NINE INCH NAILS — The Downward Spiral

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NINE INCH NAILS - The Downward Spiral cover
4.20 | 43 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1994

Tracklist

1. Mr. Self Destruct (4:30)
2. Piggy (4:24)
3. Heresy (3:54)
4. March Of The Pigs (2:58)
5. Closer (6:13)
6. Ruiner (4:58)
7. The Becoming (5:31)
8. I Do Not Want This (5:41)
9. Big Man With A Gun (1:36)
10. A Warm Place (3:22)
11. Eraser (4:53)
12. Reptile (6:52)
13. The Downward Spiral (3:56)
14. Hurt (6:14)

Total Time 65:08

Line-up/Musicians

- Trent Reznor / vocals, various instruments
- Adrian Belew / guitars
- Danny Lohner / guitars
- Andy Kubiszewski / drums
- Chris Vrenna / drums, programming, sampling
- Stephen Perkins / drum loops
- Charlie Clouser / programming

About this release

Halo 8

March 8, 1994
Nothing, Interscope.

Reissued as Deluxe Edition (Halo 8 DE) with the bonus disc with the following tracklist:

1. Burn (from Natural Born Killers) (5:00)
2. Closer (Precursor) (from Closer To God) (7:16)
3. Piggy (Nothing Can Stop Me Now) (from Further Down The Spiral) (4:03)
4. A Violet Fluid (from March Of The Pigs) (1:04)
5. Dead Souls (from The Crow) (4:53)
6. Hurt (Quiet) (from Further Down The Spiral US version) (5:08)
7. Closer to God (from Closer To God) (5:06)
8. All the Pigs, All Lined Up (from March Of The Pigs) (7:26)
9. Memorabilia (from Closer To God) (7:22)
10. The Downward Spiral (The Bottom) (from Further Down The Spiral) (7:32)
11. Ruiner (demo) (4:51
12. Liar (Reptile demo) (6:57
13. Heresy (demo) (4:00

Total Time 70:38

Thanks to windhawk, Lynx33, adg211288 for the updates

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NINE INCH NAILS THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Warthur
The sheer rage and anger which drove Reznor through the Broken EP gutters out into depressed self-loathing on The Downward Spiral. Lyrically speaking, the album consists half of the sort of statements which really cut to the heart of the experience of depression, and half of the sort of embarrassing tripe depressed people try to distance themselves from once they're out of their low. Musically, there are a number of strong tracks here - I particularly like Mr Self Destruct and A Warm Place - but Reznor's gear shift into a more metal-focused sound which by now has purged most of the dance music influences of the first two releases resulted in a lot of the album feeling like filler to me at first.

Fact is, Reznor protegee Marilyn Manson had already done the shock rock Middle America-baiting pop-industrial metal thing much better, and so tracks like Heresy and Closer don't seem transgressive to me such as petulant. That said, the second half of the album is substantially more interesting, once the initial rage peters out. (The pacing is particularly helped on the Japanese edition, which slots a cover of Joy Division's Dead Souls originally recorded for the Crow soundtrack in between Big Man With a Gun and A Warm Place - and it actually works quite well there.) And even the material earlier in the album has grown on me as we've gained distance from the early 1990s; certainly, if you want to encapsulate the "edgy goth" side of the 1990s, this album would be up there on your list.

I still consider Broken to be a far superior expression of essentially the same feelings, but at the same time I have begun to increasingly appreciate the greater technical capabilities Reznor displays here. There's a five-star EP in here weighed down with less helpful material or clumsy vocals here and there, but it still adds up to a four star album once you warm to it.
Conor Fynes
'The Downward Spiral' - Nine Inch Nails (8/10)

Using a hefty dose of anger and disillusionment to his benefit, Trent Reznor has hereby created one of the most unique and disturbing albums I've ever listened to. To anyone that isn't familiar with the term 'industrial' in the musical sense, it will be a bit difficult to explain how this music exactly sounds. Having been under the impression that this strange and unexplored genre had alot to do with using atonal machine sounds as instruments, I had been turned off to even looking into it for a while. However, after having been given the explanation that the realm of 'industrial' was an extension of the psychedelic scene - exploring music by experimenting with new, as yet unheard sounds - I decided to start my journey into this genre with a band I had already heard plenty of good things about. While I had heard a few fleeting moments of NIN beforehand, this would be my first experience with Reznor's music, and suffice to say, I'm very happy that I made the leap of faith.

The first listen to 'The Downward Spiral' as you can imagine, was something of a system shock. I wasn't sure whether it was amazing in it's arrangement and density, or unlistenable in it's atonality and heaviness. As the music first starts going, the listener is bombarded with a collage of controlled noise with a subdued vocal melody singing over top of it. Before long though, some strong melodic hooks are thrown in as a perfect counterbalance to the harsh tones. This style and emphasis on dissonance carries out through most of the album, with a few segments (such as the interlude 'A Warm Place') counting as exceptions.

While the songs themselves are enjoyable, possibly the most enjoyable thing about 'The Downward Spiral' is it's sense of experimental production and sonic density. At any given time, there are multiple things going on, which can make it a pretty challenging listen at first until you start getting a hang of the basics. The sounds and loops used here are also a point of interest, because alot of these sounds cannot be heard in nature as we would think it. While most rock bands focus on the melodies and songwriting and seem to forget about the importance of the actual sound itself, Trent Reznor seems to be meticulous in the way he crafts the sounds of the studio to his liking. What emerges is something that can only be described as sounding 'dystopian.'

'The Downward Spiral' is described as being a concept album about one man's decent into insanity. While there isn't a real flowing narrative here, the general running tone of the album helps to bind it together as a single piece of music. While the middle section of the album seems to be a bit of a dip in quality ('I Do Not Want This' is a good track, but doesn't compare too well to the rest of the fantastic music) the final moments make up for it and more. Strangely enough, Trent Reznor decides to top off the album with a track thats quite unlike the rest of the album that came before it. 'Hurt' is what you could call Nine Inch Nails' version of a ballad; poignant, dense yet filled with emotion and poignance. Being quite a bit more melodic and laid- back than alot of the other music here, it makes for a really heart-wrenching end to an album which I can safely say has changed my view on music.

Members reviews

Doomster
"Annie, hold a little tighter, I might just slip away..."

This was actually an album that I just kept as a rating for awhile and not a review. I felt that, if I reviewed it, my words would not do justice to the contents of the album because it is just too far above and beyond my words and important to me that it would be difficult describe it like it needs to be described. But, one day, I just decided - "fuck it, I'm reviewing The Downward Spiral." And so I'm reviewing it, but it might not be easy.

Nine Inch Nails' "The Downward Spiral" is without a shadow of a doubt one of my favorite albums of all time, not only because of the musical and lyrical power of it, but because of how important it is to me personally. Being on the brink of suicide for awhile now, "The Downward Spiral" (perhaps ironically?), along with "The Eye of Every Storm" by Neurosis and "In Utero" by Nirvana, could be considered one of the reasons I'm still here. Perhaps this might be ironic given the concept of misery that encompasses this album, but this is exactly why. To know that true suffering can be shared and or pitied, even if its only a sound on your speakers, gives a feel of cleansing. When I listen to this album, I feel absolutely miserable, but come out fresh and hopeful because I know I'm not the only one who's suffering through these problems.

Musically, "The Downward Spiral" is an album which Trent Reznor obviously set out to say "Well, its my next album, so let's make it as good as I can." And it shows - The Downward Spiral is without a doubt the peak of Reznor's musical career, heavy, harsh, misanthropic and even...sad. While NIN's other albums are also great, none of them can compare to this one, which remains fresh literally from the first second of the CD to the last. There is not a single moment of bad music here, in my eyes.

The basic album follows a jist or concept - a story of a collapse into a deep depression caused by a schizophrenic, antagonistic entity in the protagonist's head that injects depression. To escape from the suffering of the Mr. Self Destruct/Ruiner/mechanical voice in his head, the protagonist.... *spoiler* *spoiler* *spoiler* The album undergous many different states of mind, specifically anger, mental illness and regret, but also occasional glimpses of happiness and comfort - short stops on tropical islands before you continue your journey swimming through a sea of boiling water (special thanks to MutantClannfear on Metallum for that line). Let's just say the album has an unrelenting feeling of misery and darkness behind it that, despite how disturbing it is, you can't stop listening to it.

On other words about the lyrical and vocal content, Trent Reznor is without a doubt a genius at it. The vocals in track 7 "The Becoming" are by god the peak of Reznor's vocals and some of the best he has ever uttered in any of his songs. Just so full of intensity, so full of emotion, all different kinds of it. Trent Reznor, similarly to Maynard James Keenan (Tool) or Edgy 59 (Burning Witch), has a difficult to master vocal talent of sounding like a vicious mental ward patient at one moment and a cornered, kicked animal in the other. The lyrics invoke very disturbing, paranoia-inducing imagery, and if you don't read me, just take these examples from the album:

"The me that you know, he used to have feelings, but the blood has stopped pumping and he is left to decay The me that you know is now made up of wires, and even when I'm right with you, I'm still so far away." - Track 7, "The Becoming"

"Scar you, break you, lose me, hate me, smash me, erase me, kill me, kill me, kill me" - Track 11, "Eraser"

"All the pigs are all lined up, I give you all that you want Take the skin and peel it back, now doesn't it make you feel better?" - Track 4, "March of the Pigs"

Regardless of what they mean to you, they still invoke a very disturbing imagery in your head no matter the cause. This album, to me, is a masterpiece. Its a disturbing, decaying, destructive concept album that is absolutely massive in its approach and is important to me beyond words. In fact, I'm a bit disappointed about how this review turned out, as I foreshadowed earlier; because my words do not do justice to how incredible it is. One of the best industrial albums ever written, Trent Reznor really outdid himself here and this is beyond doubt the best of his musical career. Buy it if you haven't already.

Since the album is basically meant to be listened to as a whole (since its a concept album), its difficult to pick standout tracks (especially since all of them are great songs), but if I had to choose highlights, they would be:

March of the Pigs, Closer, Ruiner, The Becoming, Eraser, Hurt

The only downside I can think of here is: don't buy the double-sided version. It has excellent quality, yes, and a great idea to have both the DVD and CD on each side, but its pretty much impossible to not smudge it when you pick it up to put it in the player. Either way, it doesn't detract to how great this album and band is.

Song rankings: Mr. Self Destruct 9/10 Piggy 8/10 Heresy 8/10 March of the Pigs 9/10 Closer 9/10 Ruiner 9/10 The Becoming 10/10 I Do Not Want This 8.5/10 Big Man with a Gun 7.5/10 A Warm Place 8.5/10 Eraser 10/10 Reptile 9.5/10 The Downward Spiral 9/10 Hurt 11/10

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