The Fragile

Originally published in The Desert News on October 1, 1999

The Desert News - Salt Lake City, UT - 3 Stars

Nine Inch Nails - along with your brain-and-guts guy Trent Reznor - we sure did miss you.

After five years of virtual silence, we were beginning to wonder if you had, indeed, gotten sucked into that "Downward Spiral." It's good to know you're still alive and vital.

I bet you were a bit surprised your new album, "The Fragile," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart this past week. Then again, I bet you were relieved you left the likes of Barbara Streisand, former Soundgarden lead singer Chris Cornell, country duo Brooks & Dunn and former dating partner Tori Amos behind, right?

Well, you should be. "The Fragile" is one of the more important albums to be released this year. It's just as fresh as your scathing industrial-crank debut, "Pretty Hate Machine," was back in 1989 when a bunch of mediocre, hair-rock bands were slowly falling off the charts.

These past couple of months, the tiresome (and brainless) rambles of Limp Bizkit and the posse-posing nonsense of Kid Rock were the raves of the hard-rock times.

Thank you, NIne Inch Nails, for saving hard music. In fact, maybe you timed it just right. Maybe you knew your fans would be missing you so bad that anything you released would sound good. If that's true, you've outdone yourself.

"The Fragile" is a perfect second act to "Downward Spiral." It's just as haunting, and quite disturbing at times. And then you throw in a few new curves like those songs of empowerment - "We're in This Together," "No, You Don't," "La Mer" and "The Way Out Is Through."

NIN, you seem to have matured. No longer do you appear suicidal. You just seem to want revenge. And the potshots you take at former comrade Marilyn Manson in one of the album's cuts is a wonderful way to reclaim the industrial throne. However, the hard cutting edge found on "Pretty Hate Machine" and "Downward Spiral" has been buffed a bit on this new album. Still, you are true to form when it comes to making music that will touch the dark, damp corners of your disenfranchised listeners' minds. This is the perfect album to listen to in the afterhours of Halloween.

NIN fans are gonna love the doube-CD packaging of "The Fragile" (which carries a deserved parental advisory sticker). And they'll undoubtedly love the album - even if it is more than 100 minutes

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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