NAILING A STUNNER
Originally published in Advertiser Magazine on October 1, 1999
NOTHING to do on the weekend? Go and buy a heap of extra speakers, hook them up to your stereo, sit in a darkened room, crank this double album and go on an amazing journey. It's been a long wait for the follow-up to 1994's Downward Spiral and the style of NIN has remained basically the same. It stays gothic and most lyrics read like a suicide note or hate mail. Take No You Don't: "smiling in their faces/while filling up the hole/so many dirty little places/in your filthy worn out/broken down see through soul". Trent Reznor's one angry lad but his anger translates to power when played up loud. Reznor's ability to build songs to terrifying crescendos is illustrated in stunning fashion on the opening track, Somewhat Damaged. Beginning with a single guitar, it ends in a cacophony of violent lyrics and battling instruments. What works about this double CD (one labelled "left" and one labelled "right") is it doesn't always go for screaming vocals and thumping drums. Quite often, you'll float away on a gentle, yet disturbing piano solo or be knocked flat by a burst of industrial guitar following a long silence. There is no break between songs, either, with the 23 tracks running into one another. It can be an exhausting yet epic listen, one that requires time to rot its way into your musical soul... and once it's there, it won't let you go.
Transcribed by Keith Duemling