Album Review: New Nine Inch Nails album gets ‘intimate’

Photo: Trent Reznor singing during the Wave Goodbye tour at the Cruzan Amphitheater on May 8, 2009. Photo by Junette Reyes/FIUSM. 

Junette Reyes/Staff Writer

Released: September 4, 2013

To assume and expect an artist will maintain their “sound” for the rest of their music career is outright ridiculous. The same applies to Trent Reznor, the mastermind behind Nine Inch Nails.

The recent release of “Hesitation Marks” has brought about this idea that Reznor’s music has changed, along with the man himself.


Trent Reznor singing during the Wave Goodbye tour at the Cruzan Amphitheater on May 8, 2009.
Photo by Junette Reyes/FIUSM

There was so much uproar over this, that fans eventually set up an online petition to remove “Everything” from the album, a song that may sound different for NIN at first, but still has potential.

The interesting thing is that it was very easy to nitpick “Everything,” alongside the singles released before the album, titled “Copy of A” and “Came Back Haunted.”

However, when taking in the album as a whole, the song fit right where it belonged. It didn’t awkwardly stand out as the surprisingly “upbeat” song of the album.

It really isn’t an upbeat song to begin with. There’s something somewhat disturbing about it, and if NIN is behind it, there definitely is.


From left to right: Bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen, frontman Trent Reznor, guitarist Robin Finck, and drummer Ilan Rubin.
Photo by Junette Reyes/FIUSM

Despite the pre-release controversy, the true standout track of the album is “Various Methods of Escape.” Reznor has always been a very expressive songwriter, but he’s never been as intimate as he is with this song and, dare I say it, the album as a whole.

“I’ve gotta let go/I’ve gotta get straight/Why’d you have to make it so hard?/Let me get away,” sings Reznor in the song, maintaining the theme of losing oneself to an addiction. Something that Reznor is too familiar with, given his abuse of drugs and alcohol in his past.

Reznor has long since turned over a new leaf in his life, though, and just keeps getting better and better.

As “Hesitation Marks” proves, his music has changed along with him, but not so drastically.

Although there is a much cleaner sound, as is to be expected of an Academy Award winner for “Best Original Score” with “The Social Network,” there are still very familiar sounds from past albums and side projects, such as his new band How to Destroy Angels, fronted by his wife, Mariqueen Maandig.

In fact, this seems to be an album where most songs can seem to fit as contemporary additions to past albums, all the way back to “Pretty Hate Machine.”

If there’s one thing that is slightly missing, it is the angst Reznor is known for. The album doesn’t seem to comfortably declare itself as an NIN album–or a standout album–until midway through.

The intro, “Eater of Dreams,” seems a little bland compared to other instrumental intros, such as “Pinion” from “Broken.” “Copy of A” and “Came Back Haunted” are decent enough songs to hold their own.

Things quickly go downhill with “All Time Low,” which is probably the only downside to this album. I just don’t feel comfortable having Reznor cooing “baby” into my ear.

The album finally breaks stride midway through with–you guessed it–“Everything.”

The song that was considered the album’s demise turned out to be the very thing that eventually saved it and put things back on track.

The good thing about NIN is that you never really know the true potential of a song until you hear it live. Which is what I’m looking forward to this October.

NIN fans looking for a repeat of a past album, look elsewhere. Otherwise, welcome back and welcome home.

Final verdict: 4/5 

Be the first to comment on "Album Review: New Nine Inch Nails album gets ‘intimate’"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.