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Thread: Hesitation, Trilogy and now The Nine Inch Nails: Angles on angst

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    Hesitation, Trilogy and now The Nine Inch Nails: Angles on angst

    This past decade's been a crazy time to be into NIN, hasn't it?

    Recently I've been revisiting Hesitation Marks, and re-reading the initial thread here (along with the hilarious twenty pages of leak-begging that ensued) got me to start considering HM and the Trilogy as opposed to one another, and how they're both kind of a lens through which NIN examines its own past and the world surrounding it, and what that may imply for the near future.

    At this point, maybe that's old hat to some, but I found that when Hesitation Marks came out, I was so enraptured along with everyone else by the new Russell Mills artwork and the exciting notion that NIN would be re-examining the themes of their undisputed classic work through Trent's more experienced eyes, that when the album came out I feel like I didn't form an honest opinion of it on my own. It was so different to what anyone was expecting - which was probably exactly the point - I kinda went along with the herd and got swept up in enjoying it because it was so very different. It's been a while since then, and with the passage of years and multiple re-listens, I've come to reconsider my opinion of it as a good record with a few flaws (that I spin whenever I wanna feel kinda groovy). So when the Trilogy came out, aside from a few comments here and there, mostly after NTAE specifically was released, I kind of didn't take part in much discussion or hype and allowed the music and myself to form our own relationship. With the passage of time I still feel like NTAE is one of the best things NIN has ever put out. It continues to kick my ass on every level. Combine that with AV and BW, and you have an experience which, in my eyes, blows away some of NIN's classic work. I'm not going to get into rankings, but suffice it to say that even now I think the Trilogy's some of the absolute best under the NIN name.

    Which brings me to this: I was reading a Reddit thread yesterday (since deleted) called "In defense of Hesitation Marks", and people there were kind of putting it up on a pedestal while at the same time kind of deriding the recent EPs. I've always felt it's utter bullshit to surmise that with advancing years into an artist's career, loss of anger or rage needs to follow. I'm pushing forty, and while I may not be filled with the same kind of self-loathing and confusion I was in years past, I still find I'm not entirely comfortable in my own skin. Not only that, but with more global awareness, I also find that if anything, I'm more pissed off at the state of world affairs, whereas in my own youth I was politically apathetic. So it really irked me to see that some folks on the aforementioned thread were implying that the NTAE/AV/BW Trilogy was a result of "fake anger and aggression" or "an attempt to prove to the hardcores that Trent hadn't lost his edge after Hesitation Marks". At the time NIN put out HM, he'd said that he could have played it safe and made it an ugly record, but the brave thing to do seemed to go the opposite course. And he was right - it's still a really divisive album, from what I can ascertain.

    Now, whether or not the trilogy's overall harsher sound - barring the radio-friendly single of Less Than - was a direct reaction to the response to HM and its fallout is kinda beside the point to me. TR & AR went on record as saying they didn't care whether people liked NTAE or not. I think they're past worrying about what people think, but I've lately begun to wonder if the idea of presenting the albums as looking at things through different eyes might be a useful tool to both inform how things will sound, and to inform the listener that NIN shouldn't be confined to any one sound. That way, expectations of being at X or Y point in an artist's career and so sounding a specific way can be more easily subverted or sidestepped, to those who are paying attention.

    So...where am I going with this? Well:

    1) HM was an personal examination of self-destructive themes from the eyes of a more experienced TR, directly looking at his younger self. Its warmer, slicker sound was directly intended to contrast against that of TDS, in service of that concept.

    2) The trilogy examined a "what-if" scenario, which began as exploring the notion that NIN went on a completely different path, that TR perhaps never left New Orleans and remained an addict, only for it to widen its scope, to show that said life (or perhaps the life we find ourselves in) is a simulation, which concludes ambiguously, finding a lack of answers or meaning. Shadows on the cave wall. The albums' harsher tone was in service of those concepts; a possible alternate NIN that never entirely shook off its demons.

    3) With the release of Twin Peaks and especially Watchmen, we've found TR & AR toying with the concept of "The Nine Inch Nails" - another "alternate" version of the self, more formally established - the NIN experience with a radically different lineup.

    So there's a kind of a running theme lately of looking at one's environs through different lenses. I kind of want to see opinions if people are expecting, if anything, from the upcoming release along those lines. With Trent recently saying he's got a "giant pot of angst" ready to be turned into new music, I'm kind of wondering if we're going to see an actual release by TNIN through which to convey said angst. Thoughts?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadaloo View Post
    ... I kind of want to see opinions if people are expecting, if anything, from the upcoming release along those lines...
    No offense to Watchmen or Twin Peaks fans, but i think using "the nine inch nails" should not become anything other than easter egg.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadaloo View Post
    This past decade's been a crazy time to be into NIN, hasn't it?

    Recently I've been revisiting Hesitation Marks, and re-reading the initial thread here (along with the hilarious twenty pages of leak-begging that ensued) got me to start considering HM and the Trilogy as opposed to one another, and how they're both kind of a lens through which NIN examines its own past and the world surrounding it, and what that may imply for the near future.

    At this point, maybe that's old hat to some, but I found that when Hesitation Marks came out, I was so enraptured along with everyone else by the new Russell Mills artwork and the exciting notion that NIN would be re-examining the themes of their undisputed classic work through Trent's more experienced eyes, that when the album came out I feel like I didn't form an honest opinion of it on my own. It was so different to what anyone was expecting - which was probably exactly the point - I kinda went along with the herd and got swept up in enjoying it because it was so very different. It's been a while since then, and with the passage of years and multiple re-listens, I've come to reconsider my opinion of it as a good record with a few flaws (that I spin whenever I wanna feel kinda groovy). So when the Trilogy came out, aside from a few comments here and there, mostly after NTAE specifically was released, I kind of didn't take part in much discussion or hype and allowed the music and myself to form our own relationship. With the passage of time I still feel like NTAE is one of the best things NIN has ever put out. It continues to kick my ass on every level. Combine that with AV and BW, and you have an experience which, in my eyes, blows away some of NIN's classic work. I'm not going to get into rankings, but suffice it to say that even now I think the Trilogy's some of the absolute best under the NIN name.

    Which brings me to this: I was reading a Reddit thread yesterday (since deleted) called "In defense of Hesitation Marks", and people there were kind of putting it up on a pedestal while at the same time kind of deriding the recent EPs. I've always felt it's utter bullshit to surmise that with advancing years into an artist's career, loss of anger or rage needs to follow. I'm pushing forty, and while I may not be filled with the same kind of self-loathing and confusion I was in years past, I still find I'm not entirely comfortable in my own skin. Not only that, but with more global awareness, I also find that if anything, I'm more pissed off at the state of world affairs, whereas in my own youth I was politically apathetic. So it really irked me to see that some folks on the aforementioned thread were implying that the NTAE/AV/BW Trilogy was a result of "fake anger and aggression" or "an attempt to prove to the hardcores that Trent hadn't lost his edge after Hesitation Marks". At the time NIN put out HM, he'd said that he could have played it safe and made it an ugly record, but the brave thing to do seemed to go the opposite course. And he was right - it's still a really divisive album, from what I can ascertain.

    Now, whether or not the trilogy's overall harsher sound - barring the radio-friendly single of Less Than - was a direct reaction to the response to HM and its fallout is kinda beside the point to me. TR & AR went on record as saying they didn't care whether people liked NTAE or not. I think they're past worrying about what people think, but I've lately begun to wonder if the idea of presenting the albums as looking at things through different eyes might be a useful tool to both inform how things will sound, and to inform the listener that NIN shouldn't be confined to any one sound. That way, expectations of being at X or Y point in an artist's career and so sounding a specific way can be more easily subverted or sidestepped, to those who are paying attention.

    So...where am I going with this? Well:

    1) HM was an personal examination of self-destructive themes from the eyes of a more experienced TR, directly looking at his younger self. Its warmer, slicker sound was directly intended to contrast against that of TDS, in service of that concept.

    2) The trilogy examined a "what-if" scenario, which began as exploring the notion that NIN went on a completely different path, that TR perhaps never left New Orleans and remained an addict, only for it to widen its scope, to show that said life (or perhaps the life we find ourselves in) is a simulation, which concludes ambiguously, finding a lack of answers or meaning. Shadows on the cave wall. The albums' harsher tone was in service of those concepts; a possible alternate NIN that never entirely shook off its demons.

    3) With the release of Twin Peaks and especially Watchmen, we've found TR & AR toying with the concept of "The Nine Inch Nails" - another "alternate" version of the self, more formally established - the NIN experience with a radically different lineup.

    So there's a kind of a running theme lately of looking at one's environs through different lenses. I kind of want to see opinions if people are expecting, if anything, from the upcoming release along those lines. With Trent recently saying he's got a "giant pot of angst" ready to be turned into new music, I'm kind of wondering if we're going to see an actual release by TNIN through which to convey said angst. Thoughts?
    I'm all about this. Good analysis. Hopefully this sparks some good conversations.

    I think that HM was a branch on the NIN tree that would have continued to grow but was interrupted by the awful event of 2016. Things took a very dark turn and we will never know what could have been down that other road.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max View Post
    I think that HM was a branch on the NIN tree that would have continued to grow but was interrupted by the awful event of 2016. Things took a very dark turn and we will never know what could have been down that other road.
    What happened?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Krazy View Post
    What happened?
    2016 happened.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BRoswell View Post
    2016 happened.
    More specifically, November 8, 2016 happened.

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    Damn you guys are sounding apocalyptic about this Trump shit. It's gonna be alright. I like how all the NIN albums, everyone that has every been released, varies drastically, in both Sonic feel and lyrical content. Who knows what NIN would sound like if the political environment at the time hadn't spawned some of the themes explored in Year Zero and The Slip? Prior to that NIN seemed to, at least lyrically focus on the self and more internal type stuff.

    Deep thoughts

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    Quote Originally Posted by sonic_discord View Post
    More specifically, November 8, 2016 happened.
    2016 was ruined on January 10th.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tricil View Post
    2016 was ruined on January 10th.

    It sure was. The world lost a very important storyteller that day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadaloo View Post
    3) With the release of Twin Peaks and especially Watchmen, we've found TR & AR toying with the concept of "The Nine Inch Nails" - another "alternate" version of the self, more formally established - the NIN experience with a radically different lineup.
    Radically different how? It's Trent, Atticus, Robin, Mariqueen, and Joey Castillo. Joey's really the only member that hasn't been in any previous lineups unless you count Mariqueen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Triggermine View Post
    Radically different how? It's Trent, Atticus, Robin, Mariqueen, and Joey Castillo. Joey's really the only member that hasn't been in any previous lineups unless you count Mariqueen.
    That's Nine Inch Nails. We're talking about the fictional band The Nine Inch Nails.

    According to The Manhattan Project LP, The Nine Inch Nails' line-up consisted of Peter Christopherson, Peter Murphy, Trent Reznor, and Atticus Ross.

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    Quote Originally Posted by katara View Post
    That's Nine Inch Nails. We're talking about the fictional band The Nine Inch Nails.

    According to The Manhattan Project LP, The Nine Inch Nails' line-up consisted of Peter Christopherson, Peter Murphy, Trent Reznor, and Atticus Ross.
    Ah, okay. I was thinking it was The Nine Inch Nails on Twin Peaks. And, damn, that's quite a lineup!

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    Don't know why HM caught some of the flack it did. The album's a banger. It struck me musically as a modern day PHM only more mature and with improved sonic texture. Thematically the album seemed to speak on subjects of self reflection and honesty of persona. Not sure how this got translated as “happy NIN” by people. Sometimes when you stare into the abyss of self looking for truth, that's where you find the most crushing truths. Or maybe you gaze in only to find a void. Either way, how is that happy? This album was a way for the artist to frankly address who he was then, and who he is now. Even though musically HM might be considered a smooth ride in the discography, the way the album concluded with Black Noise felt like a notice that we shouldn't get too comfortable. The old rusty machine is still there under the surface, far from dead.


    The EP trilogy was/is great. The project hit me as a way for these guys to cut loose in the studio and explore whatever space they wanted as the thing evolved. This unfettered approach gave birth to some real top-shelf tracks. There are some great emotional peaks and valleys, and creative nods to David Bowie. Its funny looking back as this material was coming out, there were some very deep speculations from the fanbase of bizarre ARG stuff going on. Remember how people were trying to connect all kinds of dots to decode it? Doesn't seem like anything ever came of that.


    New NIN? Every release thus far feels to me like it has a unique reason to exist in the catalog. Nothing yet has felt perfunctory. As long as they feel like they have important and innovative material to explore, bring it.
    Last edited by Dr Channard; 02-09-2020 at 12:26 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SM Rollinger View Post
    Damn you guys are sounding apocalyptic about this Trump shit. It's gonna be alright. I like how all the NIN albums, everyone that has every been released, varies drastically, in both Sonic feel and lyrical content. Who knows what NIN would sound like if the political environment at the time hadn't spawned some of the themes explored in Year Zero and The Slip? Prior to that NIN seemed to, at least lyrically focus on the self and more internal type stuff.

    Deep thoughts
    Anyone who is not a white person knows why "it's going to be alright" is already not true. You know, we have kids in literal concentration camps who were taken from their parents. That's about as not alright as it gets. And with a maniac driving the car now, the rest of us are in for ANYTHING. There aren't any checks. There aren't any rails. There isn't a grown-up in the room saying, "don't push that button" anymore.

    It's cool to be chill, except when the house is on fire. When you are chillin as it all burns down around you, that means something is deeply fucked in your head.

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