Nine Inch Nails
Hesitation Marks



by praise the moon O))) USER (23 Reviews)
September 1st, 2013 | 18 replies

Release Date: 2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Stylish and diverse; a worthy comeback.

My, hasn't Trent Reznor been busy?

Between side projects, scoring films, raising sons and insulting fans over Twitter, the 48-year-old prince of industrial has somehow found the time to make another Nine Inch Nails album. I'll admit to feeling ambivalent when Hesitation Marks was announced. After the heights of his first three albums, I feel Trent really stumbled on 2005's With Teeth and 2007's Year Zero. Aside from a few tracks, these attempts to recast Nine Inch Nails as radio-friendly electronic rock were blunders. He regained his footing however with Ghosts I-IV, a double album of ambient instrumentals, and its swift follow-up The Slip, which was essentially With Teeth and Year Zero done right.

It was after this return to form that Trent put Nine Inch Nails on 'indefinite hiatus'. It seemed he would rather go out on a high note than risk trailing off into mediocrity. A good place to call it a day, I thought. But now, that satisfactory full stop has been turned into a question mark; Nine Inch Nails is back with a new album. Is eighth LP Hesitation Marks a glorious rebirth, a passable victory lap, or an unnecessary disappointment?

Reznor certainly wants Hesitation Marks to *feel* like his best album ever: extravagant tour plans, multiple masters, a series of artwork by Russell Mills (who designed the iconic cover of The Downward Spiral nineteen years ago). And while I'd hesitate to call it the greatest album in the Nine Inch Nails discography, it is certainly a worthy addition. Instead of rushing into its conception, Trent clearly spent some time plotting what he wanted Hesitation Marks to sound like. In the end, he went for an equal mix of old and new; namely, the brooding electronica of his recent works woven around muscular hooks and choruses that wouldn't sound out of place on Pretty Hate Machine. It is a winning formula, both harkening back to Trent's glory days and sounding very much like a fresh, modern album.

As can be expected, Hesitation Marks delivers several heavy, assaultive tracks such as “Came Back Haunted”, a ghostly cousin of vintage Nine Inch Nails track “Into the Void.” Also included are a number of more brooding and meditative songs, such as the ethereal “Find My Way” and “While I'm Still Here.” Its frequent shifts in tempo and volume give Hesitation Marks a dynamic, diverse feel. This diversity also extends to the album's emotions; while far from a happy record, with a title that references suicide, it includes more major keys and uplifting lyrics than any prior Nine Inch Nails album. Though at times, such as on the post-punky “Everything”, these rays of light land awkwardly upon the scorched earth of Reznor's universe, they are on the whole a welcome contrast to the venom and angst normally found there. Trent is clearly a happier person than he used to be, no doubt getting off on being a husband and a father; I cannot see the positivity that has bled into his music as a bad thing.

In addition to its wide scope of sounds and emotion, the songs themselves on Hesitation Marks are fantastic. His songwriting seems to have matured since we last heard him on The Slip, each track here shimmering with detail and intent. Two in particular rank among Reznor's best: the Downward Spiral-worthy “All Time Low”, a hellish funk track made of scabs and barbed wire, and the downright sexy post-industrial cut “Various Methods of Escape”, with its snaking verses and addictive chorus. It is on these songs where Reznor sounds truly on top of his game, as creative and as charismatic as he's ever been. If Hesitation Marks is more than just a fluke, and Reznor is able to repeat its charms, I'm all for album number nine.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
September 1st 2013


Album Rating: 3.0

Why'd you have to make it so haaaaard?

September 1st 2013


nice rev, pos

gotta jam

September 1st 2013


Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks tommy, you'd dig it

September 1st 2013


nice review bro

September 1st 2013


nice rev dude...pos'd bookmarked

Contributing Reviewer
September 1st 2013


Album Rating: 2.5

good review

Contributing Reviewer
September 1st 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

Great review dude

September 1st 2013


Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Wouldn't ever call "Came Back Haunted" a hard track.

September 1st 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

"The Slip, which was essentially With Teeth and Year Zero done right."

lolno. But good review regardless, have a pos

September 1st 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

Double post woo

September 1st 2013


Dem 2 ghost negs. What a shame, very good review regardless & have a pos.

September 1st 2013


Album Rating: 3.0

Don't mind the negs, just wish people would voice what they disliked about the review for me to take into account in the future (:

September 2nd 2013


Disappointed is such a good song

Not really a comeback, it's kind of stupid actually considering NIN's multiple hiatuses and
retirements.... from 1994 to 1999, and again till 2005, and from 2008 till now

September 2nd 2013


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Great review, amazing album.

Digging: Nine Inch Nails - Add Violence

Staff Reviewer
September 2nd 2013


Album Rating: 2.0

Gonna listen to this tonight, going through NIN's discog in anticipation. Fuck me the Downward Spiral is still so good.

Digging: Tyler, the Creator - Flower Boy

September 2nd 2013


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

How can you hate 'Year Zero' but like this? This is 'Year Zero' with worse singing and less creativity. Compare the choruses of 'Disappointed' and 'Came Back Haunted'. They are the same except for the lyrics. And 'Find My Way' = melody from Somewhat Damaged + Downward spiral mechanical ambiance. It's insulting. It's so cringe-worthy to hear respected musicians resort to cheap cliches for lyrics, but Reznor just has whole tracks full of them on here.

IMO, if Reznor replaced every track on Welcome Oblivion after Strings and Attractors with all the tracks on here from 'Various Methods' onwards, we'd have an excellent 4.5-level album, instead of a decent one and a 2/3s un-listenable one.

September 2nd 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

Enjoying this album.

September 6th 2013


Album Rating: 5.0

This is a solid review for sure, well done man. Sounds like you're closer than a 4.0 than a 3.5 to me but I am a NIN diehard so the excitement is bringing out my bias and I am probably inflicting that on others. Nevetheless, I think this is the best thing he has done since The Fragile for sure, and definitely the most musically relevant sounding thing he has done since The Downward Spiral. Honestly he could have come out and done "With Teeth part 2" and everything still would have been fine, he would have still sold out tons of venues all over the world, but to advance the NIN sound like this while still sounding like NIN is seriously impressive. One of the best of 2013 without a doubt for me. But yeah, I originally started writing this to tell you that you did a good job with the review- so I just wanna stress that. Great review, you sound personal without being unprofessional and that can be really hard to do. I disagree with your analysis of Year Zero wholeheartedly, but you write a nice review, pos.

TDS > The Fragile > HM > YZ > Ghosts > The Slip > Broken > PHM > With Teeth

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