Trent Reznor is Nine Inch Nails vocalist,
electro-boffin and now, as before, so member. Something like three year sago he
released his first album, “Pretty Hate Machine“, a towering testament to the
man‘s solitary and tyrannical misery. The songs were written in the garret-like
ambience of a tiny Chicago recording studio and railed against the many injustices
Trent believed bad been meted out to him by parents, politicians, TV evangelists
and the world in general. It was a fierce, introspective but ultimately melodic
affair and is credited with introducing electro-hardcore (Ministry, RevCo,
Thrill Kill Kult etc) to a wider middle American audience.
This new six-track mini-album was, according to
Reznor‘s self-penned press release, “secretly recorded“ between March und
August this year “without the permission of the record label (TVT)”. This statement
and the album‘s general vehemence have provoked rumours that “Broken“ is Reznor‘s
way of breaking his American contract. The idea Reznor set out to record something
so repellent it would be deemed unreleasable by TVT label boss Steve Gottlieb. If
that‘s so then Reznor has failed. Primarily because there‘s now (ironically
because of Nine Inch Nails) a large and voracious market for the
Reznor has described “Broken“ as “an ugly record“
and at points it is as close to excruciating as is possible without the
skeletal touch of Genesis P. Orridge. From the opening “Pinion“, which begins
as a soft Black and Decker whine, it moves with prodigious speed to near-
unbearable volume. Throughout, Reznor‘s computer-syphoned, state-of-the-art-guitars
hit like strokes of lightning, finding a conduit to the crypt beneath the cranium
where migraines set their toxins free. It‘s post Holocaust doom metal (“Wish“),
punk robotically ravaged (“Happiness In Slavery), Hellraiser blues (“Help Me I’m
In Hell“) and all the while a white-knuckled Reznor wails his unbearable wail,
his voice pitched somewhere between fattening fury and infernal f***ing agony.
What‘s caused him such unthinkable rancour is beyond imagination.
When the speed relents we‘re left with the abominable
chum and grind of machinery. At this pace we‘re provided with aural vistas of
the background to the metallic racket. Behind grotesque freak show of sound effects
– hissing steam engines, piercing trill-phones and, obscenely amplified the gynaecologically
explicit pulse of internal organs, all ultimately as nerve-tearing as the
red-hot fusillade that overlays it.
The few brief moments of succour and relief are
provided by the New Order-style twang of “Help Me I Am In Hell“ (honestly) and the
split-second silences Reznor introduces, though the latter, it must be said, leave
you with the sensation that you‘ve suddenly been set loose from the jaws of
Godzilla only to find yourself consumed in a hellish freefall.
“Pretty Hate Machine“ was an extraordinary
statement of Reznor‘s bitterness. “Broken“ sees him move rapidly and inevitably
toward self-immolation. It’s unrelentingly, compellingly, sometimes oppressively
whatever Reznor‘s intentions, will probably outsell its predecessor.
Nine Inch Nails‘ next album, due for release
next year, is somewhat surprisingly to be titled “The Downward Spiral“.
Trent, how low can you go?
The Stud Brothers