Rating:
9.3
Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral
8 March 1994


Disc I
01. Mr. Self Destruct
02. Piggy
03. Heresy
04. March Of The Pigs
05. Closer
06. Ruiner
07. The Becoming
08. I Do Not Want This
09. Big Man With A Gun
10. A Warm Place
11. Eraser
12. Reptile
13. The Downward Spiral
14. Hurt

Disc II [bonus]
01. Burn
02. Closer (Precursor)
03. Piggy (Nothing Can Stop Me Now)
04. A Violet Fluid
05. Dead Souls
06. Hurt (Quiet)
07. Closer To God
08. All The Pigs, All Lined Up
09. Memorabilia
10. The Downward Spiral (The Bottom)
11. Ruiner [Demo version]
12. Liar [Reptile Demo version]
13. Heresy [Demo version]


What an experience! Nine Inch Nails, still in the early days of an promising career, but already pretty established in the musical scene with the very well received Pretty Hate Machine strike this time with one of the best concept albums ever released. An album that cannot be judged by analysing each track individually (although the high number of Singles released may disagree with that statement), since by doing that you may miss all the beauty of the detailed downfall of humanity.

Yes, this album is just as you may guess, stuffed with metaphors, existentialism ideals, always tending to the nihilism. And despite having Trent Reznor as ''man in command'' in many aspects, The Downward Spiral does not represent him in essence. It is a conceptual story, where Trent describes a character enlightened by his views of society, religion and the whole existence to a latent nothingness, and through these ideals ended up drowned in depression.

Clearly Trent's own beliefs and thoughts had a huge influence in the lyrical production, as he states that the record was about an extension of himself, but ended up becoming ''the truth fulfilling itself'' according to some internet rumours. Either way, we can safely accept this album as a representation of a specific facet in the human behaviour, the one who will apparently lead us to decay.

Leaving all the melodrama and Nietzsche quotes aside for a moment, the sonority of the album supports the concept perfectly. As an important representative of the Industrial genre growth in the early 90ths, we have a large use of synthesizers affecting the sound of guitars and drums, which mixed with the harsh (yet sometimes seductive) voice of Trent, create a unique atmosphere. A tragic-comic, many times obscene atmosphere, dealing with the variables changes in the state of mind, especially through the lyrics.

And that's where we find the weakest part of the album, in the lyrical department. They are exaggeratedly simplistic, away from the complexity that the concept should require (post-punk influences are clear here), usually representing angry statements without apparent depth. But I am still torn into considering the lyrics good or bad, since despite seeming shallow, they successfully fulfil the music, and their repetition and shortness were embedded into the songs in an intelligent and impacting way.

This album is as classic as it is powerful, a little away from metal, but recommended to anyone who slightly sympathizes with music. Industrial rock drained to the extreme, in which the lyrics are the only (and doubtful) imperfection. Too bad that the sequence of great albums in Nine Inch Nails discography was never able to surpass this excellent piece of art.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9
Production: 8


Band profile: Nine Inch Nails
Album: The Downward Spiral


 


written by Uirapuru | 13.04.2010


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



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Uirapuru - 13.04.2010 at 16:47  
Wish I had read jupitreas' article about industrial music before writing this.

Althou there is not much to do. As he says in the article, the label of ''industrial'' in the Ministry influenced bands is already deeply stabilished. Not much to do.

But still, is good to let some things clear... call NIN sampler rock (or alternatively electronic rock and metal ) as it is suggested in the article could at least call some attention for that matter.
soadbyob - 13.04.2010 at 16:56  
Amazing album, NIN fuckin rules
Joey Jo Jo - 14.04.2010 at 06:22  
I think everything works for this album. While the lyrics would normally come across as angsty and immature, I buy em coming from trent at that point in his career. While he never topped the downward spiral, I thought Year Zero came pretty close to equaling it. My only complaint of the review is rather tedious: Only an 8 out of 10 for production?! I think its one of the best produced albums of all time. How Reznor creates a landscape of sounds is amazing. Really, sound production is his strong point.
Uirapuru - 14.04.2010 at 15:25  
Written by Joey Jo Jo on 14.04.2010 at 06:22

Only an 8 out of 10 for production?! I think its one of the best produced albums of all time. How Reznor creates a landscape of sounds is amazing. Really, sound production is his strong point.


You're right Its just a problem that I have with the Production slot in the reviews... I give their rate usually regarding the ''cleansing'' of the sound, independently if fits the album's atmosphere or not. And Downward Spiral has not a glass-clean production. Plus the well calculated track-lenghts and tempo sonority ended up in the 8/10.

But I should change that behaviour... since atmosphere has a major importance when it comes to music, and the production really helped when we talk about this album...
Mr. Doctor - 14.04.2010 at 17:49  
Written by Uirapuru on 14.04.2010 at 15:25

You're right Its just a problem that I have with the Production slot in the reviews... I give their rate usually regarding the ''cleansing'' of the sound, independently if fits the album's atmosphere or not. And Downward Spiral has not a glass-clean production. Plus the well calculated track-lenghts and tempo sonority ended up in the 8/10.

But I should change that behaviour... since atmosphere has a major importance when it comes to music, and the production really helped when we talk about this album...

Regarding how clean the sound is? No offense dude but that was a nice joke from your part. Seeing bands like Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone, Shining and so on in your favorite list I can almost see your reviews with grades around 8-9 and the production grade being a 4 or something
Uirapuru - 14.04.2010 at 18:35  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 14.04.2010 at 17:49

Written by Uirapuru on 14.04.2010 at 15:25

You're right Its just a problem that I have with the Production slot in the reviews... I give their rate usually regarding the ''cleansing'' of the sound, independently if fits the album's atmosphere or not. And Downward Spiral has not a glass-clean production. Plus the well calculated track-lenghts and tempo sonority ended up in the 8/10.

But I should change that behaviour... since atmosphere has a major importance when it comes to music, and the production really helped when we talk about this album...

Regarding how clean the sound is? No offense dude but that was a nice joke from your part. Seeing bands like Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone, Shining and so on in your favorite list I can almost see your reviews with grades around 8-9 and the production grade being a 4 or something


Yes... that is probably what I would do..

Bad production is bad production... if it fits the atmosphere in a perfect way is a completly different matter, and the text of the review will let clear that the raw sound is what make the album so great.
Mr. Doctor - 14.04.2010 at 18:43  
Written by Uirapuru on 14.04.2010 at 18:35

Bad production is bad production... if it fits the atmosphere in a perfect way is a completly different matter, and the text of the review will let clear that the raw sound is what make the album so great.


I don't think it's a different matter, both the clean-level and how it fits are the things that make a production bad or good, not the clean-level alone.
Uirapuru - 14.04.2010 at 18:50  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 14.04.2010 at 18:43

Written by Uirapuru on 14.04.2010 at 18:35

Bad production is bad production... if it fits the atmosphere in a perfect way is a completly different matter, and the text of the review will let clear that the raw sound is what make the album so great.


I don't think it's a different matter, both the clean-level and how it fits are the things that make a production bad or good, not the clean-level alone.


Well.. its not the clean level all alone... in the production I also take into account the structure of the album (track lenghts, unnecessary filler parts, faster or slower recording in inappropriate moments, etc.).

I see how wrong this may seem, since bad production isn't always ''bad''... but I just feel like the cleasiness of the sound should have some importance nonetheless...
!J.O.O.E.! - 01.09.2011 at 01:18  
I wish I could appreciate this album the way I do Pretty Hate Machine or the Broken EP, both of which have far better songs rather than just being showcases for various industrial textures like this. It's a good album but I don't think I'm ever gonna love it.
Evil Chip - 05.12.2012 at 03:04  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 01.09.2011 at 01:18

I wish I could appreciate this album the way I do Pretty Hate Machine or the Broken EP, both of which have far better songs rather than just being showcases for various industrial textures like this. It's a good album but I don't think I'm ever gonna love it.

Weird from a guy who is used to much more "obscure" - texture oriented albums. Although I don't think this is completely the case
!J.O.O.E.! - 05.12.2012 at 03:06  
Written by Evil Chip on 05.12.2012 at 03:04

Weird from a guy who is used to much more "obscure" - texture oriented albums. Although I don't think this is completely the case

Yeah the tone and approach on this has never quite gelled with me. Feels a bit like a haphazard collage of sounds. For once I appreciate the band being a bit more straightforward
Evil Chip - 05.12.2012 at 03:33  
Behind that haphazard or wall of abrassive sounds there are often not so strange and straightforward song structures. For instance you should try it again (just saying)
!J.O.O.E.! - 05.12.2012 at 03:45  
Written by Evil Chip on 05.12.2012 at 03:33

Behind that haphazard or wall of abrassive sounds there are often not so strange and straightforward song structures. For instance you should try it again (just saying)

Well I've given it 8 apparently so it seems I do like it, just as much as the two records that precede it

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