Reviews Nine Inch Nails With Teeth

Nine Inch Nails

With Teeth

Pretty Hate Machine, The Downward Spiral, The Fragile - you name any of these titles to a Nine Inch Nails fan and they could probably give you a whole host of reasons why it's their favorite album. Then, of course, they'd inundate you with any number of words to describe front man/founder Trent Reznor: Genius, brilliant, twisted, brilliantly twisted genius and all variations thereof, and for the most part, they'd be right.

But all good things must come to an end, and sadly, With Teeth is not genius, is not brilliant and it's not even twisted. What it is, is their (and when I say "their", we all know any praise or blame rests solely on the shoulders of Reznor alone) most accessible album since 1989's Pretty Hate Machine. This isn't growth, folks - this is regression.

Beginning with "All the Love in the World", With Teeth sets a mid-tempo groove that with the very odd exception isn't really broken for the duration of the album. Gone are the dense and sometimes beautiful soundscapes that made up The Fragile and also gone are the aggression and sheer energy of The Downward Spiral. What remains are rehashes of the same old Reznor charm/tricks. The quiet-noise-quiet method is as rampant as ever - as is the descending scale piano used much more effectively on The Fragile's "Just Like You Imagined".

One of the album's bright spots, "The Hand That Feeds" manages to rise above the overall tone of the album and provide the listener with something to remember when it's all over. The same can also be said for "Getting Smaller", the song that must have made guest drummer Dave Grohl reach for the muscle relaxants. Indeed, Mr. Grohl provides almost all drums on the album; a valiant effort - but for a better final result, check out his work on Killing Joke's self-titled album from 2003, his finest drum work to date.

This is probably as stripped down an album as we're ever likely to see from Mr. Reznor, which could have been intriguing but the result instead is a 13 track album of banality that follows an almost maddening paint by numbers structure of verse-chorus-verse meandering from unmemorable song to unmemorable song. So while the most ardent of fans will be sure to try and defend With Teeth's merit, ask them to rate the NIN albums in order and see which one gets final mention.

5.5 / 10Kevin Fitzpatrick
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