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EP Review: Nine Inch Nails – Add Violence

3 min read
photo: John Crawford

Nine Inch Nails will soon mark their 3rd decade as a band, and having outlasted many of their predecessors; they’re still showing no signs of calming down. Add Violence is only the third EP to be released during the bands history, with frontman Trent Reznor delivering a succinct five track journey through the classic NIN sound.

 Less Than is driven by frenetic synths that ping through the ears like an old school pinball game. Rezone’s voice is measured in its anger, delivering an increasingly irate message against apathy. Asking “is this what you came for?” again and again as if to prod the world into a higher state of awareness.

After the full on opener, NIN then delve deeper into their subconscious with the spoken-word led The Lovers. Here we find Reznor at his most eloquent and retrospective, his voice barely audible above an alien melody that will not sit well with casual listeners by any means.

This Isn’t The Place drones on as though it is an off-cut from some other rejected demo, until once more Reznor takes relaxed control of the situation – taming the experimental sounds into submission. This track errs a little too close to the line between style over substance; and sadly for the wrong reasons. Towards the end it feels as though it’s dragging longer than the Trump presidency, before dropping off completely in a flicker of chaotically calming piano.

It’s all hands to the pump as the almost gunshot-like stabs of Not Anymore once more awaken the sleeping NIN beast. Where the rest of the EP is held back and subtle, this track darts and dashes all over the place and could probably stand to take some Ritalin. Echoing shouts of “I won’t forget who I am” rally around a total sonic cacophony indicating Reznor taming an impending identity crisis with his own mind.

The industrial feel to The Background World is far from cold and hardened, in fact it provides one of the more tender lyrical journeys from the EP. It is the soundtrack for those losing hope with the world, but are still able to cling to one shred of hope for dear life. Again, it is calm and concise; but at eleven minutes and forty four seconds long, there is a lot of emotional ground to wade through. At about the five minute mark, there is an added injection of power, but you would be forgiven for suddenly thinking there to be a problem with your headphones or speaker system as it gradually builds to an unlistenable haze.

The reputation of Nine Inch Nails proceeds them, the iconic band are still headlining festivals and putting out music at a time when sadly many of their contemporaries are falling victim to the trappings of rock n roll. Add Violence feels like one of their most focused releases to date, with nothing but the music and the words detracting from the powerful subliminal messages that litter this EP.