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Classic Album Reviews - Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral

Hi guys!

Welcome to my first classic album review, I hope to do quite a few of these as well as my new album reviews. Today, I've decided to review an album from my current favourite band, Nine Inch Nails. This album is to some one of the greatest rock albums of all time, and that's justified, as we're going to explore now. Here we go!

1. Mr. Self Destruct
This is a very hard-rocking track which describes what can be interpreted as multiple personality disorder, there seems to be someone else controlling this person from within, ultimately attempting to destroy him. The song ends with some very cool guitar riffs.

2. Piggy
This track is the first of many animal references on the album, which implies how inhumane the speaker has become. Thee song is mainly bass driven, though it contains a drum kit played by Reznor prominently throughout the song, which is not a common occurrence for a NIИ song. Some organ also comes in during the second verse and some piano in the outro. It all flows very well.

3. Heresy
A rather heavy anti-religion song, it starts out with three different keyboards and Reznor singing in falsetto, while whispering quietly in the background. The chorus literally screams "Your god is dead and no one cares," this can be a reference to the person the speaker is becoming, as he is removing himself from things like religion which most normal people would be careful around. The verse also has a very cool, catchy guitar riff.

4. March of the Pigs
Another animal reference, this song is driven by guitar and keyboard. The song is basically about the war of his two personalities, the humans versus the pigs. The song has a break in the centre which fades out with a piano and the song comes to a complete halt, only to resume a few seconds later with the heavy verse. This repeats again and the song comes to an end. The song is notorious for the silence in the centre which often leads people to believe that the song is over. In the end, the song proclaims that the pigs have won.

5. Closer
The song that everyone remembers. The song is led by an electronic drum sample and several keyboards mixed and layered over the top as well as a clicking sound for another beat. The song again points to the characters downward spiral away from humanity, becoming less sociable and demanding things in threatening ways, such as "I wanna fuck you like an animal." There is a very cool interlude with a repeating guitar riff which gets louder and louder. The outro is just epic, it layers many different keyboard riffs over everything that is already there just to create a clusterfuck of sound in your head. What a tune.

6. Ruiner
This song is keyboard driven and again focuses on the two personalities clashing. It also features a prominent sample that sounds like altered squeaking mice during the verse. The chorus consists of keyboards programmed to sound like trumpets and a muffled Reznor singing easily misinterpreted lyrics. This is the first song on the album to have a guitar solo, over an incredibly cool bass line, which only gets cooler. The bass line changes and becomes distorted while Reznor whispers "Nothing can stop me now," similarly to Piggy.

7. The Becoming
This song focuses mainly on the negative personality and his side of the story. There is a sample of people screaming during the verse, which may refer to people reacting to the scene this character is creating. The lyrics focus on how the original personality of the character is being destroyed by the negative one. The music is bass played on a keyboard over a very obscure drum beat. There is an interlude which is very calm guitar chords with Reznor "ahh"ing over the top. This is repeated for the outro.

8. I Do Not Want This
This is a piano driven track that focuses on the broken down old persona of the character, telling us all how terrible he has become and tries to fight back, implied by the "Don't you tell me how I feel" line in the chorus. Throughout the song, it is shown how he is getting weaker and near the end of the song, it shows how he has given in and the evil personality chants "I wanna know everything, I wanna be everywhere, I wanna fuck everyone in the world, I wanna do something that matters."

9. Big Man With a Gun
This short but heavy song shows us the evil persona travelling around, attacking people with his 'gun'. The song is keyboard driven and some guitar appears later in the verse and is prominent in the chorus. At the end of the song, there is a massive static noise which ends very suddenly, seguing into the next track.

10. A Warm Place
This is a lovely quiet track, the first instrumental on the album. It is mainly driven by two guitars playing the same line quietly out of sync, but a piano appears about a minute in. There is an interlude that lasts two bars and then the epic, trumpet led outro begins, repeats several times, then the song fades out with a strange sound effect which leads us into the next track.

11. Eraser
This is the probably the strangest track on the album. It begins with the sample that ended A Warm Place then effects that sound like moaning creatures are added on top. Soon drums and a keyboard appear and a weird but addictive guitar line is added on top. Some lyrics appear near the end of the song which again demonstrate the monster this person now is.

12. Reptile
This is possibly my favourite song on the entire album, though I do question it's inclusion as it seems to have nothing to do with the concept. The song opens with a sample which sounds like an underground train station then an electronic sample is brought in and the drums and guitar kick in shortly afterwards. The drums and bass are repeated throughout pretty much the entire song. A new guitar line is introduced for the verse, which is basically the same note repeated. many times. The verse after the chorus is far more epic trumpet emulating keyboards are added and an awesome guitar line is played after every line.

13. The Downward Spiral
The penultimate track is entirely instrumental. The piano outro from Closer is taken and played on an acoustic guitar for this song as well as some other samples in the background. About half way through though, a soothing guitar line is added that is noticeably down-tuned with some odd sound effects in the background, but an orchestra comes in. All of a sudden, Trent Reznor screaming is quietly added in the background but the evil personality talking about what will happen is also included. The tracks ends with a fade.

14. Hurt
A very beautiful guitar driven song about the suicide of the main character. There is a strange lack of instruments in this song that makes is so beautifully unique and different from the others. In the chorus he ponders upon what he's become and why he has to kill himself to stop the other personality from destroying anything else. Some piano is introduced in the second half of the chorus along with Reznors haunting vocals echoing. At the very end of the song, an incredibly loud note is played on an electric guitar, leaving over one minutes worth of feedback, almost as if someone has fired a gun. 

I give the album 5/5 stars. That is all.
Classic Album Reviews - Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral Classic Album Reviews - Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral Reviewed by Jack Wright on Wednesday, February 06, 2013 Rating: 5

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