Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks
Industrial Rock Is this album any good? I pre-ordered it on vinyl before I had a chance to find out; because if it has NIN stamped on it then I want it for my collection. Perhaps that says something about the high regard that I have for Mr Reznor and Co. So please keep that in mind as we go deeper down the spiral and into the throbbing guts of this release.

The album itself came out of nowhere, having been recorded in secret. In many ways that may have been a prudent move for the band, diminishing the chance that people would build up expectations that would be shattered if the band happened to move in an unexpected direction.

And they have done just that.

The album is a sprawling work of minimalism that occasionally erupts with the sort of euphoric chaos that originally made NIN famous. I wouldn't hesitate to say that the actual production on this record is the best it's ever been. In fact, the drums are so crisp that many will wonder where all of the distortion pedals have been hidden away.

After a very short intro we're straight into "Copy of a", a track that has really grown on me. It's got everything that gave life to the 'Fragile' era NIN sound; wild dynamics, trembling distorted guitars, soaring crescendos and vocals that just seem to cut through it all effortlessly. The synths are simple, but crackle with a raw analog edge.

The album's single was released to what seemed at the time like a lukewarm response. Many people, including myself, were caught between the excitement of the album announcement, and the momentary doubt as we actually listened to the single. "Came Back Haunted" is the kind of track that gets into your head though, the sheer weight of the chorus seems to grow larger every time I listen to it, and the distorted guitar runs are classic NIN fare. Just like the rest of the album, it's never going to hit the clubs with the force of 'The Downward Spiral', but of course nobody was expecting it to.

"Find My Way" is a slowed down atmospheric work, with haunted vocals drifting across the void that expands behind Reznor's echoing vocals. The style reminds me of the brooding aesthetic of the track 'The Great Below', but this time with a piano glistening among the mangled synthetic elements.

As much as I am a huge admirer of Adrian Belew's guitar work, "All Time Low" is far too funky for my tastes. The track 'Disappointed' is an enigma. The bulk of it is a dreary minimalist track in which nothing much goes in, save for a few repetitive beats and some predictable guitars. But then, nestled amidst this seeming mediocrity, is the greatest moment of the album, a stunning guitar led twist that suddenly brings raw emotional life where it's least expected.

Side A of the second LP brings more disappointment - it's a wasteland of extremely well recorded drivel. Boring. This encompasses a couple of tracks that were produced solely by Reznor himself, so it's unlikely that I'm ever going to get my now rare vinyl copy of 'The Fragile' signed... Oh well, there's better on this album. From here on out to the end, the boundaries are probably pushed the most. In some ways I think that the best tracks may have been perversely saved for the end.

Among these my pick is "In Two", a lesson in razor sharp sound design. It's a hellride of a track, from high voltage sequenced beats through to a mangled throbbing breakdown. When the meat of the track blows up, it's an explosion of guitar led energy that reminds you of what these guys are capable of unleashing.

All in all I have mixed feelings about this album. It has its moments, to be sure. Great moments. But at the end of the day, the bulk of it seems to be little more than an empty shell brushed over with a glimmering sheen of sonic wizardry.
4
Brutal Resonance

Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks

Is this album any good? I pre-ordered it on vinyl before I had a chance to find out; because if it has NIN stamped on it then I want it for my collection. Perhaps that says something about the high regard that I have for Mr Reznor and Co. So please keep that in mind as we go deeper down the spiral and into the throbbing guts of this release.

The album itself came out of nowhere, having been recorded in secret. In many ways that may have been a prudent move for the band, diminishing the chance that people would build up expectations that would be shattered if the band happened to move in an unexpected direction.

And they have done just that.

The album is a sprawling work of minimalism that occasionally erupts with the sort of euphoric chaos that originally made NIN famous. I wouldn't hesitate to say that the actual production on this record is the best it's ever been. In fact, the drums are so crisp that many will wonder where all of the distortion pedals have been hidden away.

After a very short intro we're straight into "Copy of a", a track that has really grown on me. It's got everything that gave life to the 'Fragile' era NIN sound; wild dynamics, trembling distorted guitars, soaring crescendos and vocals that just seem to cut through it all effortlessly. The synths are simple, but crackle with a raw analog edge.

The album's single was released to what seemed at the time like a lukewarm response. Many people, including myself, were caught between the excitement of the album announcement, and the momentary doubt as we actually listened to the single. "Came Back Haunted" is the kind of track that gets into your head though, the sheer weight of the chorus seems to grow larger every time I listen to it, and the distorted guitar runs are classic NIN fare. Just like the rest of the album, it's never going to hit the clubs with the force of 'The Downward Spiral', but of course nobody was expecting it to.

"Find My Way" is a slowed down atmospheric work, with haunted vocals drifting across the void that expands behind Reznor's echoing vocals. The style reminds me of the brooding aesthetic of the track 'The Great Below', but this time with a piano glistening among the mangled synthetic elements.

As much as I am a huge admirer of Adrian Belew's guitar work, "All Time Low" is far too funky for my tastes. The track 'Disappointed' is an enigma. The bulk of it is a dreary minimalist track in which nothing much goes in, save for a few repetitive beats and some predictable guitars. But then, nestled amidst this seeming mediocrity, is the greatest moment of the album, a stunning guitar led twist that suddenly brings raw emotional life where it's least expected.

Side A of the second LP brings more disappointment - it's a wasteland of extremely well recorded drivel. Boring. This encompasses a couple of tracks that were produced solely by Reznor himself, so it's unlikely that I'm ever going to get my now rare vinyl copy of 'The Fragile' signed... Oh well, there's better on this album. From here on out to the end, the boundaries are probably pushed the most. In some ways I think that the best tracks may have been perversely saved for the end.

Among these my pick is "In Two", a lesson in razor sharp sound design. It's a hellride of a track, from high voltage sequenced beats through to a mangled throbbing breakdown. When the meat of the track blows up, it's an explosion of guitar led energy that reminds you of what these guys are capable of unleashing.

All in all I have mixed feelings about this album. It has its moments, to be sure. Great moments. But at the end of the day, the bulk of it seems to be little more than an empty shell brushed over with a glimmering sheen of sonic wizardry. Nov 25 2013

Julian Nichols

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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