Nine Inch Nails
The Downward Spiral


5.0
classic

Review

by Kaden USER (7 Reviews)
January 14th, 2005 | 74 replies


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist


Allright Bartender, finally got this, here's your review, in return for that Lateralus review:

1. Mr. Self Destruct: Starts off with rhythmic gunshots, before bursting into the music with a synth part. Right then, you know what you're in for, as this is pretty indicative of the overrall mood of the album. The lyrics aren't as well done as some other tracks, but still pretty good. I usually skip the song, as it doesn't offer much variety and just strikes me as kind of uninteresting.
2/5

2. Piggy: This is a slow track, the bass provides pretty much the whole melody, with Trent's voice doing steady vocals. He's singing to a pig here LOLZ. I really enjoy the song, very minimalistic, and the chorus is especially good ("Nothing can stop me now, cause I don't care anymore"). It provides a refreshing change from the dark, angsty hell that is most of this album.
4/5

3. Heresy: Reznor's vocals are crazy in this song. He sings in a high falsetto (think The Darkness). The lyrics are about him rejecting religion, and it's definitely very hateful and anti-christian (Your god is dead, and no one cares. If there is a hell, I'll meet you there.) This song has 80's-esque synth parts, but it somehow complements the music. Good stuff, I enjoy this song.
4/5

4. March of the Pigs: Man, he's got a thing for pigs, doesn't he? This song is almost completely driven by the drums, with a repeating guitar riff. Honestly, the whole thing feels like you're being shoved along, because it's got a forceful, heavy, driving feel to it. During this part, Reznor yells/semi-screams the vocals. About halfway through the song, there's a short break for piano and clean vocals. The heavy part then repeats, and at the very end there's a longer part with piano and clean vocals. Very pessimistic lyrics. A great song.
4/5

5. Closer: I think we all know this hit single. I really love the song, to me it's one of the high points on the album. The lyrics are all about lust ("I wanna **** you like an animal") but I see it as more than just a mindless lusting song. I think it's more of a really cynical love song; like really dark demented emo or something. The pre-chorus seems uncharacteristically funky, and I must say this song just drips sex. Not just the lyrics either, the music (With its steady beat and fluid bass) just sounds sexual. Amazing song, probably in my top twenty songs of all time.
5/5

6. Ruiner: Confession time: I'm reviewing this album completely from memory, and I can't think of how this song sounds right now, and the album is about 20 feet away from me, and I'm too comfortable in this nice chair to go get it. So, since I have forgotten the song, I'll just assume it's forgettable.
1.5/5

7. The Becoming: OH YEAH. This song is awesome! I love love love the lyrics, so angsty yet so good. It has a weird sounding piano part, and people are screaming in the background (For some reason, I always picture that they're locked in a burning barn, these are truly screams of terror). The song has an awesome acoustic break in it, but for the most part, it's uptempo and dark, and evil-sounding. Can't forget evil-sounding. Plus, at the end he does this awesome thing where he takes about four lines and repeats them over and over as it gets more and more intense and tension is building and you know the end is coming but you can't see where and when it ends....it's amazing. The lines are "It won't give up, it wants me dead, god**** this noise inside my head".
5/5

8. I do Not Want This: Has a very memorable piano part to it. It's basically an ascending line that is repeated throughout the song, with slight variations. The lyrics are so angsty I can't believe it, this is the one point on the album where it seems a bit contrived. However, the song has a cool piano part, and a cool drum part, so the awesome music makes up for subpar lyrics. And at the end, he does the repeating line/tension building thing again! This time, the lines are "I want to know everything, I want to be everywhere, I want to **** everyone in the world, I want to do something that matters".
4/5

9. Big Man with a Gun: Hated it at first, but it's grown on me. This is the shortest song on the album. It doesn't have much substance, it's short fast and harsh. The lyrics seem to be about raping a girl, or something. A good song I'd say.
3/5

10. A Warm Place: Instrumental, more of an ambience track than anything. In my opinion, this is where Reznor really shines, and it shows the overall mood of the whole album. Very desolate and depressing sounding, with lots of interesting synth work and a puling drum beat. It's almost a trance track. Good stuff here.
4.5/5

11. Eraser: At the beginning there's a saxophone sound, only it's not notes, it's more of a person blowing through the reed without playing anything. Hard to explain, but it sets up the rhythm for the rest of the song. After a while, a very memorable, catchy drumbeat comes in, playing a different rhythm that complements that of the saxophone. Then come the ever-present synths, then....the guitar. Wow. This guitar part blows my mind. So creepy, so amazing, I can't believe that I'm not about to have my throat slit by a stranger when I hear it. Anyway, all the instruments repeat short, creepy sounding parts for a long time, and it builds up and up with no vocals, getting heavier and heavier. At around three minutes, instruments drop out and vocals come in, singing lyrics about how he used a girl for sex. At first, the music is calm, and the lyrics are about the situation's effects on the girl ("Use you, scar you, break you"). Then, the music bursts into heaviness, and it's about the effects on him ("Hate me, smash me, erase me, kill me") More of a mood piece than anything, I adore this song.
5/5

12. Reptile: It's about a prostitute. The lyrics might seem nasty at first ("She spreads herself wide open, to let the insects in") but I love them. They're so dark and so...I dunno. The song is driven by another catchy, amazing drumbeat. During the second chorus, there's an amazing guitar part that sends shivers down my spine. Seriously, this song is so dark. Did I mention, I LOVE the lyrics? Many great lines in this song, like "Angels bleed from the tainted touch of my caress. Need to contaminate, to alleviate, this loneliness". Oh, I'm loving every second of it.
5/5

13. The Downward Spiral: Not the kind of thing I'd want to skip tracks to get to, it really looks back on all the musical themes in the album (specifically the end of Closer), and about halfway through the instruments get really hazy in the background, and Reznor whispers about a guy comitting suicide. Very surreal, an amazing song.
5/5

14. Hurt: We all know Hurt, thanks to a Mr. Johnny Cash (RIP). The lyrics sound like a guy looking back on a depressed, wasted life. This song has a lonely guitar part and quiet, depressing lyrics. It makes me feel so sad, I can't listen to this song very much or it'll ruin my mood. However, by the same token, it's an absolutely perfect end to the album. At the end, there's a brief burst of heaviness (Just a few distorted guitar chords), then silence. The album's opener may not have been so great, but it ends absolutely perfectly, I couldn't have asked for more.
5/5

All in all, an amazing album. Definitely gets a 5/5 from me, good stuff.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
robnathanson
November 25th 2003


93 Comments


Originally posted by Kaden

5. Closer: I think we all know this hit single. I really love the song, to me it's one of the high points on the album. Does anyone know what he does to get that wawa sound? That's not a guitar, is it?
5/5

Could someone clear something up for me? Is Trent Reznor the only member of NIN?





It's probably a synthesizer or keyboard


Trent Reznor is the only member of NIN. He creates all the music, and releases it himself. He has a touring band, but they only play live. not in tyhe studio.



Great review. I have Further down the spiral, and (I'm told) it's not that great ocmpared to this one, so I may pick it up.

Bartender
Emeritus
November 26th 2003


826 Comments


Nice review - I think the only thing I would disagree with would be Big Man with a Gun. I think its a good track (not one of the best one the album) - I like the lyrics mostly, kinda like the mindless masculine aggression he expresses. Still, thanks.

5/5

mynameisroger
December 2nd 2003


3 Comments


Um, the only thing I would say is that you missed an opportunity to talk about what each track represents... I've read that the album is supposed to be a step by step tour of a character going through depression, you didn't really talk about what each song could represent. Heresy for example, you said you didn't like the lyrics, but it's supposed to be, as I understand it, about the character rejecting religion, as a step in the spiral...

Other than that it was okay, 4/5. I was hoping for a little more depth.

hafez
December 2nd 2003


7 Comments


i love this album and i disagree with your score on many tracks. i didn't much like piggy, but i did like big man with a gun a lot. but to each his own.

hafez
December 2nd 2003


7 Comments


Originally posted by mynameisroger
Um, the only thing I would say is that you missed an opportunity to talk about what each track represents... I've read that the album is supposed to be a step by step tour of a character going through depression, you didn't really talk about what each song could represent. Heresy for example, you said you didn't like the lyrics, but it's supposed to be, as I understand it, about the character rejecting religion, as a step in the spiral...

Other than that it was okay, 4/5. I was hoping for a little more depth.


i'd never heard anything about the tracks representing parts of depression, but now that i think of it, it makes sense.

ExitWound
December 2nd 2003


40 Comments


It's supposed to parallel the development of a suicide victim, first derpression, loss of loved ones in his own mind, eventual suicide, then wishing he had another chance after looking back on it. Amazing disc. I have it on vinyl.

mynameisroger
December 17th 2003


3 Comments


See, the only reason I didn't say it was about a suicide case was because they leave it open... you aren't supposed to know whether he kills himself or not, you get to make up your own mind... at least according to what I've read.

wheelz
December 17th 2003


60 Comments


...either way it's a great cd, one of my all time faves.

Bartender
Emeritus
December 17th 2003


826 Comments


[QUOTE=mynameisroger] you get to make up your own mind... at least according to what I've read.[/QUOTE]

:lol:

I never thought of it as a story of depression, just a collection of songs about depression in general...but looking at it that way, Hurt is even better than before.

Kaden
December 17th 2003


222 Comments


Yeah, that gives the cd awesome depth...thanks for the info:thumb:

mynameisroger
December 18th 2003


3 Comments


yeah, it's probably one of the best records as a whole of our era... I think anyway. Um, to elaborate, in conversations I've had about the album, this is what we've come up with...
1. Self Destruct is like a table of contents of sorts
2. Piggy is rejection of friends/family
3. Heresy is rejection of religion
4. March of the Pigs is rejection of societal conventions, authority, what have you
5. Closer is about using sex as a method of trying to heal, make things right again
6. Ruiner is sort of like the depression taking over him... making everything in his life impure
7. The Becoming is the realization of what is happening
8. I Do Not Want This... self explanatory... trying to save himself, bring himself out of it
9. Big Man with a Gun... yeah, we never had anything for that one... it sort of doesn't fit... if any of you guys care to make suggestions, that'd be great
10. A Warm Place is like the last peaceful moment, we thought it was the character sort of transcending his condition to share one more moment with someone close to him... but with the knowledge that when that moment ends, nothing will have changed
11. Eraser is the end of the relationship with the significant other... wife, girfriend, whatever
12. Reptile is a last ditch effort at sexual healing through prostitution
13. Downward Spiral is the approach to the final moment... the contemplation I suppose
14. Hurt is the final moment, the character has his finger on the trigger... but like I said, it doesn't tell you what happens... the song really even ends on a note of hope... "i would keep myself/i would find a way"

So that's what a friend and I thought about it. Great album.

Bartender
Emeritus
December 18th 2003


826 Comments


[QUOTE=mynameisroger]
9. Big Man with a Gun... yeah, we never had anything for that one... it sort of doesn't fit... if any of you guys care to make suggestions, that'd be great

13. Downward Spiral is the approach to the final moment... the contemplation I suppose

14. Hurt is the final moment, the character has his finger on the trigger... but like I said, it doesn't tell you what happens... the song really even ends on a note of hope... "i would keep myself/i would find a way"

[/QUOTE]

I thought of Downward Spiral as the actual suicide, and then Hurt as his spirit/soul/memory or whatever looking back and thinking "you know, this wasn't worth it. If i could do it again, I carry on" kind of thing.

I also thought Big Man With a Gun was probably a progression from Closer - having failed with sexual healing, he tries to purge himself of his depression by being a jerk to everyone - maybe trying to distract himself from his won problems, or trying to bring people down with him by giving them problems of their own.

EDIT: just thought, maybe Big Man... is even more a progression from Closer; it could be about a rape/attempted rape, or more violent sexual activity ("Held against your forehead/I'll make you suck it" etc)...

Personally I think its more likely just about him trying to assert his authority over people in general, by being a dick. Anyway, thanks for shedding a bit of light on the songs I didn't have much idea about.

craigmac
January 1st 2004


18 Comments


Take from the FAQ on www.nineinchnails.net

A:4 "Is nine inch nails really only one person?"

Every nine inch nails album to date has been the work of Trent Reznor and
his assistants. Trent incorporates the help of other artists (see album
credits for listing) but has always had total control over his albums.

Live NIN is an entirely different matter. For the first Lollapalooza
tour, Trent supported himself with a very real band, including the late
Jeff Ward from Lard on drums, Chris Vrenna on drums, Richard Patrick on
guitar, and James Woolley on keyboard. Woolley also toured with the live
band during the Self Destruct and Further Down the Spiral tours. The live
NIN lineup changes a lot. At one point it included Martin Atkins; at
another point, in the early days of the band in Cleveland, apparently it
was just Trent, Richard Patrick, and Chris Vrenna. Also, a fellow by the
name of Lee Mars played live keyboards for a while.

As of the fall of 1997, the NIN lineup appears to be Trent Reznor, Charlie
Clouser, and Danny Lohner, with the possibility of a few other new people
that have been working on programming. Robin Fink left the band a while
back, and Chris Vrenna has gone on his own to work on other projects.


ever since i read the first post of this thread, ive been researching about weither NIN is just trent or not. well here we go.

LOVE ME

MxShredder
January 1st 2004


58 Comments


[QUOTE=mynameisroger]14. Hurt is the final moment, the character has his finger on the trigger... but like I said, it doesn't tell you what happens... the song really even ends on a note of hope... "i would keep myself/i would find a way"[/QUOTE]

Im pretty sure the suicide takes place, those three really ugly sounding really loud chords that come out of nowhere probably indicate the suicide, the long drawn out 2 or so minutes are probably the dying process

talk show host
January 2nd 2004


18 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I read that the lyrics in Hurt were supposed to be the words of a suicide note...

Good review, and a great cd.

OrbDragon
January 2nd 2004


152 Comments


I don't like many of the songs on DS...with exception of Hurt and A Warm Place...The Fragile was a way better effort by Trent. But many disagree though

Blue Collar Tweeker
January 8th 2004


24 Comments


^^^The Fragile is a great album, but IMO Downward Spiral is right up there with it. And the song "The Downward Spiral" is definately the suicide, check out the lyrics.

"he couldnt believe how easy it was
he put the gun into his face
bang!
so much blood for such a tiny little hole"

That spells it out.

Bartender
Emeritus
January 8th 2004


826 Comments


[QUOTE=Blue Collar Tweeker]^^^The Fragile is a great album, but IMO Downward Spiral is right up there with it. And the song "The Downward Spiral" is definately the suicide, check out the lyrics.

"he couldnt believe how easy it was
he put the gun into his face
bang!
so much blood for such a tiny little hole"

That spells it out.[/QUOTE]

Thats definitely what gave me the idea.

Would anyone like to do a Fragile review? I started one a while ago but felt I couldn't say something good enough about each song to make it worthwhile, so I'd like to see someone who'd be more confident in doing a review to do one.

Kaden
January 25th 2004


222 Comments


[QUOTE=Blue Collar Tweeker]^^^The Fragile is a great album, but IMO Downward Spiral is right up there with it. And the song "The Downward Spiral" is definately the suicide, check out the lyrics.

"he couldnt believe how easy it was
he put the gun into his face
bang!
so much blood for such a tiny little hole"

That spells it out.[/QUOTE]
I think that's him imagining what it would be like. Notice that it's in third person, except for the phrase "Deepest shade of mushroom blue, spilling out of my head". The fact that it says he put the gun up to his face etc. shows me that it's not really happening as Reznor tells the story.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
June 5th 2004


2125 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I saw this for $3 used. I'll get it soon. The lyrics seem pretty graphic, are they?



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