With the release of the new Nine Inch Nails
EP Not The Actual Events,
and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (who is now a full member of the band) making plans to remaster The Downward Spiral
and The Fragile,
it seems like Trent is harkening back to his more aggressive output in the 90's. But is the anger still truly there?
The EP certainly seems to suggests this, being kicked off with Reznor screaming "it's like I've been here before"
- he hasn't let out a scream with that much emotion since "The Downward Spiral" in 1994. With its layers of noisy and distorted guitars, it seems like Reznor is moving towards a more raw industrial sound once again.
But it's not going to be in the same form, simply because this is not the same Reznor. In the 90's, Reznor was struggling with loads of drug problems. "The Downward Spiral" was recorded on a mountain of cocaine; The Fragile
was partially about his time on heroin. After Reznor got clean, he specifically took a break from the sounds that made him famous, embarking on projects like the soundtrack work with Atticus Ross on The Social Network, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,
and Gone Girl;
along with his more poppy moments on Hesitation Marks.
Even if Reznor is trying to tap into this anger, it's coming from a very different place than before. While his 90's output saw his aggression be turned inward, a post Year Zero
Reznor is one that looks at things with a more politically keen eye, and the soundtrack and ambient works he has done since then has helped him express it in totally different and subtle ways.
So, is Trent Reznor going the be the same pissed off industrial artist screaming "God is Dead" and committing implied suicide in his tracks? Probably not. This is a different Reznor, and this a totally different Nine Inch Nails entirely. Although beckoning to those past releases, these new releases don't feel like a rehash, or a cheap capitalization on nostalgia. Tracks like "Burning Bright (Field on Fire)" take slow sludgy guitar lines from songs like "Physical (You're So)" and "Reptile," while combining with more major chord foundational works from Hesitation Marks.
It rarely seems uninspired. Reznor is adopting this sound because it feels right at this moment and his continued insistence on moving forward with his music makes me excited for what's to come.