I have a confession to make: For nearly as long as I’ve been online, I’ve been a huge Nine Inch Nails fan.
Last night was the one Nine Inch Nails event I think I’ll be able to go to in New York City this year; a listening party for the forthcoming album, With Teeth. The party was held at Avalon, which I’d like to note is still the worst-run club in the city. Free management tip: When you say “doors at 8PM”, open the goddamn doors at 8 – especially when it’s pouring and the line is wrapping around the block.
In any case, here’s my review. Notes to keep in mind:
- The sound was turned absurdly high in the club; as such, some tracks came off as more irritating and less nuanced than they might at home. I’ve made notes where I could.
- All of these notes were scribbled on my Sidekick; I’ve tried to clean them up but forgive any awkward wording if you find some.
- There were no obvious chnages in the tracks, nor announcements thereof; I may have applied parts of some songs to others. Ratings will undoubtedly change when I get my hands on the final.
- I did not have the names of the tracks in front of me when I was writing this.
- I rate on a scale of 1-100, ala the MP3 rating tag. 60+ means “This would go on my large general playlist”. 80+ means “This would go on my smaller, specialized playlist.” Under 40 means I didn’t find it listenable.
Right, here we go.
All The Love In The World
About 100 bpm, almost idm-y percussion wirh some bass and piano. Instrumentation is overpowering trents voice, although that may be the balance in the club. It becomes more driving, around 140 bpm; looped vocals and piano/percussion emphasis. Good ending. 65/100
Do You Know What You Are?
Holy shit – PUNCH TO THE FACE drumnbass-ish start, completely unexpected against the soft ending of the last track. 180 bpm, screaming (ala Heresy) refrain. Anyone who considered Broken to be their favorite NIN album will love this, I think. Lots of distortion. Refrain is “Don’t you fucking know what you are?” – I dig. Soft ending again – interesting. 70/100
Strange rhythm (5/4?), ala March Of The Pigs but slower. Punctuated with guitar stabs. Its nice as heavy raw rock, but the odd rhythm makes it a little hard to follow. Probably would be better at a reasonable volume and with repeated listens. 55/100
The Hand That Feeds
By now most of us have heard this on iTunes or the radio, and the fans have seemed split thus far, but I’ve been digging it. Its a bit more accessible than most of his stuff, but the backbone is pure NIN. Going to stick with the rating I have at home (although its more awesome pumped this loud). 80/100
Love Is Not Enough
I’m noticing by this point a distinct lack of soft build intros. This isn’t a bad thing, but I had gotten used to them from Fragile. This one is marked by a hard drum beat and some heavy fuzz guitar on the refrain. Dark and brooding in comparison to THTF, but with a reasonable tempo. Not really standing out though. 50/100
Every Day Is Exactly The Same
Hey, a soft intro! STOP READING MY THOUGHTS TRENT. Nice sort of slow asskicking song. Nice scalar (up the scale, emphasize the high note, down the scale) refrain. Totally loving this. Last refrain comes the hardest, and I’m sold. 83/100
Percussiony start, in comes the guitars, and I’m feeling shades of Eraser or Reptile. I hear “with the teeth-uh”, so I’m going to assume this is the title track. Little faster than the last track, but still what I’d file under “Slow”; I like it alright but the refrain is uninspired. We go to low piano and bass; is this a filler track? Just a long ending? There’s not a lot of sepera — JESUS CHRIST MY EARS. WHY DO YOU TRIPLE THE VOLUME LEVEL. Yes, it’s just a long ending. 50/100 (docked 10 points merely for the pain in my ears with that volume jump), might go up after controlled listening.
What the? New wave? Okay, that falls away with some slap bass. The lyric style is a little rap/Down In It style…not crazy about it. Wait, there’s the new wave again. And swearing. What the shit? “There is no fucking you, there is only me” – really don’t know what to think. Catchy but obtuse. 60/100
This is another one of the singles. Quick, scream-y, hrm. Sort of a “beat down” song, I guess. I dig the intro, but the rest doesn’t really sound like what I consider to be NIN. This sounds much better at home where the speakers aren’t adding to the distortion. Could grow on me, I think. But for now, 45/100.
Slow but driving, almost whispering vocals. Refrain has some hard drum hits, and Trent is doing his falsetto thing. There’s a plucked string during the vocals that’s almost making this sound 80′s-ish (ala Every Breathe You Take), but the refrain keeps kicking the hell out of that. Very enjoyable. 75/100
The Line Begins To Blur
The last single, for those of you who haven’t been following. Really slow, really scream-y, electro-scrape percussion. Refrain has singing in the middle of the music chaos, and I enjoy it much more than the verses. Leaving this at 65/100.
Beside You In Time
Sort of a swirling ether of instruments and beat and some nebulous vocals. With a harder beat this could be a trance song! This is the pulsing track you may have heard in the teaser trailer on nin.com, I think. Despite trent claiming there would be no instrumentals, this is borderline. Still, its solid – I don’t mind instrumentals. 70/100
Right Where It Belongs
Vocals don’t sound like trent, but the piano and guitar does. Very strange track, but oddly appealing. Bass beat finally comes in almost 2 minutes in. Slow build, slow build, slow build. The distortion on the vocals falls away (obviously Trent now) and I think the crowd noise is a part of the track. Awesome track, great closing to the album. 90/100