The Gritty Growl of a Recluse With Teeth

By Shane Harrison for Atlanta Journal-Constitution on May 3, 2005

Nine Inch Nails
"With Teeth"
13 tracks.
Grade: B+

Trent Reznor's not very prolific, and that might work to his advantage.

The rest of the industrial pack that emerged at the end of the '80s has either gone underground or disappeared, but a new release from Reznor still demands attention. He's in the midst of a largely sold-out tour, too, which includes two sold-out shows at the Tabernacle on May 21-22.

His reclusiveness and leisurely release schedule certainly builds the mystery, but it's what the puts on his few discs that really keeps us interested. HIs 1994 album, "The Downward Spiral", is arguably the genre's defining document, but "With Teeth" is only his fourth full-length studio album.

His singular sonic palette hasn't really changed much, but it's distinctive and rare enough that it still retains its power. And "With Teeth" is far more focused and foreceful than its sprawling 1999 predecessor "The Fragile."

On opener "All the Love in the World," Reznor melds quiet, pianistic beauty with a hint of desperation, then menaces that beauty with subdued electronic growls and a guitar figure that squeals and slithers underneath. It builds into a memorable approximation of a classic power ballad, and you can almost see the crowds at his current tour shouting along.

When he cranks it all up to 11, the assaultive beats and grinding electronics and guitar still sting. The instrumentation gets twisted into tense, tight knots of abrasiveness on tracks like "You Know What You Are?" and the title cut.

If anything has changed, it's his voice. It seems more natural, less affected than on his early albums. He sounds, despite all the despair and bile that still infect his lyrics, bolder and more assured.

It's been 15 years since his debut, but Reznor's bite (and bark) is every bit as sharp.

Transcribed by Steven Flores aka thevoid99

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