KILL or KEEP Vol.2
Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile
Welcome back to this series, where we take a classic album that everyone knows but not everyone loves, and run it through a set of users with conflicting takes. They will jam the album for public entertainment and post their hot takes for all to see.
The rules are simple: for each track, our valiant competitors must give one of two verdicts: KILL or KEEP. To give things a trademark Sputnikmusic positive spin, each user must KEEP at least two tracks. To keep things alive, they must KILL at least one.
Our competitors today are: MiloRuggles, Pheromone, DivergentThinking, johnnyoftheWell and Nocte.
That’s a lot of bois for one album, but if you’re worried that things were getting cramped, we chose thise one for legroom: our target is Nine Inch Nails’ very famous double-album statement landmark The Fragile. It came out in 1999, which is a long time ago (this year is 2021). Since then, mastermind Trent Reznor has been ripped off by a load of godawful bands and turned his primary career instincts towards OSTs for people with leather sofas. Fascinating stuff! Just what will this megascoop uncover? Let’s delve!
Each user, please briefly explain your feelings on the album going in, and what you hope to achieve here? Do you want to KILL/KEEP as much as possible? Or is this just about trimming some fat?
MiloRuggles: Righto, I’ve been sucking Trent Reznor’s entire cock ever since he asked me to in a forum way back when, so my attachment to this album is, uh, significant. When I was 12 or so I pirated his whole discog and would shuffle it in Windows Media Player. Wild times. The first songs that really clicked were songs from The Fragile, so I wound up just sinking into this album quite early on. Over the years, I’ve only gained more appreciation for the quieter parts, and aside from the obvious KILLshot I think I’m really gonna struggle with this. It’s all love, Trent, baby.
Pheromone: [was asleep]
DivergentThinking: Not gonna lie, Nine Inch Nails are a band I never grew up with at all and have almost no experience with. I was never really into industrial rock/metal, so Trent Reznor’s work escaped my radar for a long time. But I remember listening to The Downward Spiral and thinking it was pretty good, so maybe I should change that. The Fragile is usually regarded as one of the project’s most polarizing albums because of its lyrics and overall length. Seeing as I haven’t listened to it in a long time (and even then it was a cursory listen), I guess we’ll see how this goes…
johnnyoftheWell: Okay lol so I have never listened to this album before (exciting!!), and the reason for this is that I think The Downward Spiral is an overwrought slog and one of the harder 3.0s of the ’90s. Not a fan of old school angstlord Trent Reznor at all, but I’m a big fan of the guy’s character arc. Anyhow, this album is huge and the Wiki page says that Ann Powers says that it contains electric guitars that fans will perhaps enjoy. Intrigued and sceptical. I don’t know what I want to end up with, just looking forward to KILLing and KEEPing whatever happens here. Hype etc. !
Nocte: So I can’t remember if I’ve heard this album. I think I was maybe, fuck, 7[?] when it was released. Who knows. Kind of excited to give this one of those open opinions something. I honestly don’t think I was ever a fanboy, no need to guzzle at the sack of something already hyped. Either way…
Let’s start the album!
All participants were jamming the album live in a Facebook chat. Choice comments from this discourse have been preserved as such. Pheromone was absent for the opening two or songs owing to not being awake. We abide a sultry flake.
(1) Somewhat Damaged
johnnyoftheWell: Is this what the kids call chromatic?
DivergentThinking: This is very of-its-time already
MiloRuggles: KEEP whoops was I meant to end with that? Chromaticism and chugging man, self-destructive lyrics, maybe the best NIN opener.
johnnyoftheWell: Oh wow the chromatics have spread to the guitar. Ann Powers was right. Wiki also says this song was played to Guantanamo inmates?
MiloRuggles: Along with shit from Death Magnetic.
Nocte: Were the 90s bad to this Trent dude? He seems kind of punchy. The fuck is that pluck? Some thick kicks. That build was sort of worth it. The breathing appeals to me. The track itself is okay, but it’s hard to imagine anything but a slow start here. The shifts in dynamic are cool – but it’s already denying its own existence in a very casual kind of way. KEEP.
MiloRuggles: Watch your 6.
johnnyoftheWell: Alright cool I’m on board. Familiar NIN combo of Reznor doing edgy things with his studio and cringe things with his mouth. I preferred Mr. Self-Destruct because the lyrics are unintelligible. The album has started and I don’t want it to stop yet! KEEP.
DivergentThinking: I’ll KEEP [it], if kinda begrudgingly.
(2) The Day The World Went Away
johnnyoftheWell: Is this shoegaze?
MiloRuggles: The fact that this song was the leading single and actually fucking charted never ceases to make me laugh. The dynamics are more or less the entire appeal of the songwriting here, and I can’t imagine they are maintained when you’re bumpin this in the ‘rolla. Regardless, this song actually has some pretty cool lyrics so KEEP.
johnnyoftheWell: I’m not sure if I love those patented Industrialgaze tones or the way this track’s lull kinda bins the nastiness the opener built up so solidly, but it’s nice to have some na-na-nas to resolve it. But man cannot live on nas alone. Narrowly KILL. Or KEEP. Hmm. KILL.
DivergentThinking: So I really like the dynamics here. Kind of a weird mix of hopeful and dark, and the mix of acoustic and distorted electric guitars only adds to the juxtaposition. Great atmosphere, so I’m gonna KEEP.
Nocte: This started off pretty cool. There were some really nice clean moments that churned itself onto a grinding snooze fest. Really hoping the rest of the record doesn’t follow suit. KILL.
Pheromone joins the chat.
(3) The Frail
MiloRuggles: The Frail has to be kept because of The Wretched. Also, we’re gonna need breaks from Trent’s voice if we want a final cut that’s palpable. KEEP.
DivergentThinking: Just some basic piano playing, but I guess the minimalism is pretty effective. As weird as it sounds, it kinda reminds me of Shadows of the Sun by Ulver. Good stuff. KEEP.
Pheromone: The Frail has to be kept because I honestly just awoke and this is really gorgeous KEEP.
johnnyoftheWell: Oh, this is an interlude! I enjoy the lack of guitars and/or Trent’s voice. There is a piano, wonderful. KEEP.
Nocte: The Frail is a bit of a sleeper. Mood is somber, which makes me happy. KEEP.
(4) The Wretched
johnnyoftheWell: Okay, this is already my favourite thing so far.
DivergentThinking: Loving this eerie intro.
Pheromone: Yeah this is super good.
johnnyoftheWell: Trent is being ominous but not chromatic. True artistic growth.
DivergentThinking: Nice incorporation of the guitar too.
johnnyoftheWell: IT IS CHROMATIC AGAIN.
MiloRuggles: Nahnahnah there you go.
Pheromone: Sounds kind of like he’s seducing.
johnnyoftheWell: This is exactly what I want in a NIN song hard KEEP.
MiloRuggles: “God himself reaches ffffffuckin on through / Just to push you down / Just to hold you down” Eerie vibes, chorus bangs harder than Sasha Grey, edgy anti-God stuff, quintessential NIN. KEEP.
Pheromone: I like that angst. KEEP.
johnnyoftheWell: Sasha Grey ref in 2021, awesome.
MiloRuggles: I am who I am.
DivergentThinking: Yeah, this one is fantastic! Great contrast between the softer and more distorted moments, and the eerie piano parts are incredibly effective. This is more sinister and dark than any of the fake industrial shit Marilyn Manson ever put out in his heyday. KEEP.
Nocte: Yeah easy KEEP.
(5) We’re In This Together
Nocte: That slow dive atmo build. This guy thinks he’s spawning a sound or something. Those vocals kind of cringe. As far as slow tempo builds go this turned sour with the dynamic change. KILL.
JohnnyoftheWell: In my opinion as an expert this is very industrial. Oh okay he’s doing a rawk chorus. Scratch that, provisionally KILL.
DivergentThinking: Yeah, I’m probably gonna KILL this one. This kinda reminds me of the qualities I don’t like in NIN.
Nocte: Yeah some industry got hold of this.
MiloRuggles: So Reznor allegedly spent ungodly amounts of time recording these vocals, and my conclusion is that he should’ve just taken that as a sign. I don’t hate the song, think I’ve got a bit of a Stockholm thing goin on here, but let’s be pragmatic and KILL the thing
johnnyoftheWell: Brb gonna throw more toast in the yeeter.
Pheromone: I don’t have headphones in but Trent has a weird ability to sort of sound like he’s still whispering into my ear KEEP because I vibe it.
Nocte: 7 mins is about 4 too long – this isn’t funeral doom metal IMO.
JohnnyoftheWell: I really wanna start cooking chijimi but apparently you have to let the batter chill for MULTIPLE HRS before frying it, and this knowledge has ruined my day and week.
Nocte: Deep fry adobo in beer batter. You’re welcome.
DivergentThinking: To put it plainly, this fucking sucks. It captures the worst traits of 90s industrial rock while having the most boring alternative metal choruses you could imagine. This one has aged horribly – especially with how needlessly angsty it is – and I don’t see myself ever returning to it. Hard KILL.
(6) The Fragile
johnnyoftheWell: Fuck, a title track this early in the game.
MiloRuggles: Not a man to conceal his intentions.
Pheromone: Do not act like Fishmans did not do it earlier.
Nocte: It’s only early cause there’s a couple hundred tracks here. Why does this sound like it was recorded next to a mattress?
DivergentThinking: Because Trent is just that DIY.
JohnnyoftheWell: Fishmans of the hundred tracks.
Pheromone: Fishmans Long Season next.
johnnyoftheWell: Yes. I splashed beer on my nose.
Nocte: Okay I dig this. KEEP.
DivergentThinking: Am I the only one who seriously hates those creaking whispering vocals in the “creepy” sections of industrial rock songs? That’s one of the things that turned me off the genre in the first place.
MiloRuggles: Look, I’m desperate for any and all information I can find in the missing beat from the first chorus on this track (I’ve never seen anyone talk about this), so slide up in my shoutbox if you’ve got any leads on that pls. The whole thing is great, really layered and pretty and comparatively angst free. The transition from the bridge into the fucked lead break is subtle by NIN standards, and the final choruses border on glorious KEEP.
Nocte: The Fragile is the ultimate title track on this, mostly because it shares the same name.
johnnyoftheWell: Classic NIN; the arrangement is pristine but I can’t vibe with any of the hooks. Noxious ’90s guitarmud polished to its finest. KILL.
DivergentThinking: Honestly, this one’s just a bit boring and nondescript. Not much variation, and the songwriting is just kind of a repeat of what we’ve already heard at this point. Not sure, why this deserves the title track treatment; it’s ok, but not much more. Narrow KILL.
Pheromone: The Fragile would have to be called something else if I did the KILL and also it’s really good KEEP.
(7) Just Like You Imagined
johnnyoftheWell: This is a groove, I groove.
DivergentThinking: I like the weird rhythms already, very Aenima Tool.
MiloRuggles: Trent Reznor has won Oscars for his soundtrack work, and Just Like You Imagined is still the best instrumental song he’s ever made. KEEP.
DivergentThinking: Okay, this actually kinda rules.
neekafat: Hi, what’s happening here?
DivergentThinking: Really enjoyable instrumental jam. I like the progressive rhythm that permeates the track, and I feel like this is the best incorporation of the industrial elements so far. Awesome stuff. KEEP.
johnnyoftheWell: This is pretty great! It’s instrumental, hooray! I love 1) the rhythms 2) them churning riffbois in the final minutes 3) that it features a trumpet for no other reason than that Reznor’s production chops can make it sound good. That is how music works KEEP.
Pheromone: As someone who doesn’t listen to NIN so much you can super hear the influence Reznor had on the early 00s rock n industrial scene. I feel like this instrumental also gives off major has-been-ripped-off-a-ton–by-worse-artists-and-worse-vibes KEEP!!
(8) Even Deeper
johnnyoftheWell: We are about one quarter done lol.
Pheromone: Ah see, that “I WISH I FELT SOMETHING” into the verses build just sounds super like something Korn would do sorry KILL.
MiloRuggles: Look, I like this song. I like the weird samples, I like the quieter parts, but the chorus is pretty weak, and I’ve already let a bunch of nananas slip through the cracks. Reluctant KILL.
johnnyoftheWell: I like the reverberated synth hit that sounds like someone dropping a drop of something into a goldfish bowl in a dark (or overly white?) room. The percussion is good as per. Everything else kinda sucks. KILL.
DivergentThinking: Despite the really angsty stuff in parts, I still kinda like this. The softer parts are nice and experimental, and those strings (whether fake or not) are pretty cool. Reluctant KEEP.
MiloRuggles: Once more, the outro is king.
Pheromone: Yeah I like this outro.
DivergentThinking: Yeah, this outro is why I kept it lol.
johnnyoftheWell: Outro is good, yesss.
Nocte: Why is Even Deeper here? It sounds like a bad introduction to the TV series House. Although the first couple seasons were hot back in the day. KILL.
johnnyoftheWell: Oh yikes a guitar.
Pheromone: After Mellon Collie having an album which flows so smoooothly even when pace changing is such a blessing god this fucking rips big pre-emptive KEEP. Maybe the biggest pre-emptive KEEP.
MiloRuggles: It’s hard to imagine this album without its fascist anthem. KEEP, and piss time brb.
Pheromone: Fascist anthem>
DivergentThinking: This is pretty cool. The guitar line is repetitive but effective and, as with Just Like You Imagined, I like how the more unorthodox time signature makes it more unsettling. KEEP.
Nocte: This is by far the best track so far. I’m going to KEEP this guy just because it’s carrying that less than snappy first half so far.
Pheromone: Yeah this has me chugging my coffee like a mad man lessgo.
DivergentThinking: I’m just surprised I’m typing so coherently with how much I’ve had to drink already.
Pheromone: The uyore diong wlell.
JohnnyoftheWell: There is brass and a load of shit goin on down here woah. I hate the riff, but it’s being flexed pretty darn well. Oh well KILL.
(10) No, You Don’t
DivergentThinking: Oh fucking lord, this is the worst kind of alt-metal angst so far. What the fuck is this, insta-KILL.
JohnnyoftheWell: Oh yikes okay this is a bad Helmet song with edgier guitar tones and dumb rave beats KILL.
Pheromone: Wait which tune are y’all on?
JohnnyoftheWell: No, You Don’t.
Pheromone: Okay cool. Yeah this fucking sucks. KILL.
MiloRuggles: Yeah, so this was one I knew I was KILLing when I peeped the tracklist. Misses the vibe of the album entirely, but has a prominent spot before fucking La Mer, I mean what the fuck.
Pheromone: It sounds like bad people have hyped themselves up to do bad things to this song.
MiloRuggles: It’s got some gat chromatics though?
Nocte: Uninspired beat.
Pheromone: Uninspired Trent Reznor type beat.
Nocte: Is that where Silverchair got their bad vocal phrasings from? This shit is whack and angsty but it’s not clicking with me at all. KILL.
MiloRuggles: Guitar clipped to shit best part of [this] song.
(11) La Mer
DivergentThinking: Lol, what a transition.
Pheromone: Still works transition wise tbf. Corgan take notes.
DivergentThinking: Oh shit, got a TRIP-HOP beat in da house!
MiloRuggles: La Mer is sex. I love the way that your brain has to reprocess the rhythm of the piano once the drums hit. Did I lie about Reznor’s best instrumental track before? Probably. KEEP.
Pheromone: I like the funky bass a lot here, kind of ruins it but kind of doesn’t oh man KEEP. I might end my new album with this just to fuck with Ars KEEP.
DivergentThinking: I like this quite a bit. The piano work is really pretty, but also a bit off-putting at the same time. This juxtaposition is only enhanced when the weird electronic noises bubble up; great dynamics in this song overall. KEEP.
johnnyoftheWell: This is too fast to be trip-hop and it’s making me nauseous. Maybe that is the point. Is NIN too coolUncool for spliff tempo? It is very chromatic, much like seasickness is also chromatic. I have no feelings. KEEP for soundtrack cred.
Nocte: La Mer has piano again. Insta KEEP. Tasty bass licks and syncopation
MiloRuggles: Imagine getting paid to write in 2021.
Pheromone: “This is too fast to be trip-hop and it’s making me nauseous” and then you KEEP, god you’re such a negger bro.
Pheromone: I’ve been meaning to say this because I know I shouldn’t let it affect how I feel about the album, but fuck me, did every shitty rock band of the early 00s just rip off Trent?
(12) The Great Below
Nocte: And we’re back to making House soundtracks. I’m gonna say KEEP because this alright if somewhat reductive mood setting for a disc finisher. Shit are we halfway there? How drunk is Divergent right now? The guy might make the end of this without a nanna nap. THIS COULD PROB GO BECAUSE BAD TASTE ETC
johnnyoftheWell: This reminds me of Ming Ming, which is good because that album has good melodies and doesn’t suck. I vibe this.
Pheromone: Sometimes Trent dips his toes in a real familiar sound to something bad and it’s not his fault.
JohnnyoftheWell: 悪因悪果 evil begets evil baby.
Pheromone: Bad cause bad effect Google says actually. […] Yeah this building up here has sold me, this is great KEEP.
MiloRuggles: A rare lyrical highlight of Trent’s (just focus on the berg, not the ice shelf lurking beneath) backed up by a dynamic vocal performance that pushes his talents to their outer limits. Fantastic song, KEEP.
JohnnyoftheWell: I think I’m behind lol – timestamps?
Pheromone: Well Johnny, you know what they say – 悪因悪果.
Pheromone: I am 4:40 lol, how am I ahead in all of this. Should we regroup for the 2nd disc?
DivergentThinking: Decent experimental track, if maybe a little too long. It’s nice to hear a song like this that’s entirely soft and free of the regular distortion of the album, so I’ll give it a narrow KEEP.
MiloRuggles: Lol we’re on the second disc.
Pheromone: Hahaha end me.
MiloRuggles: Was kidding sorry haha, last song.
DivergentThinking: I’m about to go out and get more alcohol in about 10 minutes (don’t worry, I’ll keep playing the album through my headphones).
JohnnyoftheWell: Ummmm okay so the first half was great and I was going to KEEP it, but then Trent started croonhowling and setting himself up for a climax – only to pull back! I cannot cope. He was the climax? The song has a groove and atmosphere. Approve. KEEP.
Pheromone: You go Divergent. Can you get me a Cornetto please mate?
(13) The Way Out Is Through
Pheromone: Tell me when to play the second disc.
DivergentThinking: I’ve already started lol.
MiloRuggles: Uh it’s starting now?
Pheromone: This is a structural nightmare.
DivergentThinking: I’m already halfway through the first track and it’s not that interesting tbh.
Pheromone: Yeah I’m yawned out. X-Japan Art of Life when?
DivergentThinking: Yup, this is a song alright. Seriously, this is just kinda boring as a first track to the second disc. The buildup’s not very interesting, and the climax doesn’t last long enough to leave an impact. KILL.
Nocte: This is okay. Tentatively KEEPing because it’s an opener and leading onto something right?
Pheromone: Yeah The Way Out Is Through more like The Way In Is Passive amiright KILL.
MiloRuggles: If you’re gonna split your album into two discs, I can’t imagine a better, uh, second opening track. The long build into the RIFF and SCREAMS just hits real good, and the song’s /\ structure gets me all riled up KEEP.
johnnyoftheWell: This is decent by badass NIN standards. Not as engaging as Somewhat Damaged, but similar to that song I feel like the disc has STARTED and that I am ready for it. KEEP.
(14) Into the Void
Pheromone: Into the second LP.
johnnyoftheWell: The bass is squishing.
MiloRuggles: Into The Void has to stay for holistic reasons, because reprising La Mer helps to give this kinda needlessly sprawling album some more identity. Also, it makes me wanna dance all sexy like. KEEP.
Pheromone: After he says “pictures in my head of my final destination” I expected to KILL but the instrumentals here are fucking me up in such a good way KEEP.
Nocte: A lot of this vibe seems familiar, or is this album mashing into itself? The pop on that riff though. Yes the void is goooood. Firm KEEP.
Pheromone: 2 hour albums; I don’t actually think you can avoid it.
Pheromone: Yeah. It’s my favourite riff so far tbh.
johnnyoftheWell: This is sexdance NIN again, inarguably the best kind KEEP.
Pheromone: I am dancing. Sexdance karma sutra Trent Reznor.
MiloRuggles: My pelvis has a mind of its fucking own hide the china.
DivergentThinking: This one’s pretty decent. I like the weird beat; it kinda reminds me or an old PS2 game like Timesplitters or Red Faction for some reason – which is a plus for me, given my nostalgia for those early 2000s games. The vocals are kinda cringy, but I’ll KEEP this one overall.
johnnyoftheWell: Oh wow hot squeak yes yes this is good.
(15) Where Is Everybody?
Pheromone: Hahah that harmony “I never wanted to be like you”, Trent sometimes sounds like he’s having a tantrum (sorry) KILL.
Nocte: Acoustic twang, bad quasi rap, and the good vibes are gone again. KILL
Pheromone: It sounds like the advert music for 2005 jorts w/ graffiti spraying.
johnnyoftheWell: Adequate Linkin Park remix. KILL.
MiloRuggles: It’s quasi rap or quasi scream, pick your poison. I understand why this song’s gonna cop some hate, but the production on this song is BIG and it’s kinda genuinely playful/fun, so good for sequencing an album this fucking long and angsty KEEP.
DivergentThinking: A prime example of a song that hasn’t aged well. The beat’s fine I suppose, but that twang needs to fucking go. And the overall song feels kinda directionless on top of that. KILL.
(16) The Mark Has Been Made
Pheromone: The Mark Has Been Made sounds like when a dog pees over another dogs pee, as in the name the song is maybe good.
johnnyoftheWell: I feel.
Pheromone: I am thinking about dog pee.
Nocte: What is with these introductions?
johnnyoftheWell: This is an ambient album.
Pheromone: Yeah for a near-2 hour album it’s kind of obnoxious at times.
Nocte: I thought this was supposed to be super angsty but
MiloRuggles: Ur gettin it.
johnnyoftheWell: Lemme show you all something beautiful that I made today:
MiloRuggles: Innuendo for the youth!
Pheromone: Sounds like a wild Youtube let’s play.
johnnyoftheWell: In the bog! […] Halfway through and the beat has started. The mark has been made. I feel it. KEEP.
MiloRuggles: The Mark Has Been Made has a steady and rewarding progression. This album dies without significant ambient input, and this is an ez KEEP.
Pheromone: When a dog marks its territory, it’s making a claim for his place in the history books. Trent has marked his territory a few times but I don’t fuck with this. The second half is good but I’m tired of meh first half – sick second half stuff. KILL.
DivergentThinking: If this one was maybe 2 minutes shorter, the atmosphere would have been more effective. But eventually it drags and gets boring as hell. KILL.
Pheromone: Oh man I did not think I would be a contrarian opinion on this one.
MiloRuggles: Mein gott.
Pheromone: Is this the one Johnny Cash covered?
MiloRuggles: Johnny Cash actually wrote Heresy.
Nocte: This is actually stronger than I feel it is. Wait. Is that a thing? KEEP.
(17) 10 Miles High
johnnyoftheWell: Is this a bonus track?
Pheromone: I guess because Spotify has the 23 song version.
johnnyoftheWell: It is bonus track.
MiloRuggles: Oh now this gets interesting.
Pheromone: I’ll pause and press play when you tell me papa.
johnnyoftheWell: This is like Tesco in a zombie apocalypse and all the zombies are slashing in the air with alt metal cds.
MiloRuggles: Bonus content for the uberfan that just enjoys Reznor’s production. A respectable interest, for sure, but not a song that ever needed to be on this album. KILL.
johnnyoftheWell: Yes. KILL.
[Only Johnny and Milo listened to this]
Nocte: I feel like this might’ve made radio at some point. I mean at least probably.
Nocte: “Never be enough to fill me up” is kinda ugh, especially after the 16th time. KILL.
johnnyoftheWell: Fuck I’m hungry.
Pheromone: Wow “this is how it begins”. This will be my opener just for ultimate cheese.
johnnyoftheWell: Credit where due, every NIN I’ve jammed has a v cogent opener.
Pheromone: I actually do like this.
johnnyoftheWell: Definitely the most Smashing Pumpkins thing we’ve had so far.
DivergentThinking: Really dated, but not bad at all.
Pheromone: Did the bloke from Avenged Sevenfold just copy Trent’s vox or am I way off on this?
DivergentThinking: I was thinking Patrick Stump, but yeah.
MiloRuggles: Oh shit, I always forget about Please. I’m gonna KILL it on that basis, and because it doesn’t fit the bigger picture too well.
johnnyoftheWell: Average dumb song there is rock I hate guitars now fuck you Ann Powers KILL.
DivergentThinking: This is pretty good. One of the better angsty songs on the album; the more melodic moments remind me of Alice in Chains, and the synthesizers are actually integrated into the sound pretty well. KEEP.
Pheromone: PLEASE is actually quite dope and kind of cheesy but fuck it I am super invested when his vocal inflections raise to that chorus and the never be enough to fill me up close – big air drumming anthem KEEP. Oh man Soundgarden would make for a good one of these.
(19) Starfuckers, Inc.
MiloRuggles: Let’s just preemptively KILL the ill-fated Starfuckers, Inc., though I really want to give credit to the vocal processing in the verses. Song’s alright, but a really fucking poor fit here.
Pheromone: Ah I can’t look past the weird glitchy industrials on this it’s just so much, the chorus of STARFUCKERS INCORPORATED is sooooooooooooooooooooooooo bad KILL.
DivergentThinking: Jesus, this is fucking horrendous.
MiloRuggles: Real talk.
johnnyoftheWell: The verse percussion is good! There is no forgiving that chorus! Fucking KILL.
Pheromone: This makes me wanna 1 the album.
MiloRuggles: Would you rather fuck emo Trent or buff Trent.
Pheromone: I want buff Trent to fuck me I want to fuck emo Trent.
Nocte: KILL on title alone. Oh and the group shouts.
DivergentThinking: This reminds me of when Crash Test Dummies made a song called Let’s Party, was all about the lead singer talking to his dick and had a similar beat (just a bit slower)
Pheromone: “I bet you think this song is about you, don’t you”, Jesus.
DivergentThinking: Absolutely fucking abhorrent, as if the title didn’t already reveal how bad it was. The whole thing is just ridiculously angsty in the worst way possible, and the chanted vocals don’t help in the slightest. This is the cringiest kind of musical aggression. KILL this shit.
Pheromone: Inb4 Doof says Starfuckers Inc is intentionally over the top.
johnnyoftheWell: Doof has this thing where he hates bad lyrics unless they’re so bad he can ascribe self-parody to them, and what can I say the man’s pretty generous.
Nocte: Doof is cool, but auto spell always changes his name to “food” so idk.
Pheromone: After this is finished listen to Starfuckers on repeat and give yourself brain damage.
DivergentThinking: This song is… just whatever. Idk anymore, everything is starting to blend together now.
Pheromone: Compilation, agreed KILL.
johnnyoftheWell: This song is pretty cool but I kinda want the album to have ended forty minutes ago. Oh, it’s an interlude. KILL.
MiloRuggles: I could honestly listen to that weird descending synth line alone for like 12 mins, Complication is fun and short so KEEP.
Nocte: Nah. KILL.
DivergentThinking: Complication: Boring. Just a boring instrumental with nothing to really latch onto. Not much else to say. KILL.
MiloRuggles: Bonus track, pause please ahaa.
(21) The New Flesh
johnnyoftheWell: Yeah okay ambient skwawkbox I feel it.
Pheromone: Blood blood gallons of the stuff.
johnnyoftheWell: Enjoy creepy ambience forever. There is a riff, and it’s a bit extra. KEEP nonetheless.
Nocte: I can’t remember if I’m listening to NIN or some kind of 90s racing game soundtrack. Actually make that my blurb for Complication. But KEEP.
MiloRuggles: The New Flesh gets KEEPed, cause this album needs mooooore slowburn to justify its runtime.
(22) I’m Looking Forward To Joining You, Finally
johnnyoftheWell: Aight bois, final four.
DivergentThinking: Oo, creepy Halloween atmosphere.
Pheromone: Oh man, this is, hm, actually pre great so far. I love that percussion. Someone describe that more poetic for me.
MiloRuggles: S P A C I O U S.
Pheromone: Yes. No. Also Marilyn Manson.
DivergentThinking: The percussion is spacious and yet gives off a strange claustrophobia, maintaining the same juxtapositions of this album likes to use frequently. […] Is that poetic enough?
Nocte: Hard pass. This shit is getting boring now. This album is long, like please wash both hands long. KILL.
johnnyoftheWell: I feel that this is badly sequenced and would have worked better as a breakup track earlier on, but also I have no idea what’s gonna come the other side lol. Here for that slow slow b u r n anyhow KEEP.
Pheromone: The percussion is spacious and yet gives off a strange claustrophobia, maintaining the same juxtapositions of this album likes to use frequently KEEP.
MiloRuggles: Marilyn Manson is pretty good for radio schlock, Trent Reznor is a sexy man who isn’t afraid of anything, not even a slow jam at the ass end of a 2 hour album. KEEP.
DivergentThinking: KEEP, I guess. It wasn’t that memorable, but not offensively bad either.
(23) The Big Comedown
johnnyoftheWell: This is a Cibo Matto remix.
MiloRuggles: Fuckin detuned ass electric guitar goin in raw, instant KEEP.
Nocte: Is this where nu metal comes from?
Pheromone: I love this song so far but why is there a Greta Van Fleet album on Sput’s front page with a 4.0 review from Sowing summarised “Redemption”?
johnnyoftheWell: Sowing is publishing his top 100 and there are 14 spots left to fill is why.
MiloRuggles: I really couldn’t handle seeing Sowing’s favourite hip-hop album GKMC being talked up and then insta-AFI’d right out the gate, but I kept it to myself like a responsible adult.
DivergentThinking: This album is starting to numb me a bit. I can only take so much of this, lol.
johnnyoftheWell: My neighbours think I hate myself but this beat is vibing so maybe they are right but it’s okay somehow KEEP.
Nocte: Yes, this shit is fun. The Big Comedown is a natural comeuppance. KEEP.
Pheromone: This song is ANGST and maybe the best ANGST. KEEP.
DivergentThinking: It’s angsty, but the beat is weird enough that I kinda like it. The distorted guitars compliment the beat pretty well, and the synthesizers add some extra depth to the track. KEEP.
Pheromone: I fancy McDonald’s mozzarella dippers and I think this is because of this somehow.
(24) Underneath It All
DivergentThinking: 2 more songs, bois! I’m not looking forward to the last song being almost 7 minutes, I can already say that much.
Pheromone: I have allergy itches and it’s ruining my life and so the repeat of “all I do I can still feel you” is super apt to my current situation. Big KEEP.
Nocte: The industrialism is well back enough. Kind of over Trent’s croons at this point yet this is a very critically enjoyable track. I’m probably just fatigued at this point but hey, it’s a KEEPer.
MiloRuggles: Underneath It All is pretty sweet, but I reckon we can make this album work without it. KILL.
DivergentThinking: By this point, this shit is just starting to blend together. Nothing new here, just a lot of the same industrial metal tropes we’ve already heard countless times. I’m just ready for the album to end, honestly. KILL.
johnnyoftheWell: I am really really hungry and think this is probably okay, but I am now bored and HUNGRY so my patience is limited and it does feel like a trope rehash so KILL.
(25) Ripe (With Decay)
Pheromone: Ripe (With Decay) hahahaha what a name. I wonder what Trent’s kids’ angst-teen phase was like – did they listen to NIN?
DivergentThinking: Long-ass buildup, that’s for sure.
Pheromone: I hope the entire song is buildup and that’s how the album ends.
johnnyoftheWell: Interesting piano wow very modernist. Jac would give this at least a 2.5.
DivergentThinking: The dissonant piano work would be interesting if he didn’t fucking use it already on this album.
Nocte: KILL the closer.
johnnyoftheWell: Okay yeah fuck this.
DivergentThinking: Yeah, this closer is kinda bad.
Pheromone: Dude imagine how, like, vexed you would be buying this album, putting it on straight away, hyping yourself up, and expecting a big fucking classic to end it.
MiloRuggles: Ripe ends this album with a big fucking question mark, and there’s kinda no other way to do it. Layers on layers is the name of the game here, and there are layers to boot here, but the beauty of this as a closer is that it never takes off. It stares you in the face, drooling, licking its lips, and opens its mouth wide as if to whisper something hideous in your ear, then backs off and cuts down an alley nearby to harass someone else some other day. Fuckin KEEP.
Pheromone: (sorry Milo).
johnnyoftheWell: Big “the worst is yet to come” vibes, but, like, bitch, I’m already bored out of my fucking mind here. Bonus points for piano. There is dissonance. I would KILL, but tbh if anyone is gonna go through this journey ever again I want them to experience this the same way so KEEP.
DivergentThinking: What a boring closer. The buildup doesn’t even lead to anything interesting, and the “creepy” effects have lost all meaning after such a bloated mess of an album. This album was already way too fucking long to begin with, and songs like this are proof that it didn’t need to be a double album. KILL.
Pheromone: Yeah KILL if that wasn’t a given.
Nocte: This wasn’t a bad experience, but it was the longest, least fun version I’ve experienced from Trent and co.. That said the free thought rambling process here is a good time. The Fragile is a firm 2.7ish…maybe. Brb, gonna delete the album from my library because it doesn’t appeal to my 2021 playlist aesthetic.
Pheromone: Like the name implies, Trent Rez was obviously pretty Fragile when it came to compiling this 2xLP megafuck of sweaty industrial angst. I’ve never listened to muuuuuuch NIN (I actually think this might have been my first spin of The Fragile) but I bet if I listened to this in my acne years I would have adored it. But fucking hell Starfucker’s existence paints the album in a proto-cheese-incel grin. I don’t think Trent is for me. Sorry for the negi-vibes.
johnnyoftheWell: I’m glad I discovered this album through this gameshow thing because it made it not a huge waste of time. I was optimistic that this would step up from The Downward Spiral’s angst pie, but the harsh songs here are far worse than that album’s, the sequencing is choppy, the pacing is egregious and I wasn’t intimidated or particularly engaged by the standard Trent Rez chromatic ominous suspense tricks past the first few tracks. Definitely a few choice cuts to add to a maybe-playlist of NIN songs I like, but otherwise this has aged pretty awfully. We tried!
DivergentThinking: While there were some surprises, the overall album definitely reinforced a lot of my negative preconceptions about Nine Inch Nails. As I said in the beginning, I’m not much of an industrial rock fan to begin with, especially when it’s combined with alternative rock in the case of artists like NIN and Marilyn Manson. In any case, the biggest problem here is that the album is way too bloated; 23 tracks for just the standard edition is fucking ridiculous, especially with how many songs bleed into each other stylistically. I’m gonna give this a 2.5 overall, and I’m probably just gonna give up on the Nine Inch Nails enterprise overall. Sorry, but I just can’t get into Trent’s work.
MiloRuggles: I killed more tracks than I thought I would, and I’ll probably give my idealised version of this album a listen at some point, but for me this all kind of misses the point. I’ve revolved both discs of this album in my car multiple times this year already, and all these years later I’m still finding details on this album that I’ve never dialled in on before.
Real talk, I’m a fan of the LONG novel. The book that you can use as a doorstop, a pillow, a weapon. I like it when creators strive for more than they can rightly grasp, and the result is a great, sprawling mess. The Fragile is one such sprawling mess, riddled with imperfection, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Bonus: The Fragile or Mellon Collie?
Pheromone: Yeah I respect this so significantly more than Mellon Collie.
DivergentThinking: Heavy disagree. I think Mellon Collie shits all over this.
MiloRuggles: The Fragile by a country mile, the production alone beats that shit out of Mellon Collie.
johnnyoftheWell: Mellon Collie is an incompetent mess of an album with cheesy fun. The Fragile is a competent mess of an album with creepy cringe. Mellon Collie.
DivergentThinking: 43.5% (10/23)
johnnyoftheWell: 44% (11/25)
MiloRuggles: 28% (7/25)
Nocte: 41.67% (10/24)
Pheromone: 38.1% (8/21)
Thank you for reading/scrolling to The End. Please throw generous amounts of shade and volunteer an album to be trounced next time around. Enjoy your day.