Nine Inch Nails - The Fragile

By Jess Redmon for Altrockworld.com on December 1, 1999

The return of Nine Inch Nails comes in the sonic structures, epic style and surreal art of "The Fragile." This 23 song masterpiece takes a journey through the dark reaches of Trent Reznor's soul, expressed in a haunted forging of tortured guitars, dramatic strings, painful vocals and distorted experimental soundscapes. The sounds on "The Fragile" are familiar, however manipulated, uncertain and volatile. Nothing is what it seems and Reznor's Odyssey comes with many surprising turns and reflections as he explores the roads less traveled on a grand cyber-art scale. "Somewhat Damaged" and "The Day The World Went Away" represent Reznor's misery and emptiness, finding a soul-mate in tortured static and possessed guitars. "Starfuckers, Inc." and "We're In This Together" walk the edges of post-industrial pop with snarling cynicism and bitter optimism. "The Fragile" is a full-on art rock epic that explores the depths of unhappiness and finds some kind of light at the end of the tunnel as it heals old wounds. The production on "The Fragile" is breaktaking, melding surreal sonic atmospheres with captivating contemporary sounds and martyred textures. Trent Reznor continues to redefine sound and in "The Fragile" he takes you to depths of humanity and art never expressed in such a way. "The Fragile" is one of the most important rock records of the 90s and one which is far beyond its time. Nine Inch Nails continue in prolific dignity on a record that will last far into the next century.

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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