For Fans Of
When Trent Reznor announced a Nine Inch Nails hiatus in 2009, there were plenty of hearts that stopped beating. A world without NIN? No thank you. Luckily the gap didn’t feel like much of a gap. Reznor stuck around, producing an award winning soundtrack, ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ and working on his amazing side project How To Destroy Angels, which is essentially NIN with female vocals.
Earlier this year Reznor announced that he had very sneakily been working on the eighth NIN album eventually revealing it as ‘Hesitation Marks.’ Many fans began to salivate upon the reveal of the artwork, which had some very similar themes to the band’s seminal 1994 release ‘The Downward Spiral,’ notably a well documented dark time in Reznor‘s life, and arguably some of his best work. So why would Reznor, now a happily married and successful artist, want to return to such a dark period?
The record explains this as a means of self-discovery, knowing who you are currently by acknowledging where you have been. This mix of old and new is not only perfectly blended on ‘Hesitation Marks,’ it makes up the very fabric of the record.
The short introduction track ‘The Eater Of Dreams’ scratches the itch, the electronic blips, low bass tones and distorted vocals bring things right back into the dark world of Nine Inch Nails. It’s like they never left. This is immediately offset by the bubbly synth sounds of first full track ‘Copy Of A’, an up-beat stomper that houses Reznor‘s melancholy melodies perfectly, conjuring a sound reminiscent of the ‘With Teeth’ era.
The first single, ‘Came Back Haunted’, has ‘Downward Spiral‘ written all over it, a sneer appears in the vocals, things darken, but also progress, the energy levels continue to rise in a seamless transition from the opening of the album. This energy disappears immediately for the stutter beat of ‘Find My Way’, a sparse track that is carried by the simple yet catchy vocal lines and uniquely NIN programming, making this one of the record standouts.
Just like the Spiral, this record is an extremely cohesive listen, almost as if track names and numbers should be ignored. Things change up drastically on ‘All Time Low’, a song that is pure funk, NIN-funk, a complete turnaround on the darkness that precedes it yet still fitting. The beats in the mid section of the record suggest something a little more positive. They are energetic, danceable, groove heavy thanks to the classic distorted bass sound that is the backbone of this band, songs like ‘Satellite’ are the NIN equivalent of a club banger, even the vocal harmonies join in on the fun.
Reznor shows plenty of moments of disdain lyrically towards something but, on the whole, keeps the cards pretty close to his chest. This is the main deviation from the sister themes of the Spiral, the door into Reznor‘s mindset is only slightly cracked open this time instead of being removed from its hinges and left laying on the floor.
The record closes with ‘Black Noise’, an instrumental very similar to the ‘Ghosts’ collection and a good bookend to the opener, rounding out another amazing piece of work from Nine Inch Nails.
If Nine Inch Nails needed to apologise to their fans for scaring them half to death with a hiatus, ‘Hesitation Marks’ is the best apology ever. As with most NIN records, it is one solid piece of work. Cohesive, dynamic, and a perfect summation of everything this band has ever been, with some new colours added to the palette. A strong contender for album of the year.
1. The Eater of Dreams
2. Copy of A
3. Came Back Haunted
4. Find My Way
5. All Time Low
9. Various Methods of Escape
11. I Would for You
12. In Two
13. While I’m Still Here
14. Black Noise