Sep 12 2013
The American industrial rock project, Nine Inch Nails was founded by Trent Reznor in 1988. As its main producer, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist, Reznor is the only official member of Nine Inch Nails and is solely responsible for its direction.
Nine Inch Nails’ music spans a wide range of genres. After recording a new album, Reznor usually assembles a live band to perform with him. The touring band features a revolving lineup that often rearranges songs to fit a live setting usually employing visual elements to accompany performances.
Underground music audiences warmly received Nine Inch Nails in its early years. Reznor produced several highly influential records in the 1990s that achieved widespread popularity. Many Nine Inch Nails songs became radio hits; two Nine Inch Nails recordings have won Grammy Awards; and their entire catalog has reached record sales exceeding over 30 million albums worldwide, with 11 million sales certified in the United States alone. In 1997, Reznor even appeared in Time magazine’s list of the most influential people.
However in 2009, Reznor appeared to retire NIN as he focused on other projects including film and video game scores but after a five-year hiatus the industrial rock icon has revived his original outfit with renewed focus with his eighth studio album Hesitation Marks. NIN’s first new work since 2008’s experimental Ghosts I-IV surprises in more ways than one. When Reznor sings: “I am just a shadow of a shadow of a shadow”, it’s clear that NIN hasn’t lapsed into a tired formula like most new-generation metallers.
The new album does sounds a lot more austere and minimalist compared with the earlier works of NIN, but this has also allowed Reznor to explore the outer limits of the Nine Inch Nails sound. NIN’s discography has mostly functioned within the sonic parameters laid down by Reznor’s all-time favourites — Depeche Mode, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Jane’s Addiction — while seeming impervious to shifts in the contemporary musical landscape. Hesitation Marks seems much more in tune with the shifting musical styles of the present age.
The brilliant Copy of A marks the beginning of the intriguing change of pace for Nine Inch Nails, stripping down their metal machine music and rebuilding it with only the most integral scraps. The best songs here follow a similar process of gradually fleshing out a skeleton, from the fidgety funk of Satellite to the disquieting drive of Disappointed.
Hesitation Marks is a remarkably strident album, melding electronic body music and tight disco rhythms with explosive choruses. There’s also an unusual exuberance on tracks like the power-filled Everything, though the music never surrenders its tense, menacing undertones. NIN are capable of blistering nihilism but also heart-wrenchingly beautiful songwriting. Here, Reznor also demonstrates his vocal versatility, slipping into lusty tech-funk on All Time Low and Satellite. It’s an adrenaline-rushing blast of dreams and nightmares – and proof that this seminal outfit is still in their invigorating prime.