Originally published in CMJ on December 1, 1992

Sounds like Trent Reznor has been taking his bitter pills lately. Granted, Pretty Hate Machine was hardly an exercise in benevolence, but the record's harsh electronics were nowhere near as scathingly ravaged as the new Broken EP. The disc contains six songs, but only four are really substantial (the others are mere interludes), yet they all burn with such electra-metallic menace that the 20 or so minutes of sonic agony they provide is more than enough. The EP features Reznor's trademark keyboard blips butchered and buried within a barrage of razor-edged guitars and aggressive drumbeats. The explosive nature of Broken is a direct reflection of Reznor's volatile emotional state, and what better way to represent hostility and paranoia than with distorted guitars and jackhammer percussion. Having grown increasingly disenchanted with relationships, and flat out furious with the corporate music industry, Reznor has used his music to lash out at all the ex-girlfriends, journalists, publicists, groupies and money-grubbing executives he feels have tainted his life. He recorded the EP at several different studios without his record company's knowledge in order to prevent nosey label employees from interfering. The result is an astonishingly cold, brutal and bleak EP. Experience the ecstasy of agony with "Happiness Is Slavery," "Wish" and "Gave Up."

CMJ Music Report

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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