After the final tour of Nine Inch Nails Trent Reznor settled down, got married and stated that there is no possibility for Nine Inch Nails to tour/record anything in the nearest future. However, on May 4th 2010 a single (A Drowning) was issued by a band called How to Destroy Angels. The band includes Reznor, his wife, Mariqueen Maandig, a former vocalist for West Indian Girl and Atticus Ross, known for his previous cooperation with NIN. Subsequently the band released a video The Space in Between on May 14th 2010. And? We are expecting an EP in summer 2010, although nobody knows what does “summer 2010” mean yet cause it may be June and it could also mean August.
I will be absolutely honest about it. I am totally thrilled by the idea of How to Destroy Angels (the name itself is a tribute to Coil). Definitely – this is not Nine Inch Nails. But it is very much Trent Reznor. And there are various reasons for it.
First of all, much has been said about the relationship between Reznor and Maandig. Internauts are pretty harsh on Maandig in particular which is pretty weird. I know that most of the whining goth girls are still aged 15 and believe that one day they will marry a fairytale prince, whether it be Reznor, Robert Pattinson or Johnny Knoxville. However, it’s still surprising to me since I thought that NIN is most popular in the generations of today’s 30- and 40-year-olds. Second thing is even more surpising to me and, I gotta say… kinda scary. Maandig has been called “Yoko Reznor”, accused of destroying Nine Inch Nails, mocked and attacked. A huge amount of comments posted in the internet state that she has no talent at all and that her only quality is that she is actually very good-looking. From my perspective it’s all more than ridiculous. Artists have their own personal lives, you know. Lives that they are entitled to, lives that are not necessarily meant to be public, things that we have no right to take away from them. But the weirdest thing is happening right now with blaming Mariqueen Maandig for absolutely everything. Let me say it clearly. She is NOT Reznor’s Yoko Ono. She did not destroy Nine Inch Nails. If you want to accuse her of anything, at least be consequent, guys. Nine Inch Nails for years, throughout its whole existence, was a one-man-band. Nine Inch Nails was Trent Reznor. It’s not a band like the Beatles that included four talented musicians one of which had a demonic wife (and I think that Ono’s influence is highly overrated). Of course, there were several extremely talented musicians that were part of Nine Inch Nails but in fact this is a one-man-band, a group that in its essence was always dismantled and redesigned like lego pieces according to the project that it was working on – actually, I believe that the inventor of such a scheme is Frank Zappa 🙂
Moreover, I think that this weird strategy of blaming the women of famous and acknowledged musicians shows that you guys really have some bad gender issues. Mhm… let me think… various women of Jim Morrison (who obviously led to his path of self-destruction), Yoko Ono (who destroyed the Beatles), Courtney Love (who killed Kurt Cobain)… Guys! This is truly embarrassing…
Secondly – the funny thing is that changing a bit, switching to a band of three (while still, I believe, absolutely leading the band), giving up vocals for Maandig, changing the name of the band – fine, it’s all sweet but How to Destroy Angels are just a new form of Nine Inch Nails. Check it out for yourselves. Let’s pick The Space in Between – it’s a very good example. See the video.
The style, the music, the obsessive beat, the loop that is the base of the song. The tension in the music and the rising noise which culminates in the end of it with the continuous guitar sounds. The lyrics – voyeurism, mostly perceived as part of the decaying society, is one of the key concepts in Reznor’s art, you can see it in his lyrics, in the videos of NIN, in the screenings shown during NIN gigs. The Space in Between is literally screaming: “Trent Reznor”.
What has changed? Well… Some of us will find it hard with getting used to the new vocalist. Maandig is not a bad vocalist, I like her voice and I like her style of singing but it is very different from how Reznor sings. In my opinion it’s an advantage. Not that I don’t like the way Reznor sings – I think his voice was one of the key instruments in NIN – but I think it’s a fresh change. Reznor has a very emotional way of expressing things with his voice, it includes whispering, all kinds of screaming, hissing, howling. Maandig seems as if she was… numb. And, frankly – I love it! It gives the music a little surreal taste. It is as if she would be performing a person from a different world, a ghost maybe, someone who isn’t exactly real. I think the irreality of this voice makes HDTA’s music more haunting, more obsessive. In A Drowning it is as clear as in The Space in Between. Putting Maandig as the main vocalist is a major and a very brave change and I am looking forward to hear more of her vocal abilities which have been criticized so much for no real reason. Not every female vocalist is obligated to be hysterical and arguments that Maandig should sing more in the style of Tori Amos or Beth Gibbons of Portishead are really ridiculous. Apart from her style – the question remains, if she has got talent… And my answer is: we don’t know. We haven’t seen much so far and it’s really difficult to judge after listening to two tracks. But I wouldn’t be so harsh on Maandig cause her voice is harmonized with the atmosphere of both of the tracks in a perfect way. We should wait for the record and I am hoping that it will include more of her voice than we had a chance to listen to until now.
Finally, I am looking forward to this Reznor-Maandig-Ross cooperation (ok, ok, let’s cut the crap, we all know it’s just Reznor, lol). I don’t think Nine Inch Nails is gone and even though I was very disappointed and sad last year, thinking that NIN is breaking up and I will never hear anything new by Reznor anymore, right now I think that it will never be gone. HTDA is yet another amazing transformation of a truly experienced and mature artist. And if there are new musicians around him, no matter if it’s his wife, his friend or if it’s strictly business, I can only say that I cross my fingers for them and I am very curious about the effects of their creative cooperation.
P.S. And The Space in Between really ROCKS! Yes!
If you want to enter the official website of How to Destroy Angels, click here.