Right back into the Industrial pit! And this time we have one of my all-time favorite bands ever, one accredited to popularizing the Industrial music scene— Nine Inch Nails (NIN)! I briefly mentioned Trent Reznor, the band's founder and only constant member (until recently), in my Filter and How to Destroy Angels posts. In the latter I feature the band he and his wife, Mariqueen Maandig, formed. And I'll likely talk about him again down the road in this challenge.
There are many songs I want to feature, so cutting my choices down to four is going to be a real pain. I'll likely regret excluding certain ones, but I'll have opportunities to highlight more of their work, like through my Soundtrack of Imagination series. I'll start with a song I love from NIN's debut full-length album, Pretty Hate Machine, titled "Something I Can Never Have":
That's a stripped down version of the original song from Still, which was released as part of a double album, And All That Could Have Been, the other CD being their live performance from their Fragility v2.0 US tour. Still featured other previously released songs executed in the same style, as well new material. Given my strong dislike for listening to anything live while not actually being there hearing it live, I never bought the double album.
This is surprising being I bought pretty much any Nine Inch Nails CD that I could. Trent Reznor marked each release with a "Halo" number. This included all EPs/singles/Live acts/etc. Pretty Hate Machine was Halo 2, The Downward Spiral was Halo 8, and so on and so on. It always gave me a strong "collect them all" desire.
Speaking of The Downward Spiral, its release is likely the one most fans (and non-fans alike) are most familiar with from the early years of NIN. I can't help but to share "Hurt":
There's an amazing cover of "Hurt" by Johnny Cash and if you haven't heard it yet, I highly recommend it! There are a few choice lyric alterations made by Cash, but it's so powerful that even Trent Reznor himself said that he felt like the song was no longer his.
While there may be some profound and touching moments associated with the album that launched Nine Inch Nails into the spotlight, The Downward Spiral and the band were also shrouded in the same controversy as KMFDM and Marilyn Manson, accused of being highly influential to those involved in specific tragic events. NIN continued to produce music and eventually that stigma faded (albeit lightly interfering with business endeavors periodically).
Let's skip ahead a decade and over two releases (The Fragile, With Teeth), as much as it pains me, and take a listen to "The Great Destroyer" from Year Zero:
Apparently the controversy surrounding their earlier releases didn't stop Reznor from continuing with lyrics and themes that could potentially be misconstrued as a negative influence. Year Zero itself is a concept album and even had an entire game centered around it. Being a gamer myself I'm pretty ashamed to say I've never looked into it at all.
Year Zero isn't the only experimental release Trent has put out (though, honestly, I feel he's rarely strayed from experimentation with his music). Both independently produced albums Ghosts I-IV and The Slip were digital releases, the first being 36 tracks and almost completely instrumental (followed by fan involvement via YouTube to visually interpret the songs).
Their 2013 release, Hesitation Marks (Halo 28), came out after a short hiatus and was the first album I wasn't instantly sold on. I had heard the first single "Came Back Haunted", I believe it was, and just wasn't feeling it, despite really liking the simplistic music video:
I still instantly added the album to my NIN playlist on Spotify when it became available and was easily able to identify when one of the tracks from the record would come up. Eventually Hesitation Marks grew on me, even "Came Back Haunted", some of the songs playing very significant roles in my creative process, much like their older work.
Trent has done a lot of solo work, collaborations, side projects/bands, and even has a newer NIN EP that released last year, which I still have to check out. As I hinted at above, I'm hoping to squeeze some more into the A to Z Challenge, but if not, highlight them elsewhere on the site!
Did you enjoy the songs/videos? Are you familiar with Nine Inch Nails? Do you have a favorite song and/or album? Have you ever seen them live? If so, how was the performance? What band do you find to be highly influential to you in a positive manner?