Nine Inch Nails
And All That Could Have Been (Deluxe Audio Package)
Trent Reznor, the mastermind behind Nine Inch Nails, has cast a relentless assault on pop consciousness for more than a decade now, thanks to darkly compelling studio epics like The Downward Spiral and The Fragile.
But it's on stage where Reznor's cataclysmic visions have truly come to life. Now, for the first time, the anguish and anarchy of Nine Inch Nails' mind-blowing live shows have been turned into a spellbinding CD.
Disc 1 of this double disc chronicles NIN's “Fragility v2.0” U.S. tour of 2000, a 43-city jaunt that played to sold-out venues across the land. Disc 2, known as “Still,” features four “deconstructed” NIN live recordings as well as five new tracks, four of which are fascinating, frequently minimalistic instrumentals.
But there's nothing even remotely minimal about the first CD, which finds Reznor and his four bandmates delivering throttling variations of 16 tracks from the NIN songbook. It starts with a crushing “Terrible Lie,” which gets a steady jolt of Jerome Dillon's drum thunder, wrapping rings around layered keyboard and guitar crunch and Reznor's venom-drenched vocals.
While the intensity level shifts throughout the rest of the disc, everything is relative, and NIN's more subtle moments rate with the most maniacal that other bands could ever even fathom. But Reznor has always had a keen sense of dynamics, which surfaces frequently here, on cuts like “March of the Pigs” and “Gave Up.”
Melody may not be a word typically associated with Reznor, but there has always been a deep sense of melody simmering beneath the layers of aggression that he packs into his wall of sound. It rises to the surface here on the second disc, which features stark, piano backed selections like “Something I Can Never Have” and “The Day the World Went Away.” The “deconstruction” process is revealing, offering a new look at older songs, while Eno-esque instrumentals like “Gone, Still” and the quite beautiful “The Persistence of Loss” are fascinating for their ambient flavors.