Review: Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks
Published on September 9th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Listening to the new Nine Inch Nails album Hesitation Marks, it’s amusing to think of them frightening Biffy Clyro fans half to death at Reading festival. Trent Reznor no long even needs to unleash the fury to make his portentous majesty known; not when he can let his beats do the work.
Legions of unworthy imitators are put to the sword, even if unintentionally, by Reznor’s mantra-like recitation of “I am just a copy of a copy of a copy / Everything I say has come before” on “Copy of A”, a squelching, bleeping rush of industrial aceness indicative of the sensory thrills to come.
Hesitation Marks is, er, marked by a succession of busy electronic rhythm sections that massage and nourish your mind no matter how punishing things get, all popping and clicking away like some darkside bubbleworks of interstellar architecture.
Wonky synths and grinding bass tee up one mean-ass guitar riff on “Came Back Haunted”, a ghostly string motif in turn haunts “Disappointed”, a wrong-footing array of twinkles rain down upon the formidable authority of “All Time Low”, and it all makes so much sense as to drag you into its realm with the unspoken promise that it will, in its own time, deposit you safely back out the other side.
Even when a little light is let in, as on the vocal harmonies (!) of “Everything”, it’s still quite pulverising. In fact, “Everything” represents Reznor’s most energised performance on Hesitation Marks, the whole track swelling up and falling out in a virtuoso display of dynamic mastery.
Although a classic Nine Inch Nails title, “Various Methods of Escape” is probably the most straightforward and predictable number here. Not too much harm done though, mind, since it’s followed by the whirring, bumping, seething oddness of “Running”, which lets loose with a barking guitar solo that might not actually be a guitar at all. Some kind of parping synth, perhaps?
As a display of contrasts, “While I’m Still Here” is exemplary: an otherworldly transmission with a sticky rhythm section and a warmly humming melodic topsoil, it takes on huffing baritone sax and leads us into the aptly titled waters of “Black Noise”.
Trent Reznor’s still got a considerable amount of game, but Biffy Clyro fans should probably keep their distance lest their bedroom walls become decorated with their own exploded brain matter.
Hesitation Marks is out now on Null Corporation.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!