31 December 2016

Nine Inch Nails - Not The Actual Events EP

So, Trent Reznor kept good on his promise to release new Nine Inch Nails material in 2016!  It is always an event when these guys release something, but when I found out it was an EP, it took me a little by surprise.  Mainly because NIN have only ever released two other EPs, the perfect 'Broken' and its fantastic remix sister, 'Fixed'.  Both of those releases were back in the days before 'The Downward Spiral', before 'The Fragile' and so on and so forth.  The main thing about those EPs is that they were feral, I mean they were downright angry with the world and everything in it; Trent Reznor is now a different man; business man, Oscar winner, Apple employee, he is now the man on the inside, he is not the maverick on the raggedy edges that wanted to make noisy Depeche Mode/Ministry music.  So, whilst I am happy to be reviewing this, I am also approaching it carefully as the times (as well as myself) have changed and will this Nine Inch Nails release speak to me in the same way that those earlier (and to be honest, some of their recent) music did in the past?

01 - Branches/Bones

It starts with a low fuzz, machine noises and that haunting voices; it sounds as if it is aiming for the angst of former years and the chorus has that loud apathetic noise that you associate with Nine Inch Nails; but it also feels like a cross between 'Getting Smaller' from 'With Teeth' mixed with 'Mr Self-Destruct' from 'The Downward Spiral'.  It is over very quickly as well, as it starts to hit is groove it ends with little to no finale; a quick introduction, but lacking fire.

02 - Dear World

A pulsing, electronic beat drives this song forward, it swirls around you as the listener and loops from ear to ear.  However, it plods when it should seduce, it distracts when it should enthral; it bores when it should entertain and that is a sad state of affairs on any release, let alone one by Trent Reznor.

03 - She's Gone Away

Featuring vocals from Mairqueen Maandig, the wife of Mr Reznor and vocalist of How to Destroy Angels, this song is slow and moody once more.  However, this one has a little bit more to it; but only a little bit to it.  The verses sound as if there is still energy left in the tank, like there is some spark that will ignite and take over the song.  But the chorus sections are lifeless, even when the sirens vocals are unleashed and it makes for another plodding listen on this EP.

04 - The Idea of You

With drumming from everyone's favourite drummer for hire, Mr. David Eric Grohl, 'The Idea of You' actually sounds like it is actually going to give something other than tribute to the past.  The chorus sections sound manic, the verses are full of sinister whispering, the riff gives you a kick in the head and whilst it is once again reminiscent of previous endeavours (this time 'Wish' from the 'Broken' EP), it does at least pass on a little bit of energy and final gives the EP something a little interesting.

05 - Burning Bright (Field on Fire)

Ending the album is the song 'Burning Bright (Field on Fire)' which features another guest, this time it is Jane's Addiction & ex- Red Hot Chili Pepper guitar player, Dave Navarro.  Although you would be struggling to hear it under the dark production that has been added to the music here.  It feels like they were aiming for a wall of noise and it ends up a little 'St. Anger' for my money here, a bit like people are trying very hard to regain their youth a little and trying to make what would be a good NIN song, instead of trying to make a natural feeling song.  It has some good moments in it too, I am not going to deny that, but once again it does not feel natural to these ears and it loses appeal for that alone.

When all is said and done, this is not the best work from Nine Inch Nails; it is an EP that does not move the world, it is very faithful to the past and it does not contain the spark of excitement for me.  I spent more time being reminded of previous songs that I hunted them out, whilst not being held in rapture by the best percentage of this release.  It is not an awful EP, it is still Nine Inch Nails and the music quality is as good as ever; it is just that I have heard this from them before with more passion, innovation and fire in the belly.  I think they could not have picked a better title for the EP to be honest.

2.5 out of five - Not bad, not good - So average it is Zen.

Top track - The Idea of You

You can purchase the Not The Actual Events EP on Amazon here.

You can visit the Nine Inch Nails website here.

You can follow the activities of Nine Inch Nails on Facebook here..

You can stream Not The Actual Events EP on Deezer here.

You can stream Not The Actual Events EP on Spotify here.

You can stream Not The Actual Events EP on Tidal here.

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