This is an album I have been excited about/not expecting/totally expecting/not bothered about in equal measure. Excited about because it is here, not expecting because Trent Reznor had stated he was not going to release anything else under the NIN mocker anymore, totally expecting because Trent is a little bit of a control freak and all the Oscars and How To Destroy Angels projects are not going to help him get rid of that itch he has to be in control and finally - not bothered about because NIN sort of faded a little towards the end with The Slip and Ghosts I-IV. Those albums were good, but nothing amazing compared to With Teeth, Year Zero, Pretty Hate Machine, et all. Basically it felt that NIN had run its course and when it was announced in 2009 that it was all over, the fat lady had sung and Trent was off to pastures unknown - I was content, I felt that it had been a fantastic journey, but it was over. Time to more on and get on with our lives. But time makes it easy to look back and sometimes go back, in the back of my mind I had a feeling there might be something else, and here it is - hesitation marks. On blog for once I am not going to go into the full back story of the band, but this was announced in 2012 that new NIN material was coming and the world sort of had one of those moment that when the glory had fade, you really want to have a cigarette. There has been a successful campaign through songs being released here and there, but how has the end product turned out?
First off, this is a very minimal album, anyone expecting another Starfuckers Inc, March Of The Pigs and the more violent unhinged moments might be a bit disappointed. But this is not to say that the album is safe or comfortable - it just means the unhinged moments are just pointing the other way. Let me explain - on the song "Everything" it goes from safe to and it almost has a New Order/Killers vibes (which is basically the same thing - The Killers totally stole their sound), and then it dips into the same sort of mind set of "Smaller and Smaller". The album was produced by Alan Moulder, Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor - so a very familiar and almost comfortable set up for Trent, but there is not a note on this which does not feel as if it is not in the right place. The lead songs of "Copy Of A" and "Came Back Haunted" are not frantic statements, but calculated attempts to rest gentle hooks into you that will make this album something very special. There are moments like this just casually hiding in the middle of songs. Take "Various Methods of Escape" - half way through it turns into the quieter moment of "The Perfect Drug" and wham - you want to listen to it over and over again. It happens again on "Running", on "All Time Low" - you have the start of a song which does not start off as the most promising beginning and you then end up with another Trent Reznor golden moment. The crowning glory of the whole album is "In Two" the break down at the end and the build towards it just shows that he has not lost that touch - where was it between 2007 and 2009!
I want to have a negative here, I want to say that the lack of fire power ruins the album, I want to say that the ring rust from the time away has not helped, I want to say that age has tamed the beast, I want to feel like I did after The Slip and Ghosts I-IV - because if there was a negative moment it would be easier to dismiss this and stay safe in the past moments. But Trent has not allowed this, he has reformed his merry posse of vagabonds have made an industrial moment of genius here. I was sure that The Downward Spiral was their peak - proven wrong, I thought the Fragile was their peak - proven wrong, again same story on With Teeth. I can honestly say that this record is amazing and will be challenging for album of the year in many magazines and people's hearts. If you even liked anything about NIN in the past, listen to this record, immerse yourself in it, and cherish it - for it is that good, it is that powerful and it is important. Now if he breaks them up again, there will be trouble......
10 out of ten - This is proof that there is a God
You can purchase one of the versions of the album from Amazon here
You can visit the Nine Inch Nails website here
You can listen to the album on Spotify here
Live performance of "Came Back Haunted"