It’s fucking brilliant! It’s fucking awesome! And yes, screw all the goth-children whining about Reznor getting married, Maandig singing and whatever else they could be whining about. The main point here is – that we all know these demons from somewhere… hmm… let me think. Yep, we all know where from.
Finally, the EP by How to Destroy Angels is out! And I am absolutely not disappointed. It is clear that Reznor is heading more towards trip-hop than rock. But, on the other hand, isn’t it the core of industrial after all? And, no regrets, trust me, this actually is Nine Inch Nails, this is Reznor and the sole difference of this project is the change of the leading vocals (which are entirely handed over to Mariqueen Maandig) and heading to the more electro-direction.
It is in many ways similar to Ghosts. You can hear it especially in The Believers. In many ways it goes back to the core of Reznor’s music, with its obsessions, hypnotic trance-like rhythm, electronic noises and so on – e.g. Parasite which is my favorite. No questions about that.
The guitar maybe doesn’t get too sharp. And, well, it’s not the leading instrument here. There are moments where you can hear the tension of the riffs and slides. But even when speaking of Nine Inch Nails, you have to admit that Reznor is a natural born pianist. All of his music is definitely composed by a person whose first and main instrument was the piano – you can understand this kind of thinking when listening to the way how Reznor creates harmony and completes different melodies together. This is not imagination of a guitarist. This is pure piano. And, hence, How to Destroy Angels’ EP is also true to Reznor’s model of creating music. Maybe it’s just more noticeable since the guitar plays less important role here than it did in Nine Inch Nails.
Maandig’s voice is weird. I’m afraid she’s not a great vocalist and her abilities are rather mediocre. But I have to admit that she really fits the atmosphere of the whole. Her singing is sometimes flat, numb which makes the music even more creepy and hypnotic. Many people will point out that her singing can get a little bit boring after a while. True. But on the other hand I wouldn’t criticize too much. Can you imagine a hysterical and powerful female voice with this kind of music? No way. Sure, you’ll say Beth Gibbons did it. But honestly? Even though I admire Beth Gibbons a lot, her constant despair connected with depressing lyrics makes me more tired than numb, alien, flat voice which makes the whole surreal and much darker than raging guilt and trembling (yuck! Disgusting!) If you didn’t learn yet that a whisper is far more violent than any scream, well, then you probably shouldn’t listen to this record.
What I absolutely love about the record is that it reminds me of Ghosts so much. And, yes, I will admit it, it is one of my favorite of Reznor’s records. I love the rhythm in The Believers – reminds me a bit of ethnic music. Fur Lined is surprisingly pop for me – kinda punk rock, very catchy. But it’s just mistaking the listener cause the further you go the more layers of music pile up on one another and it all comes to a strong synthesizer close which gets mixed with distorted guitar sounds in the end. Very Reznorish. BBB – total electro-trance. Maandig and Reznor are speaking (Reznor more in the background), almost whispering which makes it even more hypnotic. Strong electronic beat is organizing the whole – it’s so powerful it’s almost consuming and feeding off of your brain. (Damn, I can really write esoteric shit, if I try hard! LOL!)
And, no, this is not the best album by Trent Reznor. But it’s ambitious, it’s powerful and it’s a consequent route that Reznor had once planned for himself – you can hear the echoes of all of his previous works and each of the albums, nevertheless if you hate some of them or not, if you’re a true orthodox believer in Pretty Hate Machine, The Downward Spiral, The Fragile or Year Zero, every following album goes beyond what had already been created. How to Destroy Angels’ EP is NOT an exception.
The most important key to this consequent approach is not only the music itself but also the lyrics. One may have thought that since Reznor had married and settled down, he would have created happy, hippy love songs. Well, he didn’t. You can all sleep safe and sound. The themes remain the same – oppression, domination, obsession and the whole complexity of it all. Perhaps this is why I fell in love with Parasite which only seems to be a naïve love duet. The irritating guitar sound in the intro already tells you where we’re heading. The beat is impudent and pushy. Then the noise starts. Maandig and Reznor start to sing. They sing in unison – it’s more between a whisper and a melody. And it’s so hypnotic, each word is spoken with unbelievable tension, although the voices are pretty flat. The lyrics are more about obsession than love – so typical of Reznor. And by each repetition of the word ‘parasite’ concluded with a strong guitar/electro noise, you just know that… hell… guys, you want it or not, you hate it or you love it, it doesn’t matter. This IS Nine Inch Nails.
And let’s just drink to this and be happy cause that means it’s not over as we all have thought a year ago. Just stop whining and download it right now (click here)!