Mapping the space between celestial calm and primordial anger; there is no one quite like Nine Inch Nails.
The band’s new EP Add Violence draws heavily upon the hurt, anger, and desperation resting inside all of us as we hurtle through space and encounter confounding life experiences along the way. Trent Reznor himself has never been shy about baring his flaws and insecurities through art, and this is just part of what makes his meticulous, studied approach stand out. More than anything, it’s his status as an auteur of sound and experimentation within his chosen medium that makes him great, with even the most complex and unconventional sound-making tools used efficiently to create a one-of-a-kind artistic experience.
Blaring opener “Less Than” charges out of the gate with a driving synth-pop arrangement that refuses to let up. In “Welcome oblivion,” Reznor snarls over an infectious chorus that cuts out before we are even allowed to feel welcome in this world. The haunting second track “The Lovers,” functions almost like a foil to “Less Than,” discarding a straight ahead 4/4 feel for a bounding, pensive drum loop that perfectly supplements a ghostly lyrical rumination on the discord between consciousness and societal pressure.
Though characteristically, Reznor loves to work with mangled and distorted sounds (most evident on the apocalyptic closer “The Background World”), the overall production value is great enough to render these tarnished experiments curiously interesting. Many transitional moments on the EP are sonically unique and deeply satisfying, and capitalize well on the brevity of the short-length format, with sufficient emotional detail to merit several repeat listens.
Trent Reznor has always aimed to make immortal art in a disposable musical landscape. With Add Violence, the honesty of that sentiment is felt throughout. Though the lyrics and arrangements can tend toward a familiar stylistic classicism, it is evident that every inch of this release was labored over with the sole intent of driving home a fulfilling, awakening, and in-your-face brilliant experience. Mission accomplished.