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Monday, Nov 24, 2014
"Happiness in Slavery" is a standout from Nine Inch Nails' early output not for its confrontational nature, but as a showcase for Trent Reznor's acumen as a musician and a producer.

“Slave screams!” As with “Last”, the fifth (officially listed) track on Broken goes straight for the jugular. A dense cacophony of earth-shuddering rhythms, scything guitar and keyboards, and savage screams, “Happiness in Slavery” is tied with “Wish” for the title of the EP’s standout song, and is probably its most recognizable.


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Tuesday, Nov 18, 2014
For its third and fourth tracks, Broken arms itself with a bludgeoning wall of sound, followed by silent, creeping dread

The drifting ambiance that fills out the closing seconds of “Wish” is a brief respite before the Broken EP continues on with its rage-fuelled march with “Last”. Take heed and prepare yourself before pressing the “Play” button: “Last” is loud. A seemingly impossibly huge wall of guitars slams against the ears the instant the song starts, and the onslaught scarcely relents until the track finishes.


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Wednesday, Nov 12, 2014
“This is the first day / Of my last days." Nine Inch Nails' 1992 EP begins by gradually building up tension, then releasing it in caustic (yet controlled) outbursts that earned the act a Grammy Award.

Even working within the constraints of the EP format’s short runtime, Trent Reznor takes pains to open Broken with a sense of occasion. The first track is “Pinion”, a scant one minute and three seconds of an ascending guitar pattern gradually increasing in volume. When described that way, it doesn’t sound very exciting. That’s because “Pinion” is meant to be listened to, preferably with headphones on in order to appreciate the ambient noises that are also percolating in the background, slowly building up body and dread. The guitars are heavily processed and most likely sampled—note the disjointed quality of the chords, which is audible evidence of digital cut-and-pasting.


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Tuesday, Nov 11, 2014
Nine Inch Nails' 1992 EP is half an hour of visceral, undiluted anger delivered through muscular, caustic guitars and Trent Reznor's anguished screams. It is concise, focused, and arguably the pinnacle of Nine Inch Nails' discography.

Trent Reznor: industrial auteur, Generation X icon, Grammy Award winner, lavishly-praised film composer, and, as of recent months, a first-year eligible entry on this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ballot. When Reznor was toiling late nights to piece together the first Nine Inch Nails album Pretty Hate Machine (1989), did he ever conceive that the angst-laden electronic/rock hybrid he was fashioning would immortalize him so? Whether he had or not, any dissection of a career that now spans a quarter of a century will surely confirm that the man has thoroughly earned it.


Through the popular music lens that typically views artists’ output in terms of albums and singles, Nine Inch Nails’ story starts with Pretty Hate Machine and them jumps five years later to The Downward Spiral (1994), Reznor’s ambitious magnum opus. Or to put it another way, the story moves from “Head Like a Hole” to “Closer” and “Hurt”, with little elaboration between. However, such a bare-bone narrative of the NIN story leaves out an essential chapter, one that’s easy for the uninformed skip over in the CD racks due to its slight six-item tracklist and therefore perceived inferior content-to-price value quotient.


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Monday, Nov 3, 2014
The final song on Green Day's 2004 masterpiece paints a haunting portrait of romantic regret and longing that just about every listener can relate to.

As I said last time in this series, American Idiot essentially ended with “Homecoming”, as Jesus of Suburbia’s journey came full circle and found its resolution.  He didn’t become the rebellious punk antihero/savior he set out to be, but he was able to find solace in himself and the world in which he lives, accepting that life is meant to be screwed up and scary, yet ultimately full of possibilities too. However, it’s precisely those unfulfilled prospects and vague uncertainties that shape who we are and perpetually haunt us, nagging at the backs of our minds for answers that will never come.


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