Throughout his career Trent Reznor has collaborated with many artists including David Bowie, Marilyn Manson and Saul Williams. Even Nine Inch Nails could be seen as a solo artist working with a large group of producers, engineers and musicians. His latest musical endeavour is entitled How to Destroy Angels and features his recently wedded wife Mariqueen Maandig and long time collaborator Atticus Ross.
This self titled EP opens with ‘The Space in Between’ where sparse drum beats recall Portishead’s ‘Machine Gun’. But just in case we thought any different the violin/guitar chords remind us we are definitely in NIN country and even Mariqueens vocals are delivered in a Trent Reznor-esque croon. Not that this is a terrible thing. This is a welcome departure from his Year Zero output and return to his earlier, more experimental style.
‘Fur Lined’ could almost be seen as an alternate take on ‘Only’ from 2005s With Teeth with nearly identical drums and guitars, a good thing seeing as ‘Only’ is possibly the best song NIN produced in the last decade.
‘Parasite’ is a noisier affair with its ‘Downward Spiral’ style distorted wailing guitars and eerie whispers. Trent also provides vocals on this track in case you missed his voice. ‘BBB’ is a similar song which features howling guitars and heavy drum beats. In ways, this doesn’t sound too far from what the likes of HEALTH and Crystal Castles are doing. ‘The Believers’ is an industrial rock track which is simultaneously melodic and abrasive. Rhythm is created using high-pitched squeals and manipulated sounds which results in a something fans of Clint Mansell and Coil would approve of.
The record closes with ‘A Drowning’ which seems to be about a lost soul searching for salvation. These ‘cry for help’ ballads have become somewhat of a trademark for NIN but sadly (or thankfully?) this song isn’t as tear inducing as ‘Hurt’ or most of Reznor’s classic album The Fragile .
This EP is a mixed bag, some songs are easily forgettable. While it is a short EP it shows that the band are capable of. By recreating some of the best elements of his past work Reznor has reminded us where he was at and where he is going. Hopefully, sometime in the future, we will get to see how the band sound on a full length album.
Available for free download at http://howtodestroyangels.com/