Nine Inch Nails 'With Teeth'

By Niall Doherty for XFM on May 8, 2005

Trent Reznor has a lot to answer for. Without Him, would Marilyn Manson have been so perfectly poised to inflict his hairy arse on the world? Would the road have been so clear for Linkin Park, the industrial-metal Backstreet Boys, to make synth-stomping electro-rawk a thing of Top Of The Pops rather than, say, a badly-lit metal haunt in Soho?

Trent Reznor, more or less, is the reason that your sister/daughter/brother/mother wears eyeliner like an oil spill, the man who made declaring “I wanna fuck you like an animal” more than just a reason to call in the RSPCA. And Trent is back, to restore some punk-arse black magic, and credibility, to the genre he created. ‘With Teeth’ doesn’t just have the bark that accompanies most comebacks, it has the bite too.

A whole five years since the ‘come-on-and-figure-me-out’ magno-headfuck of ‘The Fragile’, ‘With Teeth’ is the complete antithesis of that album. Whereas ‘…Fragile’ was filled with long, dark drawn-out instrumental passages (Reznor recently claimed he had nothing to say at the time, hence the lack of vocals) between dynamatic explosions of brilliance (the relentless, jagged pound of ‘We’re In This Together’ and the Tinseltown mockery screams of ‘Starfuckers Inc.’), ‘With Teeth’ is the most commercial and consistent thing Reznor has done since ‘The Downward Spiral’. Like that album, his personality is at the forefront of every song, rather than hidden in a cave of electronic squeaks and bleeps.

Although, being a mischievous little bugger, that’s exactly how ‘With Teeth’ begins, with the slow crackling beats of ‘All The Love In The World’, a near-silent Reznor coming to life in the background. By the time a piano line, bizarrely reminiscent of Fatboy Slim’s ‘Praise You’, comes washings over the rambling first few minutes, the songs leads into an electro-gospel stomp, the title repeated like a cultish mantra. Next comes the headthumping-thud of Dave Grohl’s drums at the beginning of ‘You Know What You Are’, an angry, dirty screamathon that confirms the lost voice of a generation has – finally – got his poisoned scream back. ‘The Hand That Feeds’ sounds every bit as rifftastic amidst others as it did on its own, whilst ‘Only’ equals it for accessible, anarchic power-pop.

The most complete album he’s ever done, with consistent flashes of the genius that’s been lying in wait, ‘With Teeth’ is Trent Reznor, and Nine Inch Nails, at the peak of their powers, the proper successor to ‘The Downward Spiral’, ready to sink its bloody fangs into anything that dares to contain, imitate or defy its dark, demonic brilliance.

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