Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral

Nine Inch NailsThe Downward Spiral is probably one of the most influential albums of the last 20 years. It’s combination of electronics and heavy metal wasn’t’ new at the time (check out Ministry, and especially their gonzo track “Jesus Built My Hot Rod), but the sleek, polished sound and it’s nihilistic themes went onto popularise the nu-metal scene at the end of the 90’s. Even better than that, the Downward Spiral still sounds fresh and especially as it’s now been remastered and pressed into a Super-Audio CD and mixed for 5.1 surround sound. Now all I need is something that will play the disc.

But even on an i-pod the production is crystal clear and effective. The Downward spiral is suffused with ambient electronics and disembodied voices that give the songs greater depth than a “traditional” instrumental group. The bleakness of singer/producer Trent Reznor is perfectly captured on these songs, which vary between hateful dirges and sexualised self loathing. The album is well known for two songs primarily, the oozing sounds of “Closer” and the quiet desperation of “Hurt” which would be covered to great effect by Johnny Cash (so well that Reznor claimed the song was no longer his own).

The rest of the songs on this two disc set are made up from demos, remixes and rare tracks, most of which are culled from soundtracks. The pulsating “Burn” (from Natural Born Killers) and the cover of Joy Division’s “Dead Souls” (from the Crow) are the pick of the bunch. The demos are an odd proposition as they’re mainly electronic and as such sound pretty good, not your usual badly recorded 4-track, scratchy demo. It’s been claimed in the music press that it’s taken Trent Reznor more than ten years to record a follow up that lives up to this album (2007’s Year Zero is apparently pretty good) is testament to how good this really is.

Nine Inch Nails – Closer (definitely not safe for work):

Bonus vid, Kirk and Spock get Closer:

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