Flashback Friday: Nine Inch Nails

First, let me state that I haven’t seriously listened to Nine Inch Nails in years. I’m over it. Just don’t have the tortured confusion and self-obsession I had in my early to mid twenties. Does a band that is still actively touring and recording music deserve a flash back? This question oddly reminds of the time Gus Van Sant was asked “Why in the hell would you want to do a shot-by-shot remake of Psycho in color?” He serenely replied “So no one else would have to.” Yes, it will have to be done sooner or later, and since I’m still on a high from seeing them live in Amsterdam at Paradiso with Ladytron opening, now seems like a good time.I didn’t even start listening to industrial music until late 1995, on the downward side of the genre’s peak years of the late eighties and early nineties. My first girlfriend upon moving to Florida got me into bands like KMFDM, Ministry, Revolting Cocks, Skinny Puppy, and of course NIN. Pretty Hate Machine was released in 1989, virtually ignored upon it’s release, it hit both platinum and double platinum status in 1995 on the success of The Downward Spiral. Nails had evolved with Broken and The Downward Spiral but there is still no better example of pure nihilistic synth pop/industrial than Pretty Hate Machine.

I’ve never spoken to anyone about their listening experience of Pretty Hate Machine, but for me it involved a lot of self deprecating, crying, and drinking. I was truly a tortured soul, no really.. and the album felt like it was written specifically for me, seriously.. why are you laughing? As I seemed to be the only person on the planet who was feeling these things.. It’s easy to make light of those feelings now, but at the time you’re feeling them it does seem like that’s all there is. Hence Pretty Hate Machine easily falls into my top three most played albums of all time. Yeah, Nails can be an obsession when you’re down in it. Which brings me to the review of show in Amsterdam.

How in the fuck does a successful musician of 41 years channel the anger of an isolated and disaffected youth? Beats the fuck out of me. I’m thirty and it’s difficult for me to feel aggressive about anything anymore, except maybe being stuck in traffic. Color me impressed. Trent brought it and then some. The guy doesn’t even own a phone. The venue, Paradiso, may be the perfect place to see a concert. The sound was amazing, easily in the top three, if not the top venue I’ve ever heard. A sold out capacity crowd of 1200 which was small enough to retain the intimacy of a club show, yet large enough to feel the energy of a stadium full of crazed fans. The visuals were minimalistic, three six foot multi-colored led light boards on stage, and your normal stage lighting. Nothing extravagant like the lighting for The Fragile tour. I liked the minimalism. It kept the focus on the band, and with a stage that was barely large enough to fit all their gear, this was a good thing. The set list was played in almost the same order as the Beside You in Time DVD. I’d like to say they played some new material, but I can’t be certain as I was mostly drunk, mostly.Having a renewed interest in the band, I listened to some tracks from the upcoming Year Zero which sounds much like the Nails of Broken and The Downward Spiral. In retrospect this makes With Teeth appear to be a transitional album, Trent moving from self absorption to external exploration, and I can tell you one thing, he doesn’t like what he sees. Take these lyrics from My Violent Heart, “you have set something in motion, much greater than you’ve ever known, standing there in all your grand naivety, about to reap what you have sown. Time will feed upon your weaknesses, and soon you’ll loseWeight Exercise the will to care, when you return to the place that you call home, we will be there.” I’ve got to say, Nails lost me for a while, but I’m back, “on hands and knees, we crawl, you can not stop us all.”

Nine Inch Nails – Down In It
Nine Inch Nails – The Only Time
Nine Inch Nails – Wish (Autopsy’s personal favorite NIN song)

Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero will be released on April 17. You can stream the entire cd here.

Autopsy Note:
The above was written by James. You may think of him as the guy that takes time out of his day a couple of times every week to edit my monograph, rambling and hanging prepositional half drunken efforts into reasonably lucid pieces for you guys to read. For free no less. He is also a photographer. Well. He recently registered a URL and has moved all of his photographs over onto it. Below are a some samples of his work. I love the pictures of Amsterdam. The work is great and the subject is sex for money. Can’t beat that with a hard dick. So check out his site and make him your myspace friend.

Here are some samples of his work:

2 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Nine Inch Nails”

  1. Although it’s also been a while since I’ve really listened to NIN, I would have killed to see Trent in Amsterdam.

    “…no better example of pure nihilistic synth pop/industrial than Pretty Hate Machine.” – As much as I enjoy PHM (and it is one of my all time most played albums as well), I always thought it was too watered down / altered by TVT records. For me, “Broken” has always been the album that defined Trent.

    I bought “With Teeth,” but it never really grabbed me like the older material did. I’m on the fence about picking up “Year Zero”

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