Has Trent Reznor given up?
If you’ve read the headlines over the past week, the Nine Inch Nails founder has been blasting celebrities – Taylor Swift, for example – for staying quiet amidst political turmoil. “I have influence, and that it’s my job,” he stated. His demeanor has changed drastically over the three years it took for him to release his experimental trilogy of albums. It’s lead up to his breaking point.
Bad Witch is arguably the best of the three EPs, following 2016’s Not the Actual Events and last summer’s Add Violence. It also claims the loudest, angriest, and most hardcore song in years. “Ahead of Ourselves” is without a shadow of a doubt the angriest Reznor since his 2007 Year Zero, and the most hardcore since 1994’s masterpiece, The Downward Spiral. It’s also downright the most vicious, loud, and powerful track since “Burn” appeared on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack. Alternating “between anxious beats and jarring vocals”, the track echoes his frustration with the state of our society, while also sharing the deep hopelessness he’s feeling. “Why try change when you know you can’t?”
In a recent interview with the Guardian, he explained some of these feelings:
“We aren’t these enlightened beings, here to take care of each other and think about our benevolent role in the universe as protectors and creators – we’re just a fucking mutation and an accident.”
“We’ve got dumber, more tribalised; we’ve found niches of other people that focus on extremity. For the miracle of everyone sharing ideas, I see a hell of a lot more racism. It doesn’t feel like we’ve advanced. I think you’re seeing the fall of the empire of America in real time, before your eyes; the internet has eroded the fabric of decency in our civilization.”
Frustration breeds rage and Reznor lets it all out on “Ahead of Ourselves” and the accompanying album, Bad Witch (out today). If this were to be the final Nine Inch Nails album, for whatever reason, it certainly ends with a perfectly-timed punctuation mark.