By William Bonfiglio
The words “grating,” “harsh” and “upsetting” are not frequently associated with successful music. But beginning in the late eighties, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails substituted these characteristics for melody and rhythm to create an entirely novel genre of music dubbed “industrial.”
In 2007, Reznor announced he was disbanding his live group, Nine Inch Nails (NIN). Many wondered whether he would retire from the corporate music scene altogether. His subtle messages to fans did nothing to abate these concerns. On more than one occasion in 2010, the only graphic portrayed on the NIN website was a question mark.
Reznor never truly left the music profession. He was involved with projects like film soundtracks and reissues for previously successful albums. He was also working with his wife, Mariqueen Maandig, formerly of the band West Indian Girl, and the composer Atticus Ross on a fresh project. On June 1, the group made their project available to the public. The release was an EP titled “How To Destroy Angels,” credited to a group of the same name. Though not innovative or influential, the project does show he will remain in the musical scene for a while.
The style of music of the project is not a significant departure from past styles. Many familiar with the work of NIN have compared it to a 1999 double album release titled “The Fragile,” noted for its gloomy ambience. Maandig’s vocals in “How to Destroy Angels” are similar to vocals on “The Fragile” due to the thick and distorted sound of the voice, and the haunting, whispery narration. What some listeners have identified as a mind-numbing monotone can actually be read as the voice of an exhausted victim, who perhaps knows her efforts are futile, pathetically inquiring in “The Drowning,” and “Please, anyone, I don’t think I can save myself. I’m drowning here.”
Knowing the key to success lies in exposure, Reznor and his group have provided a link to download the EP for free on the band’s website, howtodestroyangels.com.
Through his new release, and the news that Reznor will compose the music featured in the highly anticipated film, “The Social Network,” which chronicles the creation of Facebook, Reznor has shown he has not given up on the world as an audience.