NIN brings back an old sound with a new twist

Graham C. Wheat, Editor in Chief

The many incarnations of Trent Reznor have taken many forms over the past 15 years. We have seen him grow from angsty 90’s industrial rock as Nine Inch Nails (NIN), seemingly country songwriter for Johnny Cash with “Hurt,” to full fledged musical score composer for the successful movie “The Social Network.”

With his latest album as NIN titled “Hesitation Marks,” Reznor has somehow found his old niche, while simultaneously becoming more of the artist he truly is.

While the overall feel of the album resonates with his signature industrial electronic sound, complete with riff laden guitar tracks, the tormented introvert seems to be all but absent from this album. Yes, there are still songs that decode into rants about his own personal suffering like “In Two,” those songs seem to have graduated into a more focused catharsis.

More refreshing is the content of songs such as “Copy of A.” Reznor turns his unique perspective to the current disposable culture of our society. With lyrics like, “Everything I have said, has been said before,” he clearly makes a statement about his own presence in the musical world, while still capturing the essence of our modern culture. His growth as an artist is not to create something brash and new, but rather solidify his place as an artist, commenting and reflecting society with his own lens.

As his lyrical content has elevated to more than introspective thought, his composition of music has also seemingly risen to the occasion.

The begging of the song “Satellite” sounds like it could be found in a “dub-step” oriented club, yet it is inescapably NIN. Reznor’s hushed voice leads listeners deeper into the song and you soon find the crunching guitars and dark spacey effects that categorize much of NIN’s music. Not to mention the song is about the prevailing big-brother culture we live in.  This is yet another lyrical example of Reznor examining today’s society through the art of music.

It was sometimes hard pinpoint the almost dub-step qualities of some of the beats. But as Reznor does, he shows us that the current generation of electronic music can be quality and worthwhile, if the artist is indeed invested in the product.

So, after a few years of Reznor flexing his creative muscle in other areas, he makes a triumphant return as Nine Inch Nails.  Once again he has created a blueprint for ethereal, heavy, dark, electronic music.


4 out of 5 stars.