REVIEW: NINE INCH NAILS – HESITATION MARKS

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Reviewed by Mark Plummer

First off, it’s important to acknowledge that this is a brand new album, with brand new music. Perhaps a pedantic comment to make, but with the lack of tact that hardcore Nine Inch Nails devotees have approached Hesitation Marks with, a necessary one. This is not Pretty Hate Machine, nor is it The Downward Spiral and, it is also not The Fragile; this is a new album, with new music. If you’re going to complain that an artist is not reproducing their sound of days gone by, then I suggest taking your Peter Pan complex elsewhere.

Hesitation Marks heralds an album full of progression on a deeply personal level, that translates through both the music and lyrics; in essence you can feel Reznor’s personal side creeping through each individual track. The electro-industrial opening of Copy of A is  haunting and familiar, whilst Came Back Haunted holds a resemblance to both The Hand That Feeds (With Teeth, 2007) and ends holding a flame to Closer (The Downward Spiral, 1994). Given the title, some resemblances are a happy requirement, opening Trent Reznor up to the fact that he is both acknowledging his past as well as making forward progression and not being consumed in his earlier creations. Both of these openers are the closest links to any previous NIN’s release.

The quick paced Everything sticks out above the rest with its radio friendly length as well as an abundance of positive energy. Lyrically, there is a real belief in the subjects message, here is an industrial-rock artist, divulging positive energies: ‘I am home, I believe, I am home, I am free, I am home, I can see, always here, finally’. Whilst Satellite welcomes back the darker and more broody side of the album the drum machine is very much routed in the style and sound of Pretty Hate Machine; it’s grown up and not as lacking in the bass (nor as raw), but very rich in timbre.

Overall, this is an unusual release; perhaps the shock of not having an industrial onslaught is slightly unnerving. On more than a few occasions, there seems to be darts back to the Nine Inch Nails of old – the drum machine working overtime to supply a more old school 80s approach, although refusing to cross the line into a full blown pop record, period. Then there are the synth pads that linger here and there, Downward Spiral-esque in sound, hovering in the background. Whilst it does appear to drag a little towards the end and seem stretched, this may well be one of the more accessible Nine Inch Nails records. Either way, this would appear to be a very love or hate record amongst the purists.

4 out of 5

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