Review Summary: What is hidden in snow, comes forth in the thaw.
In 2009, Trent Reznor announced that Nine Inch Nails were essentially on hiatus after the release of 2008’s ambient Ghosts I-IV
and The Slip
, which felt like a good balance of old and new. Understandably, fans were disappointed at the prospect of not hearing a new Nine Inch Nails album for a long time. When it was revealed in 2010 that Trent
, alongside frequent collaborator Atticus Ross
, would be scoring David Fincher’s
film The Social Network
, fans were sceptical but also excited at the prospect of two people who make such dark music collaborating with a director who has a penchant for dark, captivating films. The score was almost universally loved and it even picked up a Grammy. That brings us to 2011 and after the success of The Social Network
, it was decided that Trent and Atticus should score Fincher’s then- upcoming adaptation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
And it’s absolutely terrifying. Make no mistake, just like the film; this soundtrack is dark, unnerving, chilling and filled with wintry soundscapes ranging from electronic drum beats to subtle wind chimes. Only 2 pieces contain vocals, both are covers. The first is an industrialized rendition of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song
, featuring vocals from Karen O
. This song is a fantastic introduction to the soundtrack as a whole, though you couldn't really consider it an accurate representation of what awaits. The second is Is Your Love Strong Enough
, originally performed by Brian Ferry
and featuring vocals from Trent’s wife, Mariqueen Maandig
. It serves as a closer to the soundtrack and is possesses a very sombre tone, with Mariqueen’s haunting vocals over soft industrial beats creating a feeling of closure. Hearing a human voice after almost three hours of bleak instrumental music certainly feels like a light at the end of the tunnel.
doesn't deviate remarkably from The Social Network
but that doesn’t mean it’s a rehash. Like The Social Network
, this is a cohesive album with an excellent flow but with this album being significantly longer than The Social Network
, it is allowed more time to breathe and uncoil. I haven’t listened to the three disks of this album consecutively but the soundtrack as a whole perfectly complements the snowy Swedish landscape that is featured so prominently in the film. Trent and Atticus were tasked with creating a soundtrack that perfectly complements such a long and complex film and they have pulled it of excellently. What you have to remember is that a soundtrack should not only complement the experience but also add to it, and this soundtrack certainly succeeds in that department.
Hidden In Snow
is one of my favourite pieces from the soundtrack. There is a dark and foreboding synth in the background with wind chime sounds featuring innocently above it, blissfully unaware of the danger that lurks behind. This synth becomes increasingly louder as it begins to drown out the chimes and take over the remaining minutes of the track. This then leads into A Thousand Details
. It is a much more immediate track than its predecessor, featuring a dark piano and a distorted but minimal guitar. This guitar builds up with the piano creating an overwhelming and, at times, harrowing experience. But not all tracks have to be immediate and forceful to convey a message or guide a scene from the film. Just take Pinned And Mounted
. This accompanies the genuinely horrifying and upsetting rape scene. It begins with an almost tribal drum beat at a relatively slow tempo. As the nightmare progresses, wandering synths are introduced. For a brief time everything becomes quieter before it builds up again, but the synth is beginning to grow louder and louder with an understated glockenspiel in the background. It is a truly distressing song and when you put it in context it only becomes more traumatic.
Some may find the length of this soundtrack overwhelming and unnecessary but I couldn’t imagine it any other way. Trent and Atticus are really pushing the boundaries of what is possible with film scoring. This score and the film both come with a very high recommendation, just be prepared to go to a dark place you may never have been before.