Trent Reznor has been a pretty busy man of late. Ever since his side stepping projects with Atticus Ross enabled him a worthy win of an Oscar for the score on The Social Network, he has been hot stuff. Not just in his main Nine Inch Nails frontman role but also for his unique touch when it comes to creating music for visual pieces. And then there’s his Executive status at Apple Music that has seen the service switch full time to streaming content, that include the likes of radio shows and exclusive musical content.
However, as promised in 2016, he dropped a short EP Not The Actual Events which was recently revealed to be the first part of a trilogy of short releases. Add Violence is the middle portion and he is now set to embark on the first live festival run for Nine Inch Nails in three years.
The first surprise hit of the EP was “Less Than” which harks back to a more contemporary Nine Inch Nails sound – more “fluffy” than the old nineties industrial metal sound that most die hard fans crave. However, once this dance-fuelled smash comes to an end, the EP takes a dark, sinister turn for which Reznor and Ross are both notable. Moody, repetitive tones underlie “The Lovers” which builds uncomfortably, just like the unsettling score they both created for psychological thriller Gone Girl before subtly dropping into “This Isn’t The Place”, a sexual fantasy of the unique piano tinklings of Reznor and his whispered delicate vocals that tingle down your spine. Already, the follow up to Not The Actual Events shows as less angry, less in your face with more emotional fragmentation that enables you to sit, listen and to feel the depths of your inner soul at its most fragile.
“Not Anymore” does pick up on an old school industrial feel within the first few seconds before dropping into a louder, visceral sound whereby Reznor floats down the old road of resentful lyrics as guitars scream together with his own vocals. However, it is not a pure rage-fest like Nine Inch Nails may once have been seen, but flips perfectly between loud and quiet so catches you off guard before blending perfectly into final track “The Background World”. This slows down to finish you off.
The final track is one you’d be likely to hear at the end of a long night out in the dirtiest grunge club you can imagine, sweat dripping down your brow as your tired aching limbs move around to the tender touches of the finale before it breaks down into what could be described as an apocalypse in the ear canal.
It is difficult to review a band like Nine Inch Nails as the path has never been a set one, and it will always be problematic to compare to the iconic music that was put out in the youth of its day. However, by attaching Atticus Ross as a permanent member of Nine Inch Nails, Reznor has allowed himself to play with a long time collaborator that brings out the best in his ability to play in the digital sphere whilst still maintaining the traditional sense of being a live act that can blow your mind.
Reznor’s music is not something you may immediately like, nor is it something you could quite easily introduce to a novice, but when you sit and listen to it for what it is, it proves again the genius and the influence Trent has, not to mention that despite the change in genres and sound, he always manages to hold on to a unique sound that is distinctly recognisable and difficult to recreate.
Add Violence is out now.