The darkness of the human soul is really well personified in the early Nine Inch Nails releases. Trent Reznor, the mastermind behind it all was on a musical mission. Although his first album Pretty Hate Machine was a success in its own way, the 1990s really kicked it off for his own band’s namesake with the first of three linked releases: Broken; The Downward Spiral and The Fragile. Each is longer than the last. This is an amazing listen, so let’s jump in and take a listen to this well received EP.
We begin with the instrumental Pinion which is a few simple distorted chords and other ghostly Industrial Music style sounds repeated, gradually increasing in volume. It is very short and only lasts a minute long.
The next piece is Wish which begins with eerie sounds and banging drum beats, before going into a melodramatic piece that sounds incredibly infectious and awesome from the start. The chorus is amazing and very noisy, with loud grungy guitars. It has rolling drumbeats, excellent electronic textures and a loud and raw feel to it. It also sounds incredibly aggressive as well, a lot like Punk music does. It goes into a really dark and disturbing, and rather eerie musical listening experience. A super punchy and really intense listen from start to finish, this is really amazing. A sound for those who like dark and heavy. It gets very loud and frenetic towards the end, before segueing into the next song.
Last begins with a huge, loud and really fantastic riff that is incredible. The lyrics match the sound, going to and fro into a hugely sexually motivated interlude, before returning to the riff mania. Although the subject matter and listening experience are very depressing, this is a wonderful listen to experience in other areas. “This isn’t meant to last, this is for right now!” is chanted throughout. Some impressive electronics are here too, with some cool backwards bits to match. This is likely the best song from this EP, and is really fantastic to hear from start to finish. Towards the end, the repeated heavy guitar riff re-enters and we have an amazing finale with cries from Trent Reznor for self-destruction. Amazing stuff, very very good.
Help Me I Am In Hell is a short two minute instrumental that continues the morbidity and darkness theme that is throughout this EP. Some muted guitar parts and interesting electronics are here. Nobody does dark quite like Trent Reznor, and this is no exception. Great to hear, it has some subdued rushing sounds to finish, before launching straight into the next song.
Next is Happiness In Slavery which begins with some interesting lyrics and sounds that are dark and electronic. An incredible sound and listening experience, especially if you like dark and morbid themes in your music. There are chugging guitars that are almost psychedelic admittedly, but the intent here is completely different. A really amazing and interesting listen if you dig the Hieronymus Bosch sort of experience, on the dark side of things of course. It goes into a really interesting midsection that is awesome and different with some cool drum sounds, before launching back into the main song. Loud, raw and nasty, this is the human soul with all its flaws intact throughout. A brilliant tune, with some freaky screaming towards the end. A brilliant effort for a five minute long song, and totally fitting in with the concept of being Broken to pieces. Excellent listening. It ends with some excellent whispering about the human condition of being enslaved.
After that is Gave Up which begins with some freaky sounds, before some pacing drum beats enter. Trent Reznor’s voice enters singing about pain, misery and suffering which is extraordinary. This is an amazing tune in some ways, although probably not the best song on this EP. It is a precursor to The Downward Spiral and its glorious ways. “I tried…I gave up” is about as miserable as it gets lyrically, but is equally matched by a gloriously loud sound that is pretty incredible. Towards the end, it breaks into a really self-destructive sounding outro that is awesome. Nice.
Physical (You’re So) is actually a cover of a song by Adam Ant, which was originally the first of two hidden tracks here. It begins with a load of loud feedback that is really good, before Trent Reznor adopts his most sexual side out there and this track gets underway. The lyrical matter here is so freaking dirty that it sounds as though Trent Reznor wants to woo every woman out there in earshot. The sonic experience here is really amazing and wonderful, however. This track in particular sounds aggressive in a musical way, but is really spot on in delivery. Like you noticed this was a cover, it sounds truly amazing. A glorious and interesting tune to hear, this is the dark side of male lust right here. Towards the end, it sounds very Black Sabbath like with the guitar work. It ends with some perfect whispering by Trent Reznor on the microphone over a fade out of fed-back guitars.
Suck is the second hidden track and the last track on this EP. It begins with a cyber electronic riff, some electronic drumbeats and a cool sense of rhythm. Some funky bass guitar and Trent Reznor singing enter, and this piece gets underway. The chorus comes crashing in, and we have another excellent song to hear by the master of the dark side of the force. More sexual content is here, but it is in amongst self-destructive and morbid lyricism as well. There is a midsection here with whispering lyrics by Trent Reznor lusting away, before it goes into a loud and expressive crashing finale. Excellent music, and something to make us feel very human, warts and all. It goes back into the sounds in the intro to finish up this song, a great EP to listen to. It finishes off with some more whispered lyrics here, a great listen.
This is an extraordinary listen for those who like it dark, nasty, self-destructive and mortal, with a bit of a sexual vibe added into it. If you ever feel like you want to see the dark side of humanity in a short listen, this EP is perfect for you. Crank it up and blast the neighbours eardrums out if you dare.
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