Nine Inch Nails

Nothing/Interscope Records, 1992

REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk


Trent Reznor is one pissed-off dude. Pissed off, writhing in emotional agony, and lashing out at everything and everyone who comes close enough to bask in the corrosive burn of his personal wrath. Some people, when they get hurt, curl up and pout, lamenting whatever wrongs were done to them. Some tighten down the emotional screws until the pressure draws blood. Trent is definitely the latter.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Broken is one solid blast of unmitigated hopelessness and rage. Every track drips with venom. Each song is like a whip, flaying his psyche and laying bear raw, stinging flesh to pour fresh salt into. Where does all this anger come from? Reznor was going through legal problems with his record label at the time, which would certainly get ones hackles up, but I can't believe there isn't a bad, bad breakup behind this outpouring of emotion.

It's bad enough to be full of loathing, but worse when feel it looking in the mirror. It's hard to figure out who he hates more, whoever it was that hurt him, or he himself. On the track "Wish," Reznor exclaims: "I put my faith in god and my trust in you, Now there's nothing more fucked up I could do".

On the next track "Last," he counters with: "Look through these blackened eyes, you'll see ten thousand lies "My lips may promise but my heart is a whore."

From beginning to end, this disc creates a raw, grating symphony of pain and discomfort. Even the short instrumental tracks have an unnerving quality that feels tainted in some way. This is not a happy collection of songs. There is no joy here. Even the sexual pleading of the Adam Ant cover "Physical" is both a plea for release, and a warning to stay away.

Musically, the disc is a masterpiece of caustic industrial metal. Grinding, blistering, obnoxious and spectacular. Reznor takes the groundwork started with his debut Pretty Hate Machine, and creates an even heavier and emotionally charged set of songs. He does this in a more chaotic, yet mature fashion, sustaining a continuous texture of raging angst that propels the listener through his personal hell. Anyone familiar with NIN's later work owes it to themselves to listen to this. This is still in my opinion, Trent Reznor's best work to date.

Rating: A-

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© 2004 Bruce Rusk and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Nothing/Interscope Records, and is used for informational purposes only.