Nine Inch Nails ‘Add Violence’ Review: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross channel beautiful decay on new NIN E.P.
Trent Reznor is back with Add Violence, the latest Nine Inch Nails release. And the 5 song EP, which follows on the heels of 2016’s Not The Actual Events is an overall solid affair that’s more satisfying and varied than that scattershot effort.
Things kick off with Less Than, which is standard issue NIN, and that’s not an insult. It’s an engaging, strident rocker with an insistent needling synth line and bombastic guitar driven chorus that’s as immediate and catchy as any single the group has ever produced, pulling from past glories like Only and Heresy.
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Add Violence covers an impressive amount of sonic terrain in its brief running time, trafficking in the various musical motifs that has defined Reznor’s career. The haunting, ambient, Eno-esque The Lovers is peppered with the types of gurgling synths and cavernous washes of sounds that recall Reznor’s work with Atticus Ross on film scores including The Social Network and Gone Girl (Ross is also the sole collaborator on Add Violence).
This is The Place is a lovely, let desolate affair, where Reznor’s unadorned, nasal croon floats above a seasick, piano flecked arrangement, casting a disorienting, yet beautiful spell.
Follow-up Not Anymore is an enervating, if slightly one-dimensional industrial clanger, which sets the stage for the cinematic, John Carpenter-ish closing track The Background World. It’s a simmering number featuring an irresistible synth arpeggio, Closer style drum machine beats and submerged vocals.
That song’s magnetic pull switches gears at the end, and will likely push some fans to press the skip button. It ends with a long and ever mutating synth loop with intentional skips, each successive pass adding more distressed textures until it sounds like a transmission from deep space. For an ear punishing nerd like myself, its total nirvana, but I understand it will prove divisive.
Add Violence proves Reznor still has the goods, even if he’s settled down and become surprisingly well-adjusted. His inner malcontent and sonic obsessive nature remains delightfully intact.
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