SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

Nine Inch Nails’ new 2-disc SACD set

The Downward Spiral Deluxe Edition

Published on May 31, 2005

Nine Inch Nails’ new 2-disc SACD set
Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral Deluxe Edition; Universal b0003739-36 Hybrid Multichannel SACD **** (see below): 

The release of this 2-disc set coincides with the 10-year anniversary
of the release of The Downward Spiral.  To many fans of Trent
Reznor, this record has become a classic and aside from a few “hit”
songs that were played on the radio, there is a wealth of dark,
brooding, disturbing material on these discs.  From the start, the
best way to describe this record and the way it is has been remixed as
an audio assault rather than strictly a multichannel music
experience.  Every channel pelts the listener with sound creating
a sense of being confined and closed-in complete with hard grinding
sounds, sounds of being beaten and/or tortured, and general sounds of
terror.  The effects on “Closer” and “Mr. Self Destruct” are
almost uncomfortable on a good system played at a loud volume—and I’d
like to think that this is the intended effect.  Reznor is as
angry and degraded as ever on this record, but like the previous EP,
Closer, you can hear the progression from the more conventional Pretty
Hate Machine to this record.  Most fans would say that there will
never be another like The Downward Spiral and they may be right.

There will be those who will listen to 10 seconds of this album and
proclaim it “noise.”  The rating above is not directed at this
group.  There is so much going on here musically, that like many
artists in their day who were a bit ahead of their time, it is really
worth a further listen.  No doubt many listeners and artists will
be influenced by the style and sounds created throughout this
record.  Perhaps the music is an exercise in depravity,
degradation, or depression, but the ability to convey this emotion is
where the record succeeds.  The songs where melodic music provides
the backdrop are not only more listenable, but even more convincing in
their ability to blend the message and the medium of delivery.  Is
Reznor the torturer or the tortured?  While “Closer” (the big
radio hit) pumps away there is no escape from ideas like “[violent sex]
will bring [one] closer to God.”  “Hurt” is an example of a slower
tune that hints at vulnerability, yet it’s twisted too as Trent admits
that “[he] will make you hurt.”

The insert offers lyrics to material on both discs. 
Unfortunately, the second disc is not in surround.  The quality is
still very good, but it doesn’t have the same impact as the original
material.  Many of the tracks are available on EPs or soundtracks,
so true fans may already have the material.  “Closer (Precursor)”
is a cool, slow version that sounds like music from the movie
Se7en.  There are some stripped-down versions that focus more on
individual sounds in the mix rather than the integrated cacophony of
the originals.  This makes them interesting, but overall, less
satisfying.  The “Ruiner (demo)” is a worthy addition to the list
of tracks—it has such a weird feel to it that it is hard to
describe.  A lot of the other tracks are just filler. 
Whether you find this a work of art or music not worthy of your time is
dependent on your taste in music.  I wouldn’t recommend heavy
metal to a staunch classical listener, nor would a bubble-gum pop
listener be inclined to listen to classic blues.  If you are
interested in some new trends in the alternative genre or are looking
for a different experience, then check out this record—especially the
multichannel version!

Songs included are:  Disc 1 (Multichannel): Mr. Self Destruct;
Piggy; Heresy; March of the Pigs; Closer; Ruiner; The Becoming; I Do
Not Want This; Big Man With A Gun; A Warm Place; Eraser; Reptile; The
Downward Spiral; Hurt.  Disc 2 (remixes, b-sides, non-album
tracks—Stereo): Burn; Closer (Precursor); Piggy (Nothing Can Stop Me
Now); A Violent Fluid; Dead Souls; Hurt (Quiet); Closer To God; All The
Pigs, All Lined Up; Memorabilia; The Downward Spiral (The Bottom);
Ruiner (demo); Liar (Reptile demo); Heresy (demo).

- Brian Bloom




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