Review Summary: When he went inside me, I didn't know! He made me do things...
As the quintessential stepping stone between the dated-sounding Pretty Hate Machine
and the organic, dangerous The Downward Spiral
, Nine Inch Nails’ 1992 release Broken
serves as an important moment in the band’s history. Recorded amidst a struggle to free himself and the project from the clutches of his label TVT, Trent Reznor secretly recorded the extended play’s tracks under various pseudonyms to avoid the interference of TVT executives with producer Flood, who worked on Pretty Hate Machine
’s “Head Like a Hole” and “Terrible Lie”. Described as being “slave-traded”, Nine Inch Nails were now on Interscope, and with more creative freedom, Reznor’s latest work Broken
perfectly defined the sound of the Nine Inch Nails project for the imminent future – a raw, brashly edgy industrial rock sound that oozed with sexuality and despair.
, while introducing this new sound, did not perfect it like later Nine Inch Nails records would, and at times loses itself in its hellishly manic chaos instead of wallowing in it; cuts like “Wish”, “Happiness in Slavery” and “Gave Up” all combine the Pretty Hate Machine
synthpop techniques of old with jaggedly abrasive guitar destruction that perfectly complement Reznor’s ever-brooding lyrical tics. “Physical”, an Adam and the Ants cover, trudges along with sludgy riffage and an increasingly lusty vocal that only gives a preview of just how far
Reznor would go two years later with the infamous “I want to fuck you like an animal” bit from 1994’s “Closer”, while the Pigface cut “Suck” fits in perfectly with the Reznor vocabulary with lines such as “There’s no God in the sky tonight” to pepper Broken
with more songs that cross the bridge between the lingering angst on Pretty Hate Machine
and the self-destructive bottomless pit of rage that embodied the concept of The Downward Spiral
. This isn’t squeaky-clean fun for the whole family; it’s disgusting, repulsive, vile and outrageously dirty – it’s Broken