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NINE INCH NAILS - Broken cover
4.30 | 16 ratings | 5 reviews
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EP · 1992


1. Pinion (1:02)
2. Wish (3:46)
3. Last (4:44)
4. Help Me I Am In Hell (1:56)
5. Happiness In Slavery (5:21)
6. Gave Up (4:08)
7. Physical (Adam and the Ants cover) (5:29)
8. Suck (Pigface cover) (5:07)

Total Time 31:35


- Trent Reznor / vocals, all instruments
- Martin Atkins / drums (track 2)
- Chris Vrenna / drums (track 6)
- Marilyn Manson / guitars, vocals (track 6)

About this release

Halo 5

September 22, 1992
Nothing, TVT, Interscope

Thanks to windhawk, UMUR, Lynx33, Unitron, aglasshouse for the updates


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Divorce can be a funny thing. Back in the 90’s, I was married to a woman who was into dance pop and Celtic folk music and I was into metal, hard rock, and alternative. The Celtic folk was nice but I could not be thrilled about dance pop. As our divorce proceedings were coming to an end, we met up just to discuss a few minor things. She told me she had gotten into Nine Inch Nails. What a coincidence since I had recently discovered them for myself. She liked NIN for the dance-like beats and aggression and I liked them for the heavy stuff and aggression. Probably we didn’t like the same albums or songs though.

“Broken” was my third and final NIN purchase. It sounded very different from what I had heard on “The Downward Spiral” and “Further Down the Spiral” but it was still obviously Nine Inch Nails. Around that time, there was a video for “Pinion” that I saw on Much Music (Canada’s music station). In the video, the camera followed a series of pipes running across the ceiling and down walls, through floors, in some building and the final scene brought us to a person tied up in black leather with the pipe terminating in his mouth and water spewing from his mouth out the sides. It’s just a short track and an instrumental at that. The volume slowly rises with a creepy chord sequence that repeats as effects come in. Then it abruptly ends as “Wish” begins with its quick percussion and heavy guitar. “Last” was and still is my favourite song on this album. The guitar riffs sound really like Black Sabbath to me, and Trent Reznor delivers his trademark paranoid/maniacal/obsessive style of vocals.

I hadn’t listened to the album for a long time but a few weeks ago I watched the Lock Horns (on YouTube) episode about early industrial metal albums and this one was mentioned, so I dug it out and put the disc into iTunes and on my phone. It’s better than I remembered. Now I find most of the album captures my attention. The production is clear, warm, and loud but not in the red. There is an excellent balance between heavy guitar rock band and electronic band. Some songs feature some great riffs that caught my ear while I was walking and listening, tracks like “Happiness is Slavery” and “Suck”. There’s enough variety on this album to keep it interesting, though “Help Me I Am In Hell” is another short instrumental that is simple and a little repetitive.

One comment to make here is about the two hidden tracks, “Physical (You’re So)” and “Suck”. A lot of hidden track albums will put the hidden track on as part of the final track with an intervening empty gap that can be anywhere from a couple of minutes to over ten minutes. I really despise those long pointless gaps of blankety-blank-blankness. However, on “Broken” all the empty space is filled with something like 91 1-second-long blank tracks. Why is this good? Because when putting the CD into an iTunes library, you can unselect all the blank tracks and save only the tracks with music. My iTunes folder now has only 8 music files for this album instead of eight plus 91-something blank tracks. Good thinking, guys! A huge blank gap in between two tracks that make up only one track on the CD is really the pits!

All in all, a very good bit of industrial metal. It's not every track that's a killer but there's a lot of great stuff here! On Lock Horns, by the way, the album made the list of ten essential early industrial metal albums.
In the late 80's, Trent Reznor originally envisioned a band that made subtle social commentary which was conveyed via. industrial rock. Thus, Pretty Hate Machine was released in 1989 to average popularity. However, Reznor himself believed that he had overdone it, and implied too much shameless self pity. Feeling that his point was ruined from the release, he planned another release and gave the public the EP Broken a few years later.

Trent, my god, good job with this one. Taking a metal edge instead of the indulgent mainstream industrial rock that the antecedent release was full of, this EP evolves not only the Industrial metal scene but also the band's structure. If I were to say, my favorite industrial metal band has always been Stabbing Westward. However, after finding and buying this little gem at a thrift store, I decided that Nine Inch Nails had thoroughly earned my respect as a whole.

The album ranges from flat out slamming metal to more complex, albeit stranger songs. The future Nine Inch Nails sound is still there, but if you are interested in such a raw version of this band then this would be definitely something for you. 'Wish' is a simple little tune, undoubtedly the most recognized from it, which follows a quick tempo as well as sudden bursts of angry static-style riffing. 'Last' is an absolute slammer, with giant hunky metallic riffs making for a pure ball of anger hitting you over and over. Simply excellent, and perhaps my personal favorite from the album. 'Help Me I'm In Hell' is an interesting bridge to 'Happiness in Slavery', another scream-filled song which Reznor pours his soul into. 'Gave Up' is more of an fast, alternative hard rock song with fewer industrial elements than the others. However, Reznor's voice has been modified which sounds like he's speaking into a fan. However, it does add some more feeling to the song.

Now, 'Gave Up' is perhaps where we would end, for the rest of the EP is simple blank space. But no, hidden at the end are two covers of two different bands. The first being 'Physical (You're So)', a cover of the post-punk band Adam and the Ants, is actually quite enjoyable. The band souped up the original to add more metal as well as more electronic influences and sounds. The second is 'Suck', a cover of the industrial rock band Pigface. It isn't as enjoyable as the former but it's still okay. I would call it more undoubtedly hard-rockish than metallic. Nice casual listen, though.

So, in the end, NiN's Broken is a fantastic EP. I would go so far as to say that this little gem is what undoubtedly got the band rolling. I suggest if you are any particular metal fan or even a fan of the band, get it, it'll be worth it.
"Broken" is an EP release by US industrial rock/metal act Nine Inch Nails. The EP was released through Nothing/TVT Records in September 1992. Considering the grand commercial success of the debut album "Pretty Hate Machine (1989)", it´s thought provoking that it took Trent Reznor 3 years before he was ready to release "Broken". There were various reasons for the long recording break though. First of all Nine Inch Nails had spend time touring in support of the debut album, but the most significant reason was probably that Trent Reznor had a feud with TVT Records, who according to him, pressured him into writing an album in a similar style to the debut, which he refused. Trent Reznor vision to inject his industrial rock with a shot of metal didn´t exactly please TVT Records. After a long legal battle the two parties reached a deal though and Trent Reznor was released from his record deal with TVT Records, but only after the release of "Broken". He would subsequently sign a deal with Interscope Records.

The music on the 99 track EP is industrial rock/metal. out of the 99 tracks only 8 are "real" songs while the remaining tracks are 0:01 minute tracks of silence. It´s a formula that wasn´t uncommon in the early- to mid nineties, where artists sought to explore the CD medium to it´s full. While it may have been something new and exciting in 1992 that a band would chose to do such a thing, today it´s just plain annoying that we get 6 tracks and then a bunch of silent tracks before the last 2 tracks kick in. With that said the quality of the "real" tracks on the album is high throughout. Angsty/angry industrial rock/metal packed in a powerful and impressive sound production, featuring layers of sounds, samples, vocals and instruments. Most tracks are quite catchy and I can see why a track like "Wish" ended up winning the 1993 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. In 1992 this sounded fresh, energetic and inspired but that´s actually also the case today. "Broken" doesn´t sound dated at all and that´s a bit surprising but also a testimony to the high quality of the sound production! A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is warranted.
Broken is perhaps my favourite early Nine Inch Nails release; a short and to the point EP built around expressing the apocalyptic anger Trent Reznor was feeling at the time towards his former record company (and the world in general). Whilst the emotional stance of other NIN works tended towards the mopey and self-pitying - and, at points, didn't really seem sincere - Broken takes the vocabulary of industrial metal and uses it to create intense, impassioned invective which gets my blood racing every time I listen to it. Taking the NIN project firmly into the arena of metal and away from its synthesiser-flooded beginnings, Broken is a real treat.

Members reviews

This release gets 4 1/2 out of 5 stars as one of the best in Trent Reznor's sizable discography. It's unusual to say that about this amount of music. However, its conciseness is its strongest selling point. NIN's next effort, "The Downward Spiral", is brilliant. However, over an hour's worth of angst can be draining.

"Broken" is definitely more aggressive than "Pretty Hate Machine". In my mind, that's a very good thing. At almost 30 minutes, "Broken" succeeds very well emotionally IMO. Favorite tracks are "Wish", "Help Me I Am In Hell', and "Happiness in Slavery" . However, everything here is worth listening to.

I've always thought that it was strange/funny that Trent was covering an Adam Ant song, of all things. However, injecting "Physical" with his own intensity in a typical NINE INCH NAILS arrangement works. I think the song points to what makes NIN's work successful; it's so musical. For all the rage in Trent's music, he can write strong melodies and lyrics. That's why "Broken" is NIN at their almost best, if not best.

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