August 23rd, 2013
With the highly anticipated release of Trent Reznor's new album "Hesitation Marks" right around the corner (you didn't really think NIN was done did you?), decided to back through the back catalog. And because everyone loves lists...here's my rankings! Feel Free to debate!
Note: I decideded to leave out all Soundtracks (Lost Highway, Social Network, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), as well as all but 1 EP.
8) THE SLIP:
It's real hard to complain about this album. IT'S FREE! The ultimate thank you to the fans. Originally scheduled as an EP, that evolved over the course of only three weeks, just a "here's what I got, enjoy." "Discipline" arguably stands as NIN's most danceable tune, and "Echoplex" and "Demon Seed" probably fall in a Top 20 list. But it's not an album I find myself going back to. Still....it's worth a listen and can't argue with the price!
7) WITH TEETH
Or as I like to refer to it, Trent Reznor is looking for a hit single. After 6 years away, and disappointing sales for "The Fragile," I view this album as Trent trying to figure out his place in the music scene. Front loaded with songs designed for radio play, the truly moody, interesting stuff kicks in on the back half. Certainly some great tracks ("Only" "You Know What You Are" "Beside You In Time"), it's more a collection of songs than a cohesive package Trent's known for. Still, any album with Dave Grohl on drums can't be bad!
6) GHOSTS I-IV
First thing's first, 75% of this album is absolutley brilliant. It's perfect mood music. But at the end of the day, it's an instrumental. It's background music. And therefore lands here on the list.
If you need to throw things at the wall, or smash every item in your house, THIS IS THE ALBUM FOR YOU. Recorded in secret due to legal battles with his record label, this album is load, violent, abrasive, and a bunch of other words that mean the same thing. It's Trent's rage against the system. And the system rewarded him with his only Grammy's for it. Well played. And good lord, don't watch the Broken movie if you want to sleep tonight. If this were a full album and not an EP, it might challenge for number 1.
4) PRETTY HATE MACHINE
Back where it all began, the ultimate solo record (Trent did it all himself). You know the songs. "Head Like A Hole," "Sin," "Terrible Lie," "Down In It," "Sanctified." A great starting point, and would provide some of the themes Trent would use later on in more depth. Not his strongest effort (Side B is not nearly as strong), but a great starting point.
3) YEAR ZERO
I know a lot of people who disagree with me on this one. I get it. Released at a time with so many more "politically" charged albums, I view this as Trent getting his mojo back. Back was the storytelling (Seriously, check out the "alternate reality game"), the broad themes, and ALIENS! "The Good Soldier" makes my Top 5 list, "Survivalism" remains a crowd favorite, and a very moody, computer glitchy heavy vibe creates for an epic experience.
2) THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL
If you put this #1 I won't disagree with you. The epic tale of a man stripping everything away and hating himself for it, with the most unlikely hit single ever, there's no filler on this album. "A Warm Place" Still might rank as my favorite instrumental for the man, "Hurt" is the defining NIN track, the list goes on and on. Enjoy.
1) THE FRAGILE
The ultimate "grower." This album was hated by many upon release (Pitchfork gave it a 2.0), it's stands as NIN's biggest commercial disappointment. Yet as Reznor has stated in interviews, it tends to be the fan favorite. It's arguably Trent's most personal alubm, as it details his battle with depression, something I've related with. This is a DARK album. Too dark. But beautiful at the same time. It's vast, uncompromising, and at times very hard to follow. This is the same tale and themes as TDS, but with a different outcome. It's easier to be the Big Man With a Gun. It's scarier to take a long hard look in the mirror at yourself. This isn't an album of it's. It's a statement. Get lost in it.