Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Nine Inch Nails - Things Falling Apart CD (album) cover


Nine Inch Nails


Crossover Prog

3.42 | 21 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
3 stars In my book there are three essential qualities that determine whether or not I consider an artist or band to be a true purveyor of progressive rock music. They must be creative. They must be unorthodox. And they must be honest. Without even one of those components they inevitably come up short. They may be a lot of things but they ain't prog. Therefore Trent Reznor and his collective, malleable and ever-changing group known as Nine Inch Nails are a perfect fit for this site. I understand completely if their brand of aural art is about as enjoyable for you as third degree rope burns but the fact remains that they're undeniably playing in a league of their own. I've personally been intrigued by what they produce since I first heard them in the late 80s and thought "Holy smokes! This is definitely not Peter Frampton." Now, I'll admit that NIN's music isn't what I would choose to wind down from a frustrating, tolerance-testing bread & milk run to Walmart nor is it something I listen to regularly, for that matter. But when I'm in the right mood they scratch what itches in me in a way no other entity can and there's a lot to be said for that. I still consider "The Downward Spiral" to be the closest they've come to manufacturing a masterpiece (they missed the coveted fifth star by a millimeter) but they're always consistently rebellious and remarkably unafraid of failure with every work they release whether it's an album or a collection of remixes as is "Things Falling Apart." They don't hold anything back, that's for sure, as they shamelessly make available their handiwork for all to hear and ponder. I kinda like that attitude. Throw it all out there and let the masses sort it out as they please.

This disc opens with the best of the bunch, "Slipping Away." A thunderous beat that sounds like Wreck-it Ralph pounding on the roof sets up a tension-filled atmosphere. Trent and some guy named Alan Moulder did the mixing honors on this song and the one that follows (others did the others) and they patiently build up a collage of guitar and synth riffs before introducing the funky verse section structured around Reznor's anguished repeating of the tune's title. The monstrous bass frequencies they fill the basement with will rattle your sporran. What really intrigues me about this cut is how it manages to convey a relatively simple idea while being highly complex on another level at the same time. "The Great Collapse" is next and it drifts in mysteriously led by some basic piano chords. Soon drums appear sporting a strong beat pattern, traveling underneath a bank of assorted sequenced noises. There's no vocal until the end when Trent warbles a few lines of "This is what it feels like!" but the spare approach does achieve its desired effect. "The Wretched" is also a highlight of the proceedings. A pulsating drone starts things off and persists while Reznor chants "But it didn't turn out the way you wanted it to." Jarringly the drums barge in and forcibly drive the track hard and then an ascending, infectious guitar riff takes over. In the last segment the drums become muffled, adding suspense to the strange aura they've erected. What comes next is the first of three alternate versions of a tune from "The Fragile" album. "Starf**kers, Inc. (Sherwood)" features ominous air-raid sirens wailing over a wild episode of electronic warfare that ensues amidst shouts of the song's not-so-subtle moniker. (Debasing groupies is nothing new. The Rolling Stones included a number containing the same graphic theme on their '73 LP, "Goats Head Soup.") While the overall aura is intense it isn't all that compelling.

"The Frail" offers an interesting change of pace moment by having a real string section flow atop rotating synth notes as well as an odd menagerie of sampled incidentals that dart in and out like fireflies. Brief but intriguing. "Starf**kers, Inc. (Ogilvie)" curiously begins as if it were some kind of modern day pop ditty, then it rapidly descends into a hellish disco motif where some of Trent's irate lyrics stream through the mayhem. Carly Simon's famously snarky line from "You're So Vain" is devilishly delivered with gusto. "Where Is Everybody?" is next. Vague sounds sneak in from under a fog to establish a semi-contemporary groove brightened by electric piano chords. Like the majority of Reznor's compositions the tune's arrangement involves gradual buildups and sudden teardowns but this one lacks focus and tends to meander. Their cover of Gary Numan's "Metal" is a treat, though. The song's obvious New Wave vibe is presented without sarcasm and the somewhat laidback feel allows Trent to do his trademark I'm-singing-right-next-to-your-ear vocalization with lines like "My Mallory heart is sure to fail/I could crawl around the floor/just like I'm real/like you" and "All I know is/no one dies/I'm still confusing love with need." Weird but cool. The second half of the song is surprisingly serene and hypnotic. For "10 Miles High" a hazy onset is followed by a threatening beat and a solemn guitar riff that bursts in to set up the questionable musical premise. While not particularly memorable, it does take the listener through a maze of dynamic movements. "Starf**kers, Inc." brings up the rear. This time a throbbing bass drum is surrounded by what sounds like whirring mechanical machine-generated effects. It's a parade of unnerving and seemingly random series of synthetic bells and whistles that add up to be a crazed experiment that falls short of being able to engage even the most liberal of prog ears.

"Things Falling Apart" was released on November 21, 2000 and was met with a mix of confusion and cautious acceptance in the ranks of their fans. Critics in general issued brutally nasty reviews and rendered awful assessments of its content. I'm on the fence but I can assure you it's far from being a trash heap. I find it alternately alluring and repulsive and that doesn't bother me at all. It's important to note that Trent Reznor was in the throes of a horrible addiction to alcohol and cocaine at the time and his substance abuse no doubt affected his ability to discern what was inventive from what was indulgent at times and this album reflects a certain amount of that deficiency. Genius or no, his afflictions certainly played a part in determining what came tumbling out of his imagination. Sometimes being brutally transparent can be a benefit and sometimes it can be detrimental. "Things Falling Apart" clearly displays both sides of the coin and we fans can at least rejoice in the fact that Trent finally defeated his demons in the years that followed and moved on. 2.9 stars.

Chicapah | 3/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this NINE INCH NAILS review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.