Reznor came back haunting. Honestly, it was just a matter of time to see Reznor resurrecting the good old Nine Inch Nails trademark and starting all over. Although I was cool with How to Destroy Angels, it was predictable that his fresh start had not the same impact and resonance as the Nine Inch Nails name had, have and will have. Although, “Welcome Oblivion” was a fair, exciting, mature Reznor album and “Hesitation Marks” are picking up from where both Nine Inch Nails with “The Slip” (2008) and How to Destroy Angels left off. Some people need to hang on to labels, to stick to established trademarks, so be it! Nine Inch Nails are back, long live How to Destroy Angels! Or any other way around! 😆
Anyway, if Reznor switched back to NIN only because this trademark assure a bigger commercial success then the use of the less known How to Destroy Angels, that says a lot about us, the audience, consumers, whatever, and not at least the media and the industry, rather then anything about Reznor and the music itself.
Still, there are lot of arguing and debating about Reznor’s contribution, his legacy and how relevant it is what he’s doing lately. Well, no offense, but Skrillex and all the alikes will parish in a few months/years (fortunately, some already did!), while Reznor definitively have something to leave behind, at least a couple of fabulous albums and several unforgettable songs. Industrial or not, it’s another issue, I think it’s totally pointless. This is simply contemporary music. Period. And there was always a sensitive difference between the Nine Inch Nails studio albums and the Nine Inch Nails live performances, I always loved both, but the live performances always were murderous. And it’s not different this time around, check out 2013-07-26 Niigata, Japan, Fuji Rocks Festival performance and you will be nailed. Literally.
“Hesitation Marks” will be out on September 3rd. Just one day after my birthday, so, this is almost like dedicated to me.
“Copy of A” is a minimalist, rhythm based track with smooth shifts of tonality and vibrancy. It’s more like a painting on the waves of sound with a clever build-up and a killer groove. We all know “Came Back Haunted” from the Soundcloud, it’s a nice re-rendering of the late NIN sound into a perspective. David Lynch filmed and directed a quite minimalist video for this, which actually fits perfectly the vibe and the concept of the whole album. Black and white and red all over. Simple, but pulsating.
“Find My Way” is definitively much more interesting. The rhythmic build-up is criminal and the smooth texture and clever arrangement it’s simply beautiful. Some will say that this is not revolutionary or there are no drops and wobbling. I think Reznor do not need those artifacts to prove anything, he simply write and performed a couple of songs. He’s much more alive then most of the loud and contorted artist pretending they are furious, revolutionary and full of
“All Time Low” raise the level of the tension and step further into the dark exploration of the sound. Once again, feels more like a painting, rather then a song in its classical meaning, although the grooves, the rhythmic and the minimal, but smooth textures are revealing unexpected depths.
“Disappointed” it’s the perfect blending of the NIN vibe with the How to Destroy Angels colors and flavor. It’s fever burned, contorted, but less violent and explosive as some of the classy NIN anthems. Once again, the rhythmic construction is completely insane and Reznor and his partners created a spectacular tension and vibe.
“Everything” bring to the surface some brighter shades of the music, almost feels like a new wave track from the 80’s, but almost simultaneously Reznor bring in some sick, twisted off guitar riffs and dissonances. Cool mixture of sing-a-long vocals, rock rooted pounding drums and structures and a solid wall of noise.
“Satellite” is a return of the previous, experimental, but minimal and mainly rhythm based sound and exploration. Simple, but actually very impressive. Small, subtle elements and details gave to these songs a special dimension. More you listen into it, more you will find exciting elements, this is almost like a big puzzle of sounds and emotions and you have to find and put together your own rendering of it.
“Various Methods of Escape” revels another guitar riff buried into the mysterious, blue colored vibe of an experimental trip build upon a beat and the floating sound. Nice blending of elements and flavors, Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Alan Moulder are at the top of their game and all the experiments of the How to Destroy Angels project and movie soundtracks now are capitalized here.
“Running” is build upon a clap track and several other rhythmic elements. Odd, but wonderful!
“I Would for You” have the vibration of the late NIN tracks and the texture of the recent How to Destroy Angels songs, so, it might be considered the perfect compromise and blending of directions and sounds. How to Destroy Nails? 🙂 Actually, this is more like searching and constructing.
“In Two” have the tension and something from the aggression of the NIN, feels more industrial then the rest of the album, or at least post-industrial. I would bear a few more tracks like this!! Love the quiet breakdown and then the re-build.
“While I’m Still Here” is a very minimal, but not less tasty construction. Once again the rhythm plays the central role in this soundscape, but all the subtle, flowing elements are smoothly incorporated. Kind of classic Reznor although sound different.
“Black Noise” is “just” a noise fueled addition to the previous track and kind of the period at the end of the album.
01) “The Eater of Dreams”
02) “Copy of A”
03) “Came Back Haunted”
04) “Find My Way”
05) “All Time Low”
09) “Various Methods of Escape”
11) “I Would for You”
12) “In Two”
13) “While I’m Still Here”
14) “Black Noise”
Produced by: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Alan Moulder
Mixed by: Alan Moulder
Mastered by: Tom Baker
Artwork by: Russell Mills
Art Direction by: Rob Sheridan
Some interesting technical insight about the album.
Hesitation Marks was mastered in two different ways – the standard, “loud” mastering (which is what you’ll find on the CD, on iTunes, and everywhere else), and also an alternate “audiophile” mastering, which we’re offering as a free download option for anyone who purchases the album through nin.com. For the majority of people, the standard version will be preferable and differences will be difficult to detect. Audiophiles with high-end equipment and an understanding of the mastering process might prefer the alternate version.
Alan Moulder, who mixed the album, offers a more detailed explanation:
When we were mixing Hesitation Marks we decided to treat the mastering process in a slightly different way to the usual. Since we had tried to treat every other aspect of making this record differently to how we were used to, it seemed to make sense. We were mixing as we went along with the production of each song rather than at the end, so we thought that once we had a song pretty close we would send it off to Tom Baker, our long time serving mastering engineer, to give it some mastering treatment. Normally you wait until the record is finished being recorded and mixed, then take all the mixes to mastering. But we thought doing it again, as we went along, might make us push the process further and spend more time on mastering rather than rush through it at the end. Whilst doing this we became aware of how much low bass information there was on the record. Since that can define how loud of a level the mastering can be, we were faced with a dilemma: do we keep the bass and and have a significantly lower level record, or do we sacrifice the bass for a more competitive level of volume? The biggest issue in mastering these days tends to be how loud can you make your record. It is a fact that when listening back-to-back, loud records will come across more impressively, although in the long run what you sacrifice for that level can be quality and fidelity. So after much discussion we decided to go with two versions. On the main release Tom did exceptional work to maintain the integrity of our mixes and reproduce the low end as much as possible and still get a decent level, although it’s still nowhere as loud as a lot of modern records. The Audiophile Mastered Version is more true to how the mixes sounded to us in the studio when we were working on the songs. Have a listen, turn up the volume and enjoy the experience!
Mastering Engineer Tom Baker adds:
I believe it was Trent’s idea to master the album two different ways, and to my knowledge it has never been done before.
The standard version is “loud” and more aggressive and has more of a bite or edge to the sound with a tighter low end.
The Audiophile Mastered Version highlights the mixes as they are without compromising the dynamics and low end, and not being concerned about how “loud” the album would be. The goal was to simply allow the mixes to retain the spatial relationship between instruments and the robust, grandiose sound.
It’s pretty obvious, Reznor tried to retreat, but staying home and being husband and daddy probably it’s not what he thought it would be and music is the perfect drug, can’t quit, it’s a lifetime addiction, so, he tried, he said good-bye, but he came back (haunted).
This is not another re-rendering of “The Downward Spiral”, nor “The Fragile”, not even of “With Teeth”, but another album by Reznor and his late partners in crime and sound exploration. I know each NIN album need time, several listening, extended exploration, but only after several listening I think this is a genuine Reznor album with several highlight moments and some bold experiments and probably listening more to it will reveals a few more surprises. Probably not the best NIN album, but definitively a step forward and a solid mile-stone to build upon. Reznor is still creative, digging into the future, visionary type of artist, no matter how much some want to bury him, write him down or whip him out.
Buy it, borrow it or steal it!!
Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks (2013) – buy your copy from iTunes