those mysteries that makes being alive a true adventure if you allow conundrums like that to invigorate your mind instead of confounding it. For whatever reason I find Trent Reznor's contributions to be highly progressive as he constantly challenges the threshold of what I can tolerate and, at the same time, delivers moments of emotional clarity that I can't get anywhere else. I'm not saying that everything this band produces is a masterpiece. Far from it. Some of it disgusts me and some of it I have to write off as the crazed rantings of a drug addicted alcoholic who (at the time) had no inner compass but often there will be a song or a passage within a track that exquisitely transcends the mundane and the ordinary. That's when NIN scratches what's itching in me and I can only utter, "Wow." I also hold great admiration for Trent's adventurous spirit that encourages him to not only share every note of his music with the world fearlessly but to invite other artists to deconstruct and tinker with his tunes at will. That's why the discography of NIN contains so many singles and remixes. I've personally found that by investigating those various releases I gain a better understanding and appreciation for what their "official" studio albums contain. "The Downward Spiral" is a landmark recording. "Further Down the Spiral" turns it on its head to see what will fall out.

The opener, "Piggy (Nothing Can Stop Me Now)," will give the recipient a pretty good idea of what they've gotten themselves into right off the bat. To be sure, guest mixer Rick Rubin's slant on this song is radical. After a typically strange intro a furious chorus (aided by Dave Navarro's tortured guitar) intrudes and then alternates with slightly jazzy verse segments until your brain is tempted to bolt for safety through the nearest door. There are three cuts that are derived from a jarring tune on "Downward Spiral" ("Mr. Self Destruct") and "The Act of Self Destruction, Part 1" is the initial installment of the trilogy. It features an engaging meld of a repeating down beat surrounded by industrial intrusions, whispers and the occasional fingernails-on-the-blackboard ear squinchers that will test your mettle. In other words, it ain't for the timid. "Self Destruction, Part 2" is built on a stronger, more direct drum kit pattern while a supercharged, brittle electric guitar gives it a razor sharp edge. The whole piece emotes a sense of extreme urgency that is intimidating. "The Downward Spiral (The Bottom)" is next, a number that presents an ethereal, discombobulating soundscape at the beginning before a flowing, liquid rhythm ensues that carries you atop a toxic current as you glide through threatening scenery. It's quite a surreal experience. "Hurt (Quiet)" follows and it's a noticeably different version from the original but not so much that it loses its galvanizing atmosphere that engulfs me like a room full of soft cotton. No matter what shape it takes, this song is incredible and oddly soothing.

"Eraser (Denial; Realization)" immediately erects a splintery wall of tension but, unfortunately, it never goes anywhere interesting. It does have a groove, though, so it's good for wild living room dancing in the dark, I suppose. Aphex Twin composed "At the Heart of It All," a hypnotic, ominous collage of pulsating sounds parading in front of a two-note symphonic drone. It's another curious track that's hard to describe because it's so foreign to what I'm used to hearing. "Eraser (Polite)" sports a much more subdued aura in that it's just Reznor's vocal over what sounds like a pump organ. At only 1:15 in duration, it's a very brief but nonetheless disturbing excursion into wicked thoughts and aspirations. "Self Destruction, Final" offers up a soft intro before the familiar, overbearing theme barges in only to dissolve into disarray momentarily and then reassemble to harass your senses mercilessly. It's kind of a casserole of elements from the other two renditions thickly layered to emit the maximum amount of intensity. "The Beauty of Being Numb" is a hybrid. The first section, manufactured by NIN, is a knockabout mash of noises and unintelligible voices while the second, contributed by Aphex Twin, is a muted jazz movement accompanied by what sounds like electronic hog snorts and then what I can only describe as a female's dreamy moans as she pleasures a man. It's definitely the weirdest thing on the disc. "Erased, Over, Out" is sort of a continuation of the sensual moaning samples that ended the previous tune joined by Trent's angst-sated screams reverberating in the background.

Now, if you think that I've just critiqued a CD that's so far out there that no one in their right mind would go near it, think again. "Further Down the Spiral" was released in June of 1995 and proceeded to climb the charts to the #23 position so obviously it filled a need. Selling over 50,000 copies, it went on to become one of the most successful remix albums of all time so it's somewhat comforting to know that there are a host of other people out there like me who find Nine Inch Nails irrepressibly magnetic and necessary. Sometimes you just gotta let go of your inhibitions and let a little madness seep in. For some reason it has the uncanny ability to heal what ails ya. If you're brave enough, dive in. 3.4 stars.

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 Closer to God by NINE INCH NAILS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1994
3.85 | 11 ratings

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Closer to God
Nine Inch Nails Crossover Prog

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I don't know what it is, exactly, but there's something about Nine Inch Nails' music that fascinates me. I'm usually put off by vulgarity and totally-out-of-left-field, noisy modernistic fare yet when it comes out of the mind of Trent Reznor it all makes perfect sense to me and I'm okay with it. Go figure. For some reason I can't imagine his work being as invitingly honest and uncompromising without those ingredients liberally sprinkled in. I'm also impressed by his productivity. It would seem that if he wasn't out on tour with the band he was living 24/7 in the studio and recording constantly. Now, the fact that he was severely addicted to alcohol and cocaine throughout the 90s no doubt contributed to his preference for being a mole-like workaholic, self-sequestered in the seclusion of a soundproof control room, but that compulsion-fueled, health-threatening lifestyle he chose to lead didn't diminish the genius that resided inside the creations that emerged in spite of his afflictions. He was a driven man. For example, whenever NIN released a single you didn't get just a longer version of the song, you got a variety of translations of that particular tune along with some bonus stuff thrown in for good measure. That's the case with the "Closer to God" CD. Trent was like the rich but ambitious kid on the block who built his own treehouse and then, rather than being an effete snob about his achievement, invited all his neighborhood pals over to add their two cents to the interior decorating scheme and the overall Feng shui arrangement of the furniture. When "Closer" became a wildly popular cut on FM radio and as the macabre video turned into a highly-requested big deal on MTV Reznor didn't change his mode of operations one bit. He brought in an eclectic slew of musicians, technicians, producers and mix-down artists and gave them free rein to reshape the number as they wished. The result is an engaging fifty-one minutes or so of some very intriguing variations on, with a few exceptions, a central theme.

The first cut is "Closer to God," a remix by Trent, Sean Beavan and Brian Pollack. The strong techno influence adds a lot of energy to the track and the scathing guitars give it considerably more grit than the original possesses. "Closer (Precursor)" follows and I consider it the apex of the record. Label this the "haunted house" take, complete with ghostly rattles and creaks abounding in the dank air. I love the imaginative liberties that Coil and Danny Hyde took with the premise and especially how they tricked out the vocal. The last segment is unexpectedly jazzy, as well. "Closer (Deviation)" is next and it's definitely a departure but not a bad one. Jack Dangers and Craig Silvey give it a laid-back semi-hip-hop vibe minus the distraction of any unnecessary rapping being included that would've disastrously ruined the mood. "Heresy (Blind)" is a cool detour. This revamping of a song from the album "The Downward Spiral" constructed by Dave Ogilvie, Anthony Valcic and Joe Bisara is clever and multi-faceted in that it never stays in a stationary atmospheric condition long enough to grow stifling. "Memorabilia" is Reznor's cover of a Soft Cell tune (a British group that was a purveyor of Synthpop in the early 80s). This is the kind of experimental aural art that Trent championed at a time when so many of his peers were content to be followers of popular and more commercial trends. Listening to this cut, it's obvious that he wasn't afraid to color outside the lines. The tune is basically a layer-upon-layer construction of samples and loops that I find strangely alluring.

"Closer (Internal)" was manufactured by the team of Bill Kennedy, Scott Humphrey, John "Geetus" Aguto, Paul Decarli and Eric Claudiex. I'll classify this one as the "fat" interpretation as their tactful use of distortion and white noise broadens the number's scope massively as they put an emphasis on manipulating the dynamics. "March of the F**kheads," rendered by Adrian Sherwood, is a throbbing instrumental that truly embodies the genre known as "Industrial Rock." It's akin to being led blindfolded through a hot, busy steel mill. The same 5-member crew that conjured up the "Internal" cut delivers "Closer (Further Away)." It's an abstract and less-restricted excursion than the others. The arrangement doesn't rely as heavily on the rhythm track, dropping it out sometimes and at others isolating it in a corner of the soundscape. It gets extremely intense in places so it's not for the easily intimidated or those prone to suffering claustrophobic episodes. The finale is the official "Closer" single, culled intact from the album except that the eerie, off-kilter piano at the end is allowed 13 more seconds of life. No matter how many times I hear it I'm mesmerized by its irresistible aura.

As an aside, I caution the younger, horny male proggers out there who might be tempted to use Trent's blatant phrase (that describes without pretense what he'd like to do to his lady friend) as a pickup line in a bar. Most likely you'll get a stinging slap across your face for being a rude jerk. However, if the woman being addressed doesn't flinch and actually accedes to accommodate you in your stated desire she probably isn't the kind of girl you'd want to take home to meet mom or to escort to the next church ice cream social if you catch my drift so be careful what you ask for. You might pick up more than a one-night-stand. Remember that Mr. Reznor was merely expressing his libido's angst and pent up frustration at the time, not advocating a new, surefire approach to mastering the mating game. (When we randy tars tried that bold ploy in the 70s it didn't work to our satisfaction then, either. Just sayin'.) Anywho, if you like what NIN does then this won't be a disappointment but an augmentation. To my ears it's as progressive-minded as it gets. 3.8 stars.

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