Further Down The Spiral





New Musical Express


Juni 1995



Autor: Amy Raphael




Further Down The Spiral

(Island/All formats)

ACCORDING TO Courtney Love, Trent Reznor considers himself to be the biggest recording star since Elvis Presley. Such arrogance is dangerous: Nine Inch Nails may have become a huge live band in America over the past year and with Natural Born Killers Trent has compiled the best film soundtrack of the ‘90s, but that doesn‘t give the band a licence to produce two dismal, tedious albums in as many years.

The Downward Spiral‘ was an ambitious project — Trent talked about it as a concept album inspired by Pink Floyd‘s alienation opus ‘The Wall‘ — but ultimately it was no more than a wayward industrial rock LP which was so relentlessly intense bleak and unfocussed that it was virtually unpalatable. Considering the futility of that, releasing a follow-up of remixes and reinterpretations is even more pointless.

‘Further Down The Spiral’ is, despite its title, marginally less harrowing than the original Rick Rubin takes ‘Piggy (Nothing can Stop Me Now)‘ and destroys its pretensions as a ballad by giving it a thunderous hardcore opening, while the Aphex Twin‘s instrumental version of ‘At The Heart Of IT’ puts an ambient soundscape over menacing samples. Both of these are at least variations on a theme. On the other hand, the three takes of ‘Mr Self Destruct‘ (two of which are remixed by JG Thirlwell, the third by — indulgence ahoy — Nine Inch Nails) are brutal, dispassionate but most damningly dull versions of a song so full of self-loathing that it makes you wonder whether Trent has ever seen daylight.

So why do Nine Inch Nails exert such a hold over teenage America? Because Trent knows how to project a sinister personality to a nation where serial killers are primetime celebrities: witness the recording of ‘The Downward Spiral‘ in the house where the Manson Family murdered Sharon Tate, witness the videos full of decaying animals and graphic scenes of human decapitation. He is an anti-hero, a ‘90s goth whose S&M fetishwear, floured-up body and stage-diving transform his stage shows into a disturbing, macabre reflection of the rotten core of the American dream.

Such clever manipulation of teen neuroses is eventually bound to succeed over here an a massive scale, but ‘Further Down The Spiral‘ commits the ultimate sin: it makes evil seem tedious.


Amy Raphael