Nine Inch Nails
The Fragile



by megalomanic USER (1 Reviews)
June 25th, 2012 | 10 replies

Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Trent Reznor's masterpiece, wrongfully overshadowed by The Downward Spiral.

This is, in my opinion, my favorite record that Trent Reznor has written, and the greatest alternative industrial album ever made. It contains songs with a wide range of emotions, from absolute anger, to bitter sadness, to bliss and peace. But mostly sadness. The range of emotion is much wider than any of Reznor's albums, and that's what makes it his most personal. Written during a dark time in his life, Reznor painstakingly crafted a masterpiece over the course of two years in his New Orleans studio, molded from his raw emotions and deepest feelings. It hits a soft spot. That's what I love about The Fragile. In whatever mood you're in, there's a song from The Fragile that matches that mood.

More radio-friendly than most of his other albums, The Fragile effectively soothes us with melody and orchestral landscape, while at the same time makes us more tense and perhaps more self-conscious. The tense, volatile vibe oozing from the record is frightening at times, and at other times, beautiful. Lyrically, Reznor is at his most poetically mature. From the melancholy guitar symphonic eulogy of "The Day The World Went Away" to the hard-core, speaker-blowing, metal "No, You Don't," Reznor is also at his most diverse and versatile, as a musician.

The instrumentals in the album are some of the greatest that Reznor has ever written. Reznor is known for his use of instrumentals. "Just Like You Imagined" is considered to be the greatest Nine Inch Nails song, which includes a catchy bassline, awesome synth backgrounds and distorted guitar solos. "Pilgrimage" sounds like a march, which evidently leads to nowhere. Marching drums, choir, and loud guitar. "The Mark Has Been Made" is a volatile experience to listen to, tensing up to a loud breakdown in the end, and what sounds like thousands of guitars growling at each other.

The Fragile also includes some of Reznor most beautiful, melodic, and soothing songs. The middle of the album acts as a bridge between the two loudest points. "No, You Don't" is like the climax of the first half, soon followed by a drastic mood change into the quiet "La Mer." The quiet parts are, at the same time, the most dark, saddening songs, too. "La Mer," a jazzy, almost therapeutic song, sung in french, happens to be the song that Reznor wrote as he was contemplating suicide. "The Great Below" is a song about drowning. The beautiful orchestra of "The Great Below" clouds the bitterness of the lyrics, as they slowly become more and more frighteningly suicidal. The left side ends in silence.

The Right side starts from the silence of "The Great Below," forming what sounds like recovery from death in "The Way Out is Through." The synth-driven intro is, in my opinion, the best intro Reznor has written, with it's gradual build-up and subtle lyrics. "Into The Void" begins from the intro's breakdown, beginning with xylophone and synth bass. Vocally, Reznor shines in "Into the Void," with what sounds like hundreds of his same voice. I can only imagine the time it took for him to put this together.

Comedy relief is the only way I could describe the infamous song, "Starfuckers, Inc." An angry rage shout-out towards modern pop culture, the song has ridiculous but memorable lyrics, and over-the-top chorus. It gets the blood flowing, and it's an unforgettable song.

The entire album is a silent masterpiece, as it is at times quieter than The Downward Spiral, and at some times a lot louder. The noise is more controlled in The Fragile, and it's clearer, and more melodic. The concept of the album is the frailty of life, and the tension of the human condition. With this said, it's easier to relate to than The Downward Spiral, which I think is crucial to an album, especially one as long as this one. That is why I think The Fragile is superior, but not much, to The Downward Spiral. I love it for it's tense beauty, its lyrical substance and its message of life: that we are all fragile, and should know our place.

user ratings (2388)
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Chewie (4.5)
    It’s the type of album where its problems upon first listen end up not being problems at...

    Killtacular (4)

    sapient (5)
    It's funny how everything you swore would never change is different now...

    tribestros (5)
    The most varied, atmospheric, and wild Nine Inch Nails release to date creates one of the ...

  • shindip (4)
    Trent Reznor creates a gorgeous, genre spanning album....

    ryanfabermi (5)
    More layered, textured, fastidiously recorded and re-recorded than any of his work to date...

    industrialjunkie92 (4.5)
    A mixed bag really. The Left disc sports a fuller sound and a high standard while the Righ...

    Killerhit (4.5)
    And the sea will come to kiss me, for I am going home....

  • breakingthefragile (1.5)
    “It didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, it didn’t turn out the way you wanted ...

    OrbDragon (4.5)

    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...

  • howdy123 (5)
    This album overall is one of Trent’s best works, musically, lyrically, and vocally. He ...

    ImAround (4)
    While this stunning double album comes with its flaws, the high points and the glimpses of...

Comments:Add a Comment 
June 25th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

Right, but why is it perfect?

June 25th 2012


Album Rating: 1.5

Yeah, this is why track by tracks aren't really a good idea, because when you give

individual ratings to each song they don't usually add up to the overall rating. Also,

you give no reasons for why this is a classic record and worthy of a 5, you just say

that there's no flaws. Just because a record doesn't have flaws doesn't automatically

mean the material itself is good enough to be classic.

June 25th 2012


Album Rating: 5.0

It's perfect because of its deep, raw emotion, that few records in history have. It has the few songs in Reznor's career that sound optimistic, and also captivates the darkest moments in his life.

June 25th 2012


Album Rating: 5.0

And yes, after writing this review, I think the track by track idea didn't capture what I really thought of the album.

Staff Reviewer
June 25th 2012


Album Rating: 5.0

I agree with your rating, but you need to concentrate on some highlights and the overall atmosphere more, especially when you have such a long record.. Also, if there are some bad tracks that don't belong here (not necessarily in this review), you can tell about them. Doing a track by track is hard and less rewarding if you don't talk about each one in details (for a double album is even harder). You could try and rework this one or remember the advice given to you by various users to improve your reviewing.

June 25th 2012


Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks, everyone! Appreciate the feedback. I joined this last night to review a couple of albums, and now I feel I should re-do this one. Is there a way I could do that?

June 25th 2012


Album Rating: 1.5

Well, the option to edit your reviews is unfortunately down, so the only way to redo this review may unfortunately be by deleting it completely. I would save this somewhere, rewrite it a bit, then resubmit. And yeah man, if you're gonna redo it, I would drop the track by track style completely if I were you, because track by tracks are very limiting, and pretty much the entire sputnik community agrees on that.

June 25th 2012


The review works better for someone that is already familiar with the sound of Nine Inch Nails, because of the brevity of the song-by-song reviews. Your opening was great; maybe you can try to discuss how the album works as a cohesive whole more.

June 26th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

The option to edit is back up again, at least for me. So if you want to edit the review, feel free.

June 26th 2012


Album Rating: 5.0

edited it. Please give me some feedback. I appreciate the feedback, as this is my first review here. Thanks, everyone!

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