Review Summary: How to Destroy Angels carries Trent Reznor's legacy sound with the addition of some great soothing vocals by Mariqueen Maandig. A very solid electronic EP, if you've enjoyed "With Teeth" but maybe want something a bit more slow and soft, this is it.2 of 3 thought this review was well written
How to Destroy Angels is Trent Reznor's (Nine Inch Nails which you should be familiar with if you're reading this review) side-project of a sorts together with his wife Mariqueen Maandig and art designer Rob Sheridan who have worked with Trent for a good amount of years. Needless to say the group is quite close and it shows quite well in the music.
Their self-titled EP was released the first of June 2010 and featured a total of 6 tracks, beeing about 28 minutes in total. Short but sweet as they say.
How to Destroy Angels has been named as experimental and post-industrial which suits this project quite well. Those who know and love Nine Inch Nails will hear that this EP does not fall far from the tree. Tracks like "Fur Lined" and "A Drowning" sound a lot like Nine Inch Nails' later releases and could very well fit in "The Slip" or "With Teeth" if it wasn't for the obvious female vocals by Mariqueen Maandig.
Speaking of her vocals which is probably the thing that stands out a lot in this album, the vocals are very soothing and almost feel like whispers at times which fit in very well both in softer tracks like "The Drowning" and upbeat tracks like "BBB". This makes the EP a much more calm and soothing experience. Her vocals are present throughout all of the tracks with Trent doing a few backup vocals here and there not making himself known too much with his voice, but probably more with the beats.
Speaking of beats and samples on this, they are very well crafted making every track stand out, it feels as in a lot effort was crammed into every single track which is maybe why this was released as an EP and not a full-length.
The production on this is also top notch, the sound is absolutely flawless and you can hear every small instrument and obscure noise in the background. This is to be expected with Atticus Ross working on this album who worked with Trent before when making the OST for "The Social Network".
The tracks on here do have some variation to keep it interesting. You have tracks like "Parasite" which has a bit of a experimental sound to it and then you have a track like "BBB" which has a more simplistic and raw beat to it which realy took me back to the very old Nine Inch Nails days, though much more smooth and refined. "The Space in Between" is the single for this EP and is a very well constructed track that starts out realy soft and elevates until it peaks at the very end making it a solid choice for a single.
In the end there is no denying that How to Destroy Angels gives off a very big NIN vibe, but it has enough qualities to also be able to stand on it's own two legs and that is a big part due to Mariqueen Maandig's vocals. However comparing with some of Trent's work like "Year Zero", How to Destroy Angels comes off as a more soft approach to it and therefore does fit in well in the post-industrial sub genre.
Overall this was a very enjoyable listen for me that has had me coming back to it for multiple listens. It is a new take on the legacy sound Trent has built for himself and a very solid electronic EP.