Nine Inch Nails

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2002

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Nine Inch Nails indeed manufactures the dark, twisted music that other artists collectively, ineffectively and most of all, pathetically attempt to recreate. The work shows talent and is loud. Not the kind of loud you get with the monotonous screaming and grotesque, repeated chords that has come to be known as "Metal". Nor the kind of talent that fills five minute solos with "I'm the best guitar player in the world so my music must be great." A different kind of loudness and talent: the messages so intricately combined with sound to such a degree of perfectionism, it comes to no surprise many interpret it as "The Saving of Rock". The music itself, saturated from the first second to the very last with countless hours of hard work and talent, is nothing short of a masterpiece. But this masterpiece of sound is so little of the whole picture; in order to fully appreciate the real art you must look deeper into the music, into the lyrics.

(Michael) Trent Reznor is Nine Inch Nails. His music contains such a superior vision than other music today because one of its strongest points is where other inferior artists music is at its weakest, originality. When you listen to a complete album of his you will not hear one song about love (R&B) , war (Metal), guns & drugs (Rap), or being a looser (Alternative). You will not hear nine other songs with the same message, worded differently to a slightly altered beat, filling the remaining space of the album. What you will hear is something that has such a strong, unique and meaningful message, it refuses to be forgotten.

Reznor knows when he has his final product and that it is impossible to create music with others. A few other artists have begun their roots with Nine Inch Nails, such as Richard Patrick from Filter and Brain Warner from Marylin Manson. They left his band because they felt he was not letting them have enough input into the music. Arrogance was not the cause, but rather the fact that very few other humans could ever have the same standards for satisfaction as Trent Reznor does. Each new piece of art he creates represents a new Halo, whether it simply is a single, or an entire two-disc collection. Major releases to this date are as followed: Date Album Title Label Halo# 10/20/1989 Pretty Hate Machine TVT Records 2 09/22/1992 Broken TVT / Interscope 5 03/08/1994 The Downward Spiral Nothing / TVT / Interscope 8 09/21/1999 The Fragile Nothing / Interscope 14 (The source for this information is from the albums themselves.) Although he finds it displeasing, his music is technically classified as industrial. The majority of it is done with a computer, which usually constitutes as remixing and distorting of sounds and instruments, all of which he plays. Judging from the Halo numbers you can see he often releases other bits of music in between albums usually remixes.

Trent considers his music to be simply an extension of certain aspects of his personality. Do not fall into the usual flock of ignorant sheep that views him as one who practices Satanism. While he admits to not being the happiest man alive he certainly is not considering killing himself, or trying to inspire anyone else to for that matter.

Many times over I have listened to all of his music. Granted you give it the time and thought to immerse you in his world, it can rip you into one mood directly to another in a matter of seconds "“ by the simple progression of one track to another. Reznor will use an instrumental like "A Warm Place" (The Downward Spiral) to show you how he can create something so clean and uplifting that makes you take in a deep breath and be thankful for every last thing you have. While songs like "Starfuckers Inc." (The Fragile) will put you at rage with all the "Sell Out" artists who effortlessly create popular, meaningless music. No one but Trent Reznor can know the true meaning behind his music, but I believe everyone can always get something out of it. "Hurt" (The Downward Spiral) is one most beautiful but at the same time the most depressing song you may hear from him.

(All lyrics taken directly from the information packaged with the album it was released on.) (Hurt) i hurt myself today to see if i still feel i focus on the pain the only thing that's real the needle tears a hole the old familiar sting try to kill it all away but i remember everything what have i become? my sweetest friend everyone i know goes away in the end you could have it all my empire of dirt i will let you down i will make you hurt i wear my crown of shit on my liar's chair full of broken thoughts i cannot repair beneath the stain of time the feeling disappears you are someone else i am still right here what have i become? my sweetest friend everyone i know goes away in the end you could have it all my empire of dirt i will let you down i will make you hurt if i could start again a million miles away i would keep myself i would find a way Another song like "Ring Finger" (Pretty Hate Machine) may make you smile, (or sick, depending on your sense of humor) as it represents the narrator being dominated by his wife.

(Ring Finger) well you've got me working so hard lately.

working my hands until they bleed.

if i was twice the man i could be.

i'd still be half of what you need.

still you lead me and i follow.

anything you ask you know i'll do.

this one act of consecration is what i ask of you promise carved in stone.

deeper than the sea.

sever flesh and bone and offer it to me you just leave me nailed here.

hanging like Jesus on this cross.

i'll be dying for your sins.

and aiding to the cause.

promise carved in stone.

deeper than the sea.

ringfinger.

sever flesh and bone and offer it to me wrap my eyes in bandages.

confessions i see through.

i get everything i want.

when i get part of you.

promise carved in stone.

is deeper than the sea.

sever flesh and bone and offer it to me.

a promise carved in stone.

deeper than the sea.

devil's flesh and bone.

do something for me i'm so tired i can't get to sleep.

and the squeaking of the bed is right in time with the song that's reapeating in my head.

i just want you to know "when i do it, i only think of you." Like the preceding samples, his work can have a very clear and definite meaning, while others like "March of the Pigs" (The Downward Spiral) can be interpreted in a broad variety of ways.

(March of the Pigs) Step right up, march, push Crawl right up on your knees Please, greed, feed, no time to hesitate I want a little bit, I want a piece of it, I think he's losing it I wanna watch it come down Don't like the look of it, don't like the taste of it, don't like the smell of it I wanna watch it come down All the pigs are all lined up I give you all that you want Take the skin and peel it back Now, doesn't it make you feel better? Shove it up inside, surprise, lies Stains, like the blood on your teeth Bite, chew, suck away the tender parts I wanna break it up, I wanna smash it up, I wanna fuck it up I wanna watch it come down Maybe he's afraid of it, let's discredit it, let's pick away at it I wanna watch it come down All the pigs are all lined up I give you all that you want Take the skin and peel it back Now, doesn't it make you feel better? The pigs have won tonight Now, they can all sleep soundly And everything is alright Upon my first reading of this I did not know what to think. Some believe it to be a relation to the world we live in: you must fight to get anywhere in life and care nothing if you step on someone else's toes. Others will say that the pigs are the press, that they will do anything to get just a piece of him, and when they finally pull his skin back, that is find out what they want to know about him, then they have discovered what they were so savagely searching for. Their thirst for his blood is now quenched, and they, in a since, have won.

The long pause between Halos earlier in his carrier is due to problems with his label at the time, TVT Records. It's rather tragic how something like greed from a record company would prevent him from producing his music. Then again "Gave Up" (Broken) was inspired by the events and lawsuits caused by TVT. He now has created his own label "Nothing" which is currently merged with Interscope. What I see as the best pieces of his work are Broken and The Downward Spiral. These darker versions of his music are perhaps caused by his childhood.

"Maybe my obsessive desire to find extremes has to do with growing up where nothing ever happened." - Trent Reznor The Downward Spiral as a whole tells a story of one contemplating suicide (hence the name) and the last song "Hurt" represents the final stages of the thought process. Nine Inch Nails (where the name comes from) are often used to seal a coffin shut, and while "Hurt" does seal the coffin, it is also relevant to see that the album addressed much more than just that. Although many thought this was the end of his carrier it was nothing more than a waypoint. Today he still continues on with his music, the latest of the Halos the totaling him up to 16 (Oct 24 2000). By this you can definitely see he is by no way nearing his retirement from music.

The messages are strong and the music fits them in such a way it produces something that is phenomenal. Give it time and a lot of thinking and you will notice just how many other weak, untalented and visionless, artist there are today. Only then you will see how one artist has grabbed Rock (as it is today) by the collar and pulled it out of its own piss and shit and restated it as something worthwhile.