This album sits comfortably in my top five. It is two discs of oppressive perfection. It somehow retains the depressive anecdotes of all things in the darker side of the world without sounding like it was written by a 14-year-old who got dumped.
I think my favourite part is how it jumps from mood to mood. It starts with the hellish “Somewhat Damaged” where Trent Reznor reminds us how it is possible to be destroyed and still have teeth to bite, then transfers to “The Day The World Went Away” where he cries about how everything is broken and horrible. I know that, on paper, it doesn’t sound like the dichotomy I praised the album for is apparent, but it goes from machine-based rhythm to having no precussion in the traditional sense. Track two relies on the hits of the bass string to relay the points drums would in most other songs. It keeps the song incredibly heavy, but makes it more so on an emotional level as opposed to instrumental.
The album keeps going back and forth on these two kinds of songs. They are either peaceful/almost classical; with precussion taking a back seat. Or they are very mechanical and abbrasive.
Two songs stick out from the fray. “Just Like You Imagined” builds and builds using the most intense drums in a loop. It remains organic feeling, but creates a tension that can only be found elsewhere accompanied by some sort of visual. Somehow, this song is as intense as a movie.
The other outlier is my personal favourite in the compelation: “La Mer” is one of the most beautifully composed pieces ever. Or, at least, I think it is. It is just a simple piano line that slowly gets more complicated as time moves on. The drums kick in shortly after two lines are recited in French. I have refused to translate it in all my years being in love with this song for fear of it ruining my illusion.
The best part: that’s all disk one. Disk two is much more angry. The closest it gets to being uplifting (or, as uplifting as Nine Inch Nails can be) is the song “Into the Void” where the lyrical content is just as happy as the name of the song. At least it has a danceable beat?
This album is very hard to find a track to best encapsulate the entire collection. I would direct attention to La Mer or Just Like You Imagined, but those songs stand out BECAUSE they are so different from everything else. So, I think I will put the song “I’m Looking Forward To Joining You, Finally” because OF COURSE I WOULD.
Seriously, this has been the hardest album to write about. Two reasons; I love every second of it, and it contains so many brilliant examples of what someone can do with the art of music. I beg that you look into this album yourself. Even if you don’t care for the song I singled out, there is something you will love somewhere on this album.