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4.22 | 29 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1999


Disc One: Left

1. Somewhat Damaged (4:33)
2. The Day The World Went Away (4:35)
3. The Frail (1:55)
4. The Wretched (5:27)
5. We're In This Together (5:46)
6. The Fragile (3:33)
7. Just Like You Imagined (3:51)
8. Even Deeper (5:49)
9. Pilgrimage (3:33)
10. No, You Don't (3:37)
11. La Mer (4:39)
12. The Great Below (5:17)

Time 52:35

Disc Two Right:

1. The Way Out Is Through (4:17)
2. Into The Void (4:49)
3. Where Is Everybody (5:40)
4. The Mark Has Been Made (4:44)
5. Please (3:31)
6. Starfuckers Inc. (5:00)
7. Complication (2:31)
8. I'm Looking Forward To Joining You (4:12)
9. The Big Come Down (4:13)
10. Underneath It All (2:44)
11. Ripe (With Decay) (6:36)

Time 48:17


- Trent Reznor / vocals, guitars, cello, synthesizers, programming
- Adrian Belew / guitars (tracks 1.7, 1.12, 2.3)
- Heather Bennet / backing vocals
- Clinton Bradley / programming
- Buddha Boys Choir / choir, chorus, chant
- Buddha Debutante choir / backing vocals
- Di Coleman / backing vocals
- Charlie Clouser / programming, atmosphere, synthesizers
- Melissa Daigle / backing vocals
- Paul DeCarli / programming
- Jerome Dillon / drums (track 1.5)
- Mike Garson / piano (tracks 1.7, 2.1, 2.11)
- Page Hamilton / guitars (track 1.10)
- Tracy Hardin / backing vocals
- Keith Hillebrandt / programming, choir, chorus, sound Design
- Danny Lohner / programming, guitar (tracks 1.1, 1.7, 1.12, 2.7)
- Clint Mansell / choir, chorus
- Elquine Rice / backing vocals
- Terry Rice / backing vocals
- Bill Rieflin / drums (track 1.11)
- Barbara Wilson / backing vocals
- Leslie Wilson / backing vocals
- Steve Duda / programming, choir, chorus, percussion, violin
- Eric Edmonson / choir, chorus
- Cherry Holly / trumpet
- Doug Idleman / choir, chorus
- Marcus London / choir, chorus
- Denise Milfort / vocals (track 1.11)
- Judy Miller / backing vocals
- Gary I. Neal / backing vocals
- Matthew Nicholls / backing vocals
- Christine Parrish / backing vocals
- Adam Persaud / choir, chorus
- Martha Prevost / vocals
- M. Gabriela Rivas / backing vocals
- Nick Scott / choir, chorus
- Rodney Sulton / backing vocals
- Stefani Taylor / backing vocals
- Nigel Wiesehan / choir, chorus
- Willie / cello
- Mason Kemmer / violin, donair supplier
- Martha Wood / backing vocals

About this release

Halo 14

September 21, 1999
Nothing, Interscope

Thanks to windhawk, Lynx33, adg211288 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Many NIN fans have high praise for The Fragile, but I honestly have only recently been able to get into it. Lyrically speaking, it very much comes across as a double album version of The Downward Spiral - or rather, of material which might have got onto The Downward Spiral had it received a little more polish. The five years since the last official NIN studio album (if you don't count the excellent soundtrack Trent Reznor made for Quake) seemed to have resulted in no emotional growth on Reznor's part, if the lyrics are anything to judge by, and whilst the Downward Spiral's lyrics managed to be, at their best, cutting and emotionally raw, the lyrics of The Fragile too often tend towards the grumpy and petulant.

It is only comparatively recently that I've been able to get past the embarrassing lyrics to really appreciate the musical accomplishments here. Technically, Reznor had spent the intervening years honing his craft yet further, and it really does show. The Fragile may be the most sonically diverse Nine Inch Nails release ever - why, on Into the Void Reznor even gets a funky little strut going. I should really make a point of investigating The Fragile: Deviations 1, a recent release of instrumental tracks from The Fragile mixed in with rarities from the same era, since it really does seem like the vocals and lyrics have been the main barrier to me enjoying this particular box of musical tricks. Even then, at points I still feel like this is a five-star single album loaded down by two-star filler.
Phonebook Eater
Trent Reznor with his third studio album creates what many consider his masterpiece, "The Fragile", a double album with many new brilliant ideas. Compared to "The Downward Spiral",NIN's real masterpiece, it has a lot more experimentation and with many more progressive elements. That's why many prog fans appreciate this. For me, it is an excellent industrial rock album, with some great songs, alternated with some weird and dark soundscapes.

The lyrics are much more personal than usual, narrating the despair that Reznor had at the time. He in fact was seriously meditating about killing himself the same period that he wrote the album.

Musically, there are some excellent songs, like "Starf***ers Inc.", "Where In This Together", "Into The Void", and the title track. All of these songs are incredibly dark, and they probably can be interpreted as a sort of continuation to "The Downward Spiral"'s uncomfortable bleakness. Some songs though aren't really as fascinating as others, so the album maybe is a little bit too long, and risks to be boring and monotone.

In conclusion, this is for sure an excellent addiction to anyone who likes real music, being very haunting and mysterious in it's distorted despair.

Members reviews

Moments of splendor in an artist's career can be incredibly varied; maybe one album, maybe two, or perhaps even more. For me, the peak of my favorite band's career - that being the main project of founding member Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails - came in the first three studio releases; 1989's "Pretty Hate Machine", 1994's "The Downward Spiral", and finally 1999's "The Fragile".

Following the bleak, isolated self-loathing that came with Nine Inch Nails' magnum opus The Downward Spiral in 1994, The Fragile followed five years later, and returned to the bleak, hopeless atmosphere of it's predecessor - though it's emotions are expressed in a very different way. Much like the majority of Trent Reznor's work, The Fragile follows a storyline; the manic thoughts and expressions of an individual, as well as his significant other, both struggling through the worst and most miserable parts of their lives. The Fragile, while I would not say that it beats The Downward Spiral - which was a completely flawless album in my book - certainly comes close to dethroning it.

In the space of a five year gap, it's obvious just upon listening to this album why it took so long for Trent to finish and release it. Twenty-three tracks, 103 minutes, and a compelling and discernable storyline all require years of effort and work, in addition to it's complex and heavily layered musicianship present on the album. It takes true talent and mastery to create an album as gripping as this, and keep the listener interested for nearly two hours of music, let alone music that is nearly impossible to pinpoint a specific genre to; yes, while Reznor's work is heavily based in industrial rock, The Fragile is one of his most experimental projects to this date; the album has a tendency to fluctuate between bone-crushing, monolithic industrial metal soundscapes, followed off the bat by more ambient or subdued tracks; the first two songs here are a definitive example of this back-to-back combination. After the semi-success of the 1989 dance-influenced "Pretty Hate Machine", albums such as "The Downward Spiral" and "The Fragile" see Nine Inch Nails going for a more mechanical, foreboding industrial era that refuses to retract it's talons until fourteen years later with their 2008 instrumental epic "Ghosts".

Much like The Downward Spiral, The Fragile relies heavily on progressions or segues between tracks (think Pink Floyd) to push the storyline forward in a more convenient and recognizable flow. These transitions are not done poorly; in order to befit the storyline of the album, all of the tracks form together to create a complete and cohesive listening experience, so much that it at times feels like you are listening to an entire 103 minute epic. In terms of superbly executed cohesion, The Fragile is comparable to albums such as Neurosis' "Through Silver in Blood" or Opeth's "Blackwater Park" - strange comparisons, yes, but unarguably in the same flow and vein of The Fragile.

Sound-wise, the album also excells. Unlike the previous two albums, in which their musical categories were much more simple and easy to pinpoint - The Downward Spiral, which was purely industrial, and Pretty Hate Machine which was a twisted spin on synthpop -, The Fragile finds Reznor experimenting with a multitude of various different musical styles. Tracks range from post-rock-esque instrumentals, to hard hitting industrial rock and metal territories, to noise rock and dark ambient, to dance, to glitch music (!), to art rock and soft rock, among others. Despite the consistent erratic changes in the album's musical style, it all manages to fall together almost perfectly in the plot of the album's lyrics and fluctuating mood. Not many can accomplish such a flowing, convenient attitude with so many experimented styles of music, and Trent Reznor proves himself to be one of the chosen few who can achieve and conquer this goal - and with stunning accuracy, no less.

"Somewhat Damaged", the opener, starts off the album with the fairly innocent strum of an acoustic; but as the song progresses, the innocence drops out of existence, and the song encapsulates the same sour, self-loathing clinical misery that was prominent on nearly every song on The Downward Spiral. In the five year gap between The Downward Spiral and The Fragile, it's obvious that Trent's depression didn't get much better, if at all, and the lyrical content, most specifically in the chorus, further validates this claim; "Poisoned to my rotten core/too fucked up to care anymore". Arguably one of the heaviest Nine Inch Nails tracks, the song acts as a beneficial prelude to the rest of the album; and after the explosive build up at the end, segues right into the next track, an example of the more post-rockish, mainly instrumental side of the album.

The shorter songs here are also beneficial and crucial to the progression and development of the album's plotline and overall personality; most notably interludes such as "The Frail", a two minute piano piece that builds up directly into the brooding, painfully depressed ferocity of "The Wretched", and the rotten, decomposing album closer "Ripe (With Decay)", which does the deed of wrapping up the album in a creeping, intense fashion that leaves the ultimate fate of the two main characters shrouded in mystery. Many outsiders will likely cry "filler", though listeners who truly, fully immerse themselves in The Fragile will not be so quick to judge the importance of these songs.

Lyrically, Reznor is the musical equivalent of an author such as J.D. Salinger or even Edgar Allan Poe in terms of composing a discernable, coherent realistic fiction storyline. Many will come to a hit and miss conclusion towards this album's lyrical content; some may be compelled and others may be repulsed by the grim, generally unenthusiastic nature of the lyrical content. However, for an optimistic listener, there are many solaces to be found; tracks such as the seven minute industrial mini-epic "We're in this Together" and the subdued, delicate nature of the title track "The Fragile" introduce an encouraging, empowering determination. Not many Nine Inch Nails songs could be considered "feel good", for obvious reasons, but the two above mentioned tracks could be counted as exceptions.

Albums such as this, along with the even more superior The Downward Spiral, are something to behold in the musical world; it is a rare occasion when an album of such complex and gripping nature are discovered and, let alone, created in the first place. The Fragile is an album that, despite it's generally depressive lyrical content and mood, I see brimming with confidence. Reznor knew this album would take years to complete, and the moment he finished it must have made him feel as though he was at the top of the world; and that nothing could stop him now. Chock full of uniqueness and fantastically executed experimentation, The Fragile is a grandiose musical journey that breaches the sonic horizon line and into nothing short of a masterpiece. Listen to this sonic zenith of industrial music, and immerse yourself in the bleak world of Trent Reznor.

Ratings only

  • Daniel Wallace
  • Anster
  • Alex
  • Xenoflux
  • starlessabstract
  • serenitypaintedeath
  • Bosh66
  • kx1992
  • Earendil
  • Coracin
  • Daniel de Oliveira
  • SrEstaire
  • F611
  • stefanbedna
  • GMS
  • (De)progressive
  • Zargus
  • Colt
  • Metallica999
  • spitf1r3
  • Tigergilles
  • snowman1980
  • Phoenix87
  • Fantacide
  • bertb711
  • Sleeper

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