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Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8.75
Musicianship 8.5
Lyrics 8.75
Production 9
Creativity 9
Lasting Value 9.5
Reviewer Tilt 9.5
Final Verdict: 90%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.92
Musicianship 9
Lyrics 9.67
Production 10
Creativity 9.83
Lasting Value 9.75
Reviewer Tilt 9.33
Average: 95%
Inside AP.net

Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral

Reviewed by: Undue Noise (01/17/09)
Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral
Record Label: Nothing Records
Release Date: March 8, 1994

Fourteen years after its release, The Downward Spiral remains every bit as wonderful to listen to. With the surprise radio hit of “Closer” contributing to the album’s multi-million selling numbers, The Downward Spiral is a visceral, haunting concept album, telling the story of a man’s descent into despair and depravity, modeled on Trent Reznor, the sole member of Nine Inch Nails.

This despair is evident from the beginning, with the album opening with “Mr. Self Destruct,” a song that displays Reznor’s trademark whisper/scream vocal dynamic throughout, before segueing into the bass-heavy “Piggy,” with an almost chant like refrain of “nothing can stop me now / ‘cause I don't care anymore.” The bleakness of life that The Downward Spiral presents is shown through tales of self-loathing and sexual deviancy, subjects that have fueled many of Nine Inch Nails’ greatest songs, including the infamous “Closer.” An MTV hit that has become greatly misconstrued as a song simply about sex, it is the embodiment of the escapism and nihilistic tendencies that are present in every second of this album.

The textured soundscapes that Reznor creates help to form an experience that every listener longs for with an album; the music sounds insurmountably huge, with the vocals emerging from layers of distorted sounds and blank noise ambience, shown most prominently on “Eraser.” While the album may be almost entirely desolate, the way Reznor crafts the songs with unflinching honesty and sonic precision make it such a pleasure to hear. On multiple listens, a new sound is picked up each time, or a lyric might have a different meaning than what you first thought.

The spectacle ends with album closer “Hurt.” While Johnny Cash’s version of this classic has breathed new life into the song, “Hurt” remains every bit a Nine Inch Nails song. Poignantly beautiful, this low key song pervades an excruciating loneliness through every note, lyric and chord. The simplicity of the chord structure and vocal melody, with Reznor’s softly spoken words invading your consciousness, combines to produce the most heartfelt songs on the album, full of isolation and desolation. As Reznor softly sings: “everyone I know goes away in the end,” The Downward Spiral cements it’s reputation as the one of the bleakest album to go multi-platinum.

The Downward Spiral is an album that is loved by many and liked by few. There is hardly any middle ground when dealing with nefarious encounters (“Reptile”) and Nietzsche-esque rampages (“Heresy”), channeling an anger and frustration that is matched by few. In a current mainstream music climate that marvels over marketed, auto-tuned remakes of something you’ve already heard, it’s albums like The Downward Spiral that make the ultimate, necessary connection with the listener, through being honest and uncompromising. If the descent of human nature is anything like Reznor has depicted it on The Downward Spiral, at least it will sound as good as this.

Tracklisting1. Mr. Self Destruct
2. Piggy
3. Heresy
4. March Of The pigs
5. Closer
6. Ruiner
7. The Becoming
8. I Do Not Want This
9. Big Man With A Gun
10. A Warm Place
11. Eraser
12. Reptile
13. The Downward Spiral
14. Hurt


www.nin.com
www.myspace.com/nin
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 15
01:13 PM on 01/26/09
#2
vakuola
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great review, and very fair rating
02:11 PM on 01/26/09
#3
nodice410
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great review, epic record!
08:18 AM on 03/07/09
#4
Undue Noise
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great review, and very fair rating

great review, epic record!
Thank you and thank you. One of my all time favourite albums.
10:54 AM on 03/17/09
#5
TachyonEvan
Batman, for example, and Magellan.
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Most overrated album of all time.
12:57 PM on 04/04/09
#6
Undue Noise
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Most overrated album of all time.
Really Evan? I thought you were a fan of NIN. Any reason why you don't like it?
04:56 PM on 04/04/09
#7
TachyonEvan
Batman, for example, and Magellan.
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Really Evan? I thought you were a fan of NIN. Any reason why you don't like it?
Oh, I'm a huge NIN fan, don't worry.

I just believe that TDS isn't the "masterpiece" everyone I've ever talked to about it thinks it is. It's not even close to being Trent's best album - it's actually, when you get right down to it, kind of an immature album. In my eyes, it wishes it was The Wall in its total destruction of a man's soul, but it doesn't achieve that level of intensity at any point. There are some incredible songs here, some that defy all explanation, and "Hurt" is one of the most emotionally intense songs of all time.

But it's just all kind of silly in comparison to the The Fragile, and I personally prefer YZ and The Slip to it. PHM has the same inconsistency problem.

I love TDS, and it's a very good album, but I hear so much about how it's just this incredible album, and I disagree.
04:58 PM on 04/04/09
#8
TachyonEvan
Batman, for example, and Magellan.
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I'd probably give it about what you did- a 90% sounds good. Maybe 88%.

But the "96%" it has in User Reviews? No way in hell.
11:45 PM on 04/04/09
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Undue Noise
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Oh, I'm a huge NIN fan, don't worry.

I just believe that TDS isn't the "masterpiece" everyone I've ever talked to about it thinks it is. It's not even close to being Trent's best album - it's actually, when you get right down to it, kind of an immature album. In my eyes, it wishes it was The Wall in its total destruction of a man's soul, but it doesn't achieve that level of intensity at any point. There are some incredible songs here, some that defy all explanation, and "Hurt" is one of the most emotionally intense songs of all time.

But it's just all kind of silly in comparison to the The Fragile, and I personally prefer YZ and The Slip to it. PHM has the same inconsistency problem.

I love TDS, and it's a very good album, but I hear so much about how it's just this incredible album, and I disagree.

I'd probably give it about what you did- a 90% sounds good. Maybe 88%.
But the "96%" it has in User Reviews? No way in hell.
Thanks for explaining for me. I actually do agree with you here. It's not my favourite NIN album, but I'd probably give most of Trent's body of work around 85 - 95%. I do prefer The Fragile and YZ to this as well.
08:43 AM on 04/05/09
TachyonEvan
Batman, for example, and Magellan.
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Thanks for explaining for me. I actually do agree with you here. It's not my favourite NIN album, but I'd probably give most of Trent's body of work around 85 - 95%. I do prefer The Fragile and YZ to this as well.
Haha, just wanted to clear myself up, O-LIV.

Happy 3k, by the way.
09:31 AM on 04/05/09
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Haha, just wanted to clear myself up, O-LIV.

Happy 3k, by the way.
That's cool, because I was so sure that you were a NIN fan haha. O-LIV? Nice way to say it!

Thanks, I'm trying to catch up with everyone else.
09:38 AM on 04/05/09
TachyonEvan
Batman, for example, and Magellan.
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That's cool, because I was so sure that you were a NIN fan haha. O-LIV? Nice way to say it!

Thanks, I'm trying to catch up with everyone else.
I was thinking of a cool way to say it.

From now on, I will call you O-LIV.

Catch up? What catching up? At this rate you're going to pass me by the end of the day.
09:54 AM on 04/05/09
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I was thinking of a cool way to say it.

From now on, I will call you O-LIV.

Catch up? What catching up? At this rate you're going to pass me by the end of the day.
Haha thank you, I will be pleased to be called O-LIV.

Ah I thought I was way futher behind everyone else than that. It's already 6pm here so porbably not today. Are you going to write anymore reviews Evan? I remember enjoying your review of The Con.
09:59 AM on 04/05/09
TachyonEvan
Batman, for example, and Magellan.
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Haha thank you, I will be pleased to be called O-LIV.

Ah I thought I was way futher behind everyone else than that. It's already 6pm here so porbably not today. Are you going to write anymore reviews Evan? I remember enjoying your review of The Con.
I've written a couple reviews of stuff that's been sent to me.

http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=951452
http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=941782
http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=941752

but I wish I had time to do more.
05:12 PM on 05/11/10
eatbabiesyum
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one of the best and most creative albums i own :)
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