A POWERFUL"SPIRAL" FOR NINE INCH NAILS
Originally published in Gannett Magazine on May 1, 1994
Anger has always been an energy for Trent Reznor, the man who is the industrial music machine Nine Inch Nails. That anger fueled 1989's "Pretty Hate Machine" and powered 1992's EP, "Broken." Now, it has jettisoned Nine Inch Nails into new heights of powerful emotions on the long-awaited CD, "The Downward Spiral" (Nothing-TVT-Interscope Records). Reznor brought industrial music into the mainstream on the strength of the crossover hit "Head Like A Hole" and his performances on the first Lollapalooza tour. He could have taken the easy way out and gone purely mainstream with this new release by toning down the anger and making the music radio-friendly. Instead, "The Downward Spiral" is exactly that the examination of the descent of a person into the hell that is life. Unlike earlier NIN, "The Downward Spiral" is meant to be listened to as a whole, not as individual songs. It's one man's painful journey to find some universal truth in his life in all our lives. It again demonstrates Reznor's ability to weave sadly haunting lyrics around brutal, machine-like music that assaults the senses. Like on the song "Hurt": "I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel. I focus on the pain, the only thing that's real ... What have I become, my sweetest friend, everyone I know goes away in the end." In the song "Piggy," Reznor may have created a new rallying cry for those battered down by life: "Nothing can stop me now, I don't care anymore." It's a familiar refrain in his music except that Reznor does care. Life is full of pain and prejudice, he tells us, and it is not kind to the lonely. But by painstakingly examining these issues throughout his music, he helps his listeners bring things into focus. And perhaps, prevent their own downward spiral.
Transcribed by Keith Duemling