Nine Inch Nails: Add Violence
Artist: Nine Inch Nails
Album: Add Violence
Released: July 19, 2017
Add Violence is part two of the trilogy of Nine Inch Nails EP’s that were announced by Trent Reznor in 2016. Released in July of 2017, it was obviously good timing as Nine Inch Nails was booked to play a handful of festival and multi-day events in the summer of 2017. Sported by a 1980’s-esque view game themed music video, “Less Than” opens the EP. Yes, a 1980’s themed music video. This is less surprising if you consider Reznor’s very ambient score to the first Quake computer game in 1996. Much of “Less Than” follows the same electronic arpeggio though waves up and down in additional instrumentation and crescendos. This technique was used a fair amount during The Fragile era, released in 1999. A broadcast of NIN’s performance at the FYF Fest in Los Angeles featured “Less Than” and the song has great energy when it is played live. The rhythm and tempo brings flashbacks of “The Beginning of the End” from The Slip in 2008. Though it starts very abruptly and offering no song introduction to open the EP, it’s possibly the most standout track from the first two of three EP’s.
“The Lovers” follows up and is quite the space-sound based composition. It opens with spoken Reznor vocals similar to “Down In It” or “The Downward Spiral”. Contrasting the very spacey electronics is Reznor’s piano and melodic chorus. Then dropping into an interlude of synth pop before building back up to another chorus. The song really resonates a curious creepiness and enough random strays from traditional songwriting and intrumentation to keep the listener predicting nothing.
“This Isn’t the Place” is, in my memory, the first actual jazz based song by Reznor. Exceptions to this would be any shorts that were created when Reznor was constructing the soundtrack for legendary director, screenwriter, producer, musician, photographer David Lynch‘s “Lost Highway” in 1997.Reznor’s construction of the Lost Highway soundtrack was strongly based on the works of Angelo Badalamenti, an American composer who has always worked closely with David Lynch projects. “This Isn’t the Place” is most certainly again influenced by Badalamenti’s jazzy, dark style. Reznor’s vocals in the song are also quite different in comparison to even near-30 years of Nine Inch Nails. They would very easily find a home on a Portishead or Massive Attack(both trip-hop based bands) album. What is trip-hop? => In short, it is often described as a “fusion of hip-hop and electronica until neither genre is recognizable” (Source: Wikipedia). Though the article mentions additional elements of R&B, folk, etc … it fails to mention slower jazz, which I personally think is one of the strongest elements. However, it’s agreed that trip-hop is very experimental to the point of it being extremely hard to define, much like the industrial genre.
“Not Anymore” has a very abstract, remix-esque song structure. This links up that quality with the second half of the nearly twelve minute “The Background World”. The trailing second half very much taps into the Fixed (EP, Broken remixes, 1992) remixes. Deliberately high levels of overmodulation and equalized distortion. This may also remind some of certain portions of The Downward Spiral era. The first half of the song is slow paced, very sleek, calming, ….dare I say “cue the similar percussion to ‘Into The Void’? I especially like the segments of all strings, specifically violin and cellos.
Much as I anticipated, Add Violence isn’t a “sister-EP” to Not The Actual Events. It dives further, takes more unexpected turns and has a more focused sound. It’s almost like it’s deliberately showing progression and evolution, such as someone honing whatever skill they aim to perfect. Unless Reznor decides to part ways with the project (technically) known as Nine Inch Nails again and is more permanent in that decision, these more than suggest there are plenty more years of NIN to come for the many NIN fanatics…..well worth it.