Review Summary: Decent enough album with a couple of really bad songs that drag it down
Infamous for being the one-man band, the project of Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails is a project that has achieved a large amount of success over the course of many years, arguably reaching their pinnacle when legendary artist Johnny Cash covered the song Hurt. However, for many years now the band appears to have been on auto-pilot, releasing albums that do nothing particularly fresh and are a huge step down from releases such as The Downward Spiral. Reception of their latest album, Hesitation Marks, has been very positive, however, and for good reason. This is a step in the right direction for Trent.
This is an album that is nothing like anything they have worked on before, feeling new and fresh. The introduction to Copy Of A says all that needs to be said about this album, boasting an ethereal feel in the electronic sounds and the fun enough beat. Trent's vocals are as powerful as ever before, being laced with emotion as he pours his lyrics out and the electronic musical mayhem builds up and he declares "I don't know for certain anymore". This is definitely an album that pulls no punches, showcasing some of their best and most unique and enjoyable material in years.
Trent says it himself on the aforementioned track, "I am just trying to catch up with myself", and that he has done very well on his 2013 outing. Come Back Haunted showcases one of the most powerful choruses in his career, whilst it also shows that he has maintained his knack of writing thought provoking lyrics wrought deep with clever imagery. I Would For You is the standout song here and is perhaps the strongest song he has done since The Downward Spiral album, with a lot of emotional vocal work and music fits it really well. The way Trent almost mumbles the lyrical content here could not set more of a bleak sound up for the track, and this is exactly how NIN music should be done.
Sadly, it is not all positive here and there are a few real stinkers on the album. All Time Low in particularly has some atrocious dance beats that really do not feel at home at all despite the fact that this album makes heavy use of a lot of synth work, and it really isn't a particularly good song. This is one point in the album where you will almost be questioning what the hell was going through Trent's mind.
Despite the weaker songs here, this maintains a step in the right direction and a solid progression for Nine Inch Nails. Tracks like I Would For You showcase why he still possesses a whole lot of talent and knows how to focus it with some of the most ridiculously good vocals out there when he almost yells "I only have myself to blame" two minutes fifteen in. This is an album that will not win many album of the year awards for 2013 but is certainly a solid release.