Nine Inch Nails
The Fragile


4.5
superb

Review

by Killerhit USER (38 Reviews)
March 26th, 2012 | 28 replies | 4,117 views


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: And the sea will come to kiss me, for I am going home.

7 of 8 thought this review was well written

"Illusion is the first of all pleasures."

Perhaps that's the best term to accurately describe The Fragile. You have to hand it to Trent Reznor for dreaming the idea of a double album up - it's one of the highest landmarks in industrial music, sprung from the ever-creative and talented mind of Mr. Reznor, who wasn't exactly going steady at the time. As he was experiencing a fierce alcohol addiction, suffering from a bad case of social anxiety disorder, and more or less barely sleeping; it's safe to say he was having a little more than just a small crisis of faith. It had been about five years since the release of the 1994 release of The Downward Spiral (arguably the industrial album that set off everyone else) and then he penned down the instruments for a double album, and recorded it largely in his personal studio in New Orleans; an excellent place to record your biggest piece of music. So despite all of his trials, tribulations, and without an answer to poor Trent's problem - or finding out what Trent's problem even was, for that matter - it was a worthy five years to wait.

It's still safe to say that his departure didn't go down in flames. 1994 and the years that followed it showed that Trent's work in the industrial scene proved well - people pounced on them like kids in candy stores, and began to produce more and more industrial albums; it blew the Seattle scene of grunge completely out of the water, and paved the way for so many artists to build a career. If you had a keyboard and a loud guitar, then you're set to hit a high platinum record in a matter of weeks.

So when Trent returned, you'd think he'd of been met with a warm hug and a handshake. In fact, Trent returned at exactly the wrong time: in the late 1990's. This was around the time when the alternative rock scene had begun to make its uphill trek and the once-huge phenomenon of the industrial rock scene began to get caught in a landslide. Sure, many veteran bands like Ministry continued to sell very well, but when Trent began his new style, many critics had just dismissed it. Perhaps that what some fail to realize is that the beauty of Reznor's music is that he releases something new every time - The Fragile shows him breaking off into a more hopeful, but no less dark direction with its beauty. Instead of throwing you off balance with its gritty atmosphere and roaring electronics, The Fragile in itself is more of a calm after the storm: it explores pathos, piano, harmonies, all with a tinge of sadness. While it is a double album and a concept, it has no storyline and is totally different from the antsy and angst-laden lyrics in Downward Spiral.

The atmosphere created by this and the often boundless amount of instruments used, should be enough alone to captivate the listener. Trent goes all out here in his musical talent: it encapsulates all the elements of industrial rock that made Trent a god in the scene - guitar, piano, bass and drums, keyboards - and does so with a tinge of sadness and trepidation. Just because the music doesn't burst out suddenly and doesn't stick to the formula that made you a legend doesn't mean it can't be good.

Therefore Fragile opens Somewhat Damaged, a creeping descent of dry electronics and Reznor's harsh vocals, perhaps staying truer to the original ideals of The Downward Spiral. It's doubtless that the album will be full of filler (double albums have that constant ebb), but all the better moments on The Fragile make up for it. Under Reznor's new fingers, it is full of an aching sadness, the instruments deeper and richer. Approaches like this are notable in the soft, mostly instrumental La Mer and the orchestral soundscape of The Great Below proves Reznor as a masterful player, whether it comes to acoustics or electronics.

Even when some songs end, it's possible to still feel its dark nature, no matter how loud or quiet. The multiple breakdowns and changes in time signatures in We're In This Together, backed by a soft piano and echoing acoustics are two individual standouts; the second half of The Fragile is actually quite beautiful, with gorgeous piano parts followed by an explosive guitar solo. Other similar standouts do emerge in the 4/4 riffs and haunting vocals during The Day The Whole World Went Away, and the ridiculous cadenza of keyboards and bass popping up in the twisted instrumental Pilgrimage.

The second half of the album is less of a classic and features more duds, in particular tracks such as the pointless Star***ers, Inc., mostly by the fact that Reznor goes overboard in his lyrics here. He uses slang in the worst way possible, with weak links in electronics that actually start to bore you in its repetition. Into the Void is basically a longer reprise of La Mer that serves to only interest you with its catchy synthesized bass, but no more. Underneath it All, a simple 3-minute song, has a lot of interesting details about its composition that makes it similar to a mix between Downward Spiral songs Ruiner and The Becoming, and Please is more or less the highest filler song on the double album. However, Ripe (With Decay) is an excellent closer that serves well to wrap things up, with a disturbing acoustic guitar that tightens over a background of crackling drums, dry bass, and all ends with a brilliant guitar outro.

To put it simply, The Fragile does have plenty of filler; in particular on the second disk. But there's enough good here to make any listener endure only the occasional mediocrity. When the album is at its best - and there are plenty of sequences here - it delivers some of the best experiences in Trent's career. The Fragile is a great album with elements of different genres, all brought together more diversely than The Downward Spiral's compositions. It may not be perfect, and some might consider it just a lighter illusion of his previous releases: but illusion is the first of all pleasures.



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user ratings (1853)
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....

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

    Edmund Blackadder (4)
    Trent Reznor creates a gorgeous, genre spanning album....

    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 
Killerhit
March 25th 2012



4457 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I make most of my NIN reviews too long, but this one definitely deserved it.

(Just an FYI, the description is La Mer translated from its French lyrics)

dammets
March 25th 2012



2035 Comments


i need this album and still

Killerhit
March 25th 2012



4457 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Never listen to anything other than Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral. I bought Ghost I-IV a while back, but it kinda bored me."

Ghost I-IV is fine, but you need an acquired taste for it.

The7thVermicide
March 25th 2012



925 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Never listen to anything other than Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral. I bought Ghost I-IV a while back, but it kinda bored me."

That's a shame ,cause this album is amazing ,I'm sure you will love tracks like We're In This Toghether , La Mer ,The Great Below and Just Like You Imagined . Not even Starfuckers Inc can ruin this .

Killerhit
March 25th 2012



4457 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Not even Starfuckers Inc can ruin this ."

No. But it can kill the mood.

dammets
March 25th 2012



2035 Comments


i thought starfuckers was kind of a fan favorite here? guess not

Killerhit
March 25th 2012



4457 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

it sux

someguest
March 25th 2012



18859 Comments


awesome review dude, have a pos

right when I started reading this, "Mr. Self Destruct" started to play on my shuffle, out of 7,000 songs. pretty cool.

Digging: BABYMETAL - Babymetal

Killerhit
March 25th 2012



4457 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Life is a musical. You just gotta find the lyrics. And sing them out loud at Starbucks." ~Toby Turner


Anyways thanks some

myfault
March 25th 2012



7 Comments


this is good

Parallels
March 25th 2012



6640 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Would always say we'll make it through then my head fell apart and where were you?"

amazing album

Killerhit
March 25th 2012



4457 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Always has been

Killerhit
March 25th 2012



4457 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

bro.

EyesWideShut
March 25th 2012



3027 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

if ur rating ambition its a classic, but yea the second disc is full of filler aside from The Way Out, Starfuckers, Great Comedown, and yea the closer of Ripe rules too.

NIN put on an amazing tour for this album.

eggsvonsatan
March 25th 2012



1087 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I can understand why some people don't like starfuckers. Its a bit out of place, but still an amazing song in its own right.

Parallels
March 25th 2012



6640 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Somewhat Damaged, We're In This Together and La Mer are my favs. This album was my life when I was recovering from a head injury.

Killerhit
March 25th 2012



4457 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Honestly I just don't like the song in itself, it tries too hard.

Acanthus
March 26th 2012



9506 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Up until the "Starfuckers Inc." bit I was actually agreeing with the majority of this, never happens with NIN reviews.

Digging: Symphony X - Paradise Lost

Dummit
March 26th 2012



333 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

my mom randomly bought this when i was 13. i took it. i thank her for it.

Killerhit
March 26th 2012



4457 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

your mom has good taste



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