Nine Inch Nails at the Brixton Academy, London - Dec 8-14 1999

By Julie Glassman for Melody Maker Magazine on December 1, 1999

(4.4 stars out of 5)

There's no one who uses the word "f***" quite like Trent Reznor. His "f***" has a stabbing ring you just can't ignore. And, unlike the metal fraternity, he uses it selectively ? so from the embittered "Where the f*** were you?" ("Somewhat Damaged") to the on-all-fours, debauched "I want to f*** you like an animal" (the best chat-up line known to rock, from "Closer"), this four-letter expletive signifies so much more.

You see, Reznor is a law unto himself. He barely speaks between songs. For any other band, this would be deemed unforgivably apathetic. But Reznor has the mystique of a dark angel, a presence that permeates every awe-filled onlooker.

Indeed, NIN not only have the power to seduce with their heartbeat rhythms, but, within minutes, they're ripping out your very soul with their orgy of guitars. They embody the point where pleasure and pain collide, exemplified in "Sin" and "March Of The Pigs", where your stomach encases itself in your pelvic cartilage.

Although despair is a common NIN theme, it should not be construed as superficial, self-indulgent angst on a post-industrial platter. They may possess the dark synth-woven guitar textures associated with "industrial", but Reznor writes proper melodic songs with lyrics uncovering genuine human pain (check the dark poetry of "Reptile" ? "Angels bleed from the tainted touch of my caress").

After the rippling, filmic "La Mer", classics such as "Wish" and "Head Like A Hole", and vicious "Starf***ers, Inc", the grinding tones of "Closer" dissolve Barry White's complete repertoire into a pool of stagnant goo. Reznor closes on "Hurt", a ballad of soul-bearing proportions, an we air-clap along, as Reznor doubles up, clinging to his own personal torment.

Extreme anguish never sounded so good.

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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