GENRES: Industrial Rock, Alternative, Electronic, Rock, Techno
TOP TRACKS: Copy of a, Came Back Haunted, Find My Way, Disappointed, Everything, Satellite, Various Methods of Escape, I Would For You, In Two
Trent Reznor's belovedly creepy Industrial Rock project, Nine Inch Nails has returned yet again unexpectedly as Reznor announced earlier this year that he had secretly been working on a new NIN project over the past 2 years even though he was SUPPOSED to be busy with his side-project, How to Destroy Angels. However, Nine Inch Nails fans all over the world were happy to hear that Reznor was rebooting the project.
Since the early 1990's when Trent Reznor broke out as a young man, Nine Inch Nails have become without the a doubt the most popular Industrial Rock Group of all time. Properties from electronic music such as synthesizers and drum machines fused together with basic rock elements like guitar and Reznor's angst-filled voice made for a very unusual but fresh fusion of some sounds that most music fans would never imagine going together. In this way, Reznor has already proved himself to be a genius in my mind. Being a very technically proficient musician, Reznor's ability to innovate and desire for new ideas has allowed him to create some of the strangest sounds I've ever heard in contemporary commercial-rock music.
Of course, no type of music really becomes popular unless it is catchy in some way. And although Reznor fuses together some pretty harsh and uninviting tones in his music, the vocal melodies and basic progressions are catchy and most importantly simple which definitely which definitely works in the case of Nine Inch Nails. With this new album, Hesitation Marks, Trent Reznor has re-visited some of the older ideas that he toyed around with during the earlier Nine Inch Nails days on albums like The Downward Spiral.
This particular album stacks the two singles right on top and both of them are very strong. Both "Copy of a" and "Came Back Haunted" show the same rhythmic qualities with their beats and they both have really creative detailing around them. For instance the synthesizer on "Copy of A" along with the repetitive vocal-hook go together really well in my opinion. As for "Came Back Haunted", I loved it when it was first released as the opening single and I still love it. Easily the best track on Hesitation Marks for me.
But for me, the most interesting directions taken by Reznor on this new record came forth on the two tracks, "Find My Way" and "Everything." Granted both of them are totally different sounding tracks but they are certainly new territory in terms of the rest of Nine Inch Nails' music. "Find My Way" is a very slow and ominous groove mixed with haunting piano and of course the drum machine tom fills that encompass the rhythmic section of the song. And of course like any great piece of musical art, this track builds. Constantly new layers of back-up vocals and random melodies and various new sounds make this one epic track. Excellent.
As for everything, this track sounds a lot like an 80's pop track with a really nice guitar tone. The bouncy bass line and the straight drum pattern make it sound pretty poppy. Not to mention some of Reznor's hooks in the chorus are incredibly melodic and infectious. However, this song still kicks ass in its various respects. I think because of how unexpected and strange it sounds, I like it even more than I normally would.
Trent Reznor is a man of emotion and passion. Above all else, he is an ever-changing artist. There is a reason that 1995 Trent Reznor does not sound like Trent Reznor today. He is a changed man with a changed outlook on music and therefore it is refreshing to see his musical level evolve with his ability.
Among these other new sounds I also heard just plain out noise-rock and borderline shoe-gazing sounds on some of these tracks. I'd like to say that the new sound caught my ear but it simply didn't. Heavy distortion and noisy chaos is not something that completely suits Nine Inch Nails. To me the project sounds best when each element of the band is clearly recognizable and not muddied within the sound of the overall mix.
Also, some of the tracks towards the latter end of this album were really lackluster and very standard even for Trent Reznor. For example, I didn't really enjoy "While I'm Still Here". The percussive rhythms mixed with the robotic synth hooks made for this techno-like groove that I didn't particularly care for...at all.
This being said, Hesitation Marks is an outright success for Trent Reznor in his efforts to successfully reboot this project. Nine Inch Nails are as big as they were in the 1990's in my opinion. After headlining Lollapalooza with a KILLER set filled with hits, deep cuts as well as some new stuff (Which I highly recommend everyone check out on youtube), NIN are right on top of the alternative rock chain. And while it may not be the most commercial and mainstream audience, Reznor's long-time group has gotten huge over the past 20 years and rightfully deserved. With another adventurous and experimental record, Trent Reznor has cemented himself into place as one of the greatest musical minds of our time.