Nine Inch Nails
The Fragile


4.0
excellent

Review

by Edmund Blackadder USER (32 Reviews)
August 21st, 2009 | 15 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Trent Reznor creates a gorgeous, genre spanning album.

Nine Inch Nails
The Fragile
Nothing Records, 1999


With the industrial masterpiece The Downward Spiral Trent Reznor had hit musical gold, and sparked a revolution in industrial music, with bands such as Skinny Puppy and Killing Joke releasing their most powerful and inspired albums, all based off of The Downward Spiral 's musical template. Trent even started working as a producer with other artists, most notably Marilyn Manson, who would eventually grow to despise Reznor. Unfortunately, fame came with a price, and Trent found himself in his own metaphorical downward spiral, lost in a haze of drug addiction and health issues. Fortunately, he managed to pull himself out of this stupor, and decided to produce and create an album as a follow up to his prior works. He decided to name this album after the emotional state that he was in. In case you did not guess, he named it The Fragile ...

Containing a total of twenty three tracks, this album is undeniably a hefty listen. While many double albums eventually become a chore to listen through end-to-end, Trent Reznor's skillful production and execution of these twenty three songs make it quite possible to listen to this album all the way through without losing a spark of interest. The sheer variety of music found here is quite mind boggling. Sure, there are the standard industrial rockers ('Where Is Everybody' etc.), but these are interspersed with quieter, much more atmospheric sections as well as gorgeous piano sections and bizarre instrumentals ('La Mer'). Fans of any type of music will be able to listen to this album and find something to be enjoyed, whether it be loud or quiet, heavy or soft.

When describing The Fragile in comparison to other Nine Inch Nails works, I would place it directly between The Downward Spiral and Pretty Hate Machine . It still contains the anger and aggression of the former, but also manages to adapt some of the catchiness and near-techno beats of the latter. This mixed approach helps add to the musical variety, and provides more varied listening experiences. This album also allows Trent to practice composing more intricate, ambient sections as well as his wall-of-sound standard. Using dense guitar tones and eerie keyboard flourishes, many of the soundscapes created here manage to create a creepy, disturbing atmosphere. A prime example of this is 'Ripe (With Decay)', which uses very creepy guitar lines to establish dark imagery.

The one song that I could say describes this massive album perfectly is the seven minute epic 'We're In This Together'. Using dark lyrical imagery and a powerful, encompassing guitar-synth line, this truly acts as the main standout of the album. Trent's vocals here are rough and angst filled, sometimes going softer in the verses. Slowly the song manages to build in intensity, eventually awashing the listener in a wall of relentless sound. This sound slowly fades out into delicate, creepy piano chords that are nearly inaudible in an ambient haze. This is truly a magnificent song, and definitely the strongest song of the album.

My one qualm with The Fragile is with the lyrics. While they often manage to get their point across as being dark and depressing, they manage to come across as slightly over dramatic, and often become quite cliched. This is supposedly meant to be the narrative sequel to the storyline of The Downward Spiral , but this theory is very loosely supported by the lyrics, which all seem to move aimlessly in their sea of depressing imagery.

An excellent double album, The Fragile shows Trent evolving as both a composer and musician, managing to blend together the various styles utilized on his prior albums. Despite some rather weak lyrics, this album is still a near-masterpiece, and one that will rarely (if ever) leave my CD player.



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user ratings (1981)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Brent McCann (5)
    It's funny how everything you swore would never change is different now...

    thebigcumdown (4)
    Album that will keep you thirsty for more....

    TAnin (4.5)
    Would've been great as a single album. Second half needs some trimming, or just cutting al...

    Alex Beebe (1.5)
    “It didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, it didn’t turn out the way you wanted ...

  • megalomanic (5)
    Trent Reznor's masterpiece, wrongfully overshadowed by The Downward Spiral....

    Killerhit (4.5)
    And the sea will come to kiss me, for I am going home....

    Derek Marchewka (4.5)
    It’s the type of album where its problems upon first listen end up not being problems at...

    David Ham (4.5)
    A mixed bag really. The Left disc sports a fuller sound and a high standard while the Righ...

  • howdy123 (5)
    This album overall is one of Trent’s best works, musically, lyrically, and vocally. He ...

    Porter W. Richards (5)
    The most varied, atmospheric, and wild Nine Inch Nails release to date creates one of the ...

    ImAround (4)
    While this stunning double album comes with its flaws, the high points and the glimpses of...

    Killtacular (4)
    ...

  • OrbDragon (4.5)
    ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
shindip
August 21st 2009


3536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the summary sounds kinda retarded

Nagrarok
August 21st 2009


8260 Comments


had hit musical gold

That a recurring phrase of yours? Just noticed it in the Rush review as well.

A pos from me you get, although as you say, the summary is bleh.

shindip
August 21st 2009


3536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I will change it and yes, I love that phrase.

Titan50
August 21st 2009


4588 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Sounds like a 4.5, but pos'd otherwise

Nagrarok
August 21st 2009


8260 Comments


I'm sure I have a few recurring phrases in my reviews myself. I find myself writing something sometimes and remind myself I already did that a couple of times. Oh, and the last part about it never leaving your cd player, that is the most unncessary part of the review. Too personal = remove. Btw, I didn't know you were interested in the industrial stuff.

Titan50
August 21st 2009


4588 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Too personal = remove


idk, I like personal stuff in reviews. Channing's Devil And God review, eg

shindip
August 21st 2009


3536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Im not gonna take it out, but Ill try to keep stuff like that out of my future reviews. I just wanted to use it a sentence to end the review lol.

Nagrarok
August 21st 2009


8260 Comments


Just my opinion. A friend of mine who likes NiN says With Teeth is their best album, though Sputnik's general opinion would be TDW.

Titan50
August 21st 2009


4588 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Most people's would be TDW, although a lot say The Fragile as well. Someone I know says PHM is their best

Prophet178
August 21st 2009


6397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

With Teeth is easily NIN's worst.

Nagrarok
August 21st 2009


8260 Comments


Well, to each his own I guess then. I can't judge his opinion since I haven't heard any NiN myself.

thatguy84
August 21st 2009


214 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think this is NIN's best album. It's just so good, first disc especially.

EyesWideShut
August 21st 2009


3182 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The slip is NIN worst by far, with teeth was hated because it took Trent to long to create a more simple album compared to the fragile.

Titan50
August 22nd 2009


4588 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Well, to each his own I guess then. I can't judge his opinion since I haven't heard any NiN myself.


Listen to We're In This Together, that will probably make you find out if you like NIN or not

TrojanWhore
August 23rd 2009


752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I really like With Teeth but there are some filler tracks.

First two tracks and Only plus the last lot own hard though. Oh I do love this album - great review, pos



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