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Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts VI: Locusts CD (album) cover


Nine Inch Nails

Crossover Prog

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5 stars Trent Reznor's project Nine Inch Nails 'Ghosts' albums have given progressive creds to the artist. First, in 2008, he released the 'Ghosts I-IV' album with a huge collection of somewhat short, but experimental and interesting instrumentals. The album was a pleasant surprise for many listeners that has been fans of previous NIN albums as it was something no one really expected. Then in 2020, during the pandemic, he released two more albums simultaneously that continued on with the 'Ghost' project, namely 'Ghost V: Together' (which is mostly ambient and atmospheric) and this album, 'Ghosts VI: Locusts'. These two albums differ a bit from the first album in that the tracks all have individual names. The tracks on these albums are much longer (for the most part) and as a result, but albums feel more like complete, concise albums.

The styles of these two album differ a bit from each other. They are both instrumental, but where 'Ghosts V' has more of a calming effect with fuzzy and unclear tones and styles, 'Ghosts VI' is brighter and has a more focused style, the notes clear and with less background noise. 'VI' also has more tracks than 'V' (most of the tracks on 'V' were quite long) and is about 10 minutes longer. The tracks are more varied as far as timing goes with a few tracks being over 10 minutes, a few more that are around 7-9 minutes, and a big handful that are shorter. This album begins with a more varied approach among the tracks, but as it moves into the 2nd half, things seem to get more and more bleak sounding. To me, this is the best of the 'Ghosts' projects to date, especially the first half, which is at times, surprisingly Avant-prog sounding, enough to even make pan-heads get excited.

The Cursed Clock - Sparse and spooky with a simple piano with treatments. This one proves that darkness and evil can be portrayed without a lot of noise. There is a running piano passage going on underneath the slower low piano chords and the constant chiming of the clock represented by repetitive piano notes and some cool treatments. Where the previous part of the Ghosts series was murky and muddled, this one in contrast is bright and upfront. Awesome!

Around Every Corner - We move right into the next track as the style from the previous gets built upon. A few more instruments get added into the mix and some surprising heavy riffs get thrown in from time to time. Some brass plays along plaintively, but tension builds and builds with the piano pushing it all forward. Things stay mostly sparse and clear giving this album a completely different feel. There is an undercurrent of uneasiness underneath everything with shifting, shuffling effects squirming along as the worms bore into your mind.

The Worriment Waltz - A slow, wandering waltz with more treated piano and etc. A sudden escalation of noise increases in the second half which is suddenly cut off as a dark drone and a solitary muted trumpet plays.

Run Like Hell - A percussive pattern carries this one forward as low synth notes rumble underneath and the muted trumpet plays. After a few minutes, a heavy beat comes in while the trumpet and effects carry on. It soon goes back to the original percussive pattern again while the sound tends to meld together as it continues along and then separates again.

When It Happens (Don't Mind Me) - Sudden bright, clangy tones play in patterns with other treated sounds while remaining rhythmic. Sudden eruptions of noise and harshness come and go.

Another Crashed Car - Quiet, sparse and dark mostly made up of a repeated piano note and a lot of unsettling noises.

Temp Fix - Distorted instruments against a strict rhythm, but no melody.

Trust Fades - Returns to the muffled feel of the last album with notes being bent and manipulated so that a melody can't be picked out. All the while, there is quite an uneasy and quiet tension to it all.

A Really Bad Night - Slow moving treated piano underlayed by nightmarish effects buried deep underneath.

Your New Normal - A microtonal line runs underneath a dreary synth while twinkling chimes and percussive tones chase each other around.

Just Breathe - The most ambient of the tracks on this album. Airy effects play alone until a bright piano plunks single notes slowly along with reverb effects sustaining the single notes out to infinity creating quiet drones through manipulation. The noise builds and layers are added after the piano starts and dark tension builds. Things soften down again when the piano returns. When the piano eventually stops, you are left alone with a building drone.

Right Behind You - Muffled keyboard chords in the darkness.

Turn This Off Please - A churning background against ominous sounds. A trumpet and piano emerge from the depths but remain mostly submerged under the percussive noises. Almost halfway through, the churning machine in the background becomes louder and tension builds, and then suddenly pulls back again.

So Tired - Treated piano chords ring out solemnly above a continuing drone buried deep into the background and then it all fades to silence.

Almost Dawn - Tonal percussion plays over a ominous background sounding like a nightmare nursery. All seems to be in place for a short while until the background becomes louder and louder taking things over and then suddenly disappearing leaving behind the threatening quiet again.

I find this album to be the most enjoyable, dynamic and versatile of the Ghosts series albums. Even though it is possibly the darkest of them all, especially in the ominous 2nd half of the album. It all comes off quite effectively and proves once again that Reznor is a musical genius. Many people doubt that NIN's should be included in the Archives, but those people seem to only be familiar with NIN's earlier, industrial-style albums and haven't heard the 'Ghosts' albums. To those listeners I suggest you give them another try, especially with the two latter ones in the series. This one, in my opinion, is an avant-prog masterpiece that utilizes noise rock, ambience, some use of drones at times and electronic wizardry to create some very deep instrumental tracks that can be very emotional and expressive.

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Posted Friday, May 21, 2021 | Review Permalink

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