Review Summary: NIN finally release a completely average album.
Nine Inch Nails
Interscope/Nothing Records, 2005
As much as I hate to say it, drugs and alcohol have inspired a vast amount of great musicians over the past sixty years. Albums that have garnered much critical and commercial success have often been conceived under incredible amounts of intoxication. Do you think Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band
would have been created without the help of inumerable hallucinogenic? For all you metalheads, do you think that Rust In Peace
and Master Of Puppets
would have been that same without innumerable narcotics added into the mix (as well as an angry Dave Mustaine)???. In fact, it is an undeniable truth that many of the artistic achievements of the modern world have been conceived under copious amounts of illegal substances. With Nine Inch Nails, this is no different. The industrial concept album The Downward Spiral
, often hailed as one of the greatest albums of the 90s, was crafted amongst large piles of cocaine. Likewise, the epic double album The Fragile
was inspired through the wavering haze of a serious alcoholic.
But what happens when the artist manages to go sober, and turn their back on the drugs that had invaded their lives? Often, this may lead to their undoing in the music business. With Trent Reznor, sole member of Nine Inch Nails, his going cold turkey almost lead to his musical destruction. After leaving his distorted world of drugs, Trent decided to create an album that attempted to recapture the pain he went through during his addiction. He named this album With Teeth
. Collaborating alongside Alan Moullder, a fellow producer, Trent sought to create a much heavier, more mainstream sound than found on his previous records.
It is immediately apparent from album opener 'All The Love In The World' that Trent has tried to find a much simpler musical niche. Although the usual speedy drum beats are present, much of the music found of this album is much simpler than past efforts, and obviously intended for a much wider audience. Lead single 'The Hand That Feeds' is the most blatant offender here, being musically simple and clearly tailored to garner radio airplay. 'The Collector', one of the more aggressive songs on the album, is also quite simple, and comes across as more of a rock song than a true industrial tune. With the exception of the bass heavy 'Sunspots', the songs here all manage to contain recycled riffs and beats from previous albums.
Lyrically, With Teeth
manages to become a massive songwriting cliche, with Trent trying to sound angst ridden and angry, but only coming across as an immature and underdeveloped lyricist. While angry songwriting worked with the concept album The Downward Spiral
, the lack of a concept or storyline here simply makes the songwriting seem like an exercise in mediocrity. It also appears that Reznor tried to explore more political themes here, writing several songs about the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the governments involved. The rebellious standpoint that is attempted here is another songwriting cliche, and it eventually seems as if Trent is writing these angry lyrics simply due to a vast lack of inspiration.
The final three songs on the album prove that some inspiration and thought was put into creating this album. 'The Line Begins To Blur' uses vast amounts of distortion to create a surreal soundscape. 'Beside You In Time', the longest song on the album, starts off as atmospheric and slow before slowly building up. The eerie ambience and distortion behind Trent's whispered, raspy vocal sends shivers up my spine, and stands as one of this albums finest moments. 'Right Where It Belongs' is another rather quiet song, and acts as the album closer. Delicate piano hidden underneath a layer of wavering distorted guitar makes this the perfect closer to what is otherwise a rather angry, aggressive album.
Although it is a rather disturbing reality, it seems that Trent Reznor, while not doped up, can produce some truly average material. With Teeth
stands as being one of the most blatantly uninspired Nine Inch Nails works, with poor lyrics and rather boring music. With trying to appeal to a more mainstream audience, Trent managed to produce one of the weakest albums of his career, with only a few rather brilliant songs saving it from being a total disaster.
-The Line Begins To Blur
-Right Where It Belongs
-Beside You In Time