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Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral review


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Band: Nine Inch Nails
Album: The Downward Spiral
Release date: March 1994

Disc I
01. Mr. Self Destruct
02. Piggy
03. Heresy
04. March Of The Pigs
05. Closer
06. Ruiner
07. The Becoming
08. I Do Not Want This
09. Big Man With A Gun
10. A Warm Place
11. Eraser
12. Reptile
13. The Downward Spiral
14. Hurt

Disc II [bonus]
01. Burn
02. Closer (Precursor)
03. Piggy (Nothing Can Stop Me Now)
04. A Violet Fluid
05. Dead Souls
06. Hurt (Quiet)
07. Closer To God
08. All The Pigs, All Lined Up
09. Memorabilia
10. The Downward Spiral (The Bottom)
11. Ruiner [demo]
12. Liar [Reptile Demo version]
13. Heresy [demo]

Throughout the 16 years I've been listening to metal now, I've listened to The Downward Spiral over 1,800 albums. This is the one that has stood out the most and has kept me coming back, discovering something new each time.

While I could make this review (my first review on MS) about the album itself, its ahead-of-the-times production, outstanding songwriting, or even its association with the Manson murders, I want to make it about my personal experience with it.

I first learned about Nine Inch Nails around 2005 time, when I was first getting into metal and started playing guitar. My first experience was with "The Hand That Feeds" included on a disc that came with Kerrang! I thought this music was strange at first (electronic sounds in metal?), but grew to enjoy it. Little did I realise what NIN's back catalog had in stock.

I saved up enough pocket money to buy a NIN album and chose The Downward Spiral, its bleak cover catching my eye. On first listen, I was overwhelmed by the sheer darkness and feeling of despair captured on this album. After a couple more listens, it quickly became addictive. I wanted to learn more about this band and its songwriters (I later learned it is a solo project).

Over the past 15 years, I've revisted this album many times, and each time it doesn't disappoint. I've watched and listened to almost every interview with Trent around that time, watched countless live performances, and seen them live 3 times in person, obsessed with learning as much about the mind behind this masterpiece as possible. I've learned that the best way to do this is just to put on a pair of high-quality headphones (Audio Technica ATH-M50s recommended), pour a good drink, sit back in a dark room and let the music take me back to that first listen, entranced by the sheer darkness of Trent's poetry.

While there are clear highlights on The Downward Spiral ("Closer" and "Hurt" being the most popular), it should be consumed as a whole to fully appreciate the beauty, innovation, and despair that make up what I consider to be the greatest piece of music ever created.

While I've listened to many albums, none of them compare to the journey The Downward Spiral takes you on. A journey through the darkest parts of the mind. An insight into a broken man's psyche. A companion for dark times in your own life, letting you know you aren't alone in suffering.

We are all human, and all have a dark side. Sometimes, all we need is to share it. To me, that is exactly what Trent has achieved here.

This is more than an album. This is a friend for your darkest times.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 10
Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Production: 10

Written by nonZero | 10.12.2021

Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Guest review by
What an experience! Nine Inch Nails, still in the early days of an promising career, but already pretty established in the musical scene with the very well received Pretty Hate Machine strike this time with one of the best concept albums ever released. An album that cannot be judged by analysing each track individually (although the high number of Singles released may disagree with that statement), since by doing that you may miss all the beauty of the detailed downfall of humanity.

published 13.04.2010 | Comments (13)


Comments: 1   Visited by: 19 users
12.12.2021 - 16:57
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Congratulations whit you'r first review here.
Kerrang, does it still exist. Never felt for this band
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing

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