When put in the context of certain albums, an instrumental song can shift the mood, vibe and all the in between. For years, I’ve always loved (shocker I know) the Nine Inch Nails song “A Warm Place.” I’ll never forget hearing it for the first time when I was younger and how the shift of The Downward Spiral turned when this song came on right after “Big Man With A Gun” and before “Eraser.” The way this song captivated me then and still to this day is pretty interesting. On one side you have this really delicate piece of music that has a calming sense to it. Then on the flip side of it, knowing that it’s part of something more and how it leads into “Eraser” makes it one of those songs to bridge a certain section of an album together. A song like “A Warm Place” is more reflective and introspective and in the context of The Downward Spiral, it gives you a moment in time to soak in all of what has happened, knowing what is inevitable in the end. Getting to hear this song live over the years too has given me all sorts of different vibes from it. The 1, 2 punch though of “A Warm Place” into “Eraser” on the album is truly one of those that to this day gives me chills. If you ever need a little break from everything, I recommend taking 3 and a half minutes out of your day and putting this song on and letting it just take you away.
Nine Inch Nails- A Warm Place:
Nine Inch Nails- A Warm Place, Eraser, Dead Souls (Live 2018):
When you think of guitar solos, Nine Inch Nails is probably not very high on the first ones that come to mind. That is about to change though. On the epic masterpiece of an album that is The Downward Spiral, there is a song on there that has a guitar solo that oozes the pain and anguish that perfectly coincides with the thematic nature of the record. That song is “Ruiner” and it’s one of the most underrated songs on the album. The solo on the song is actually inspired by Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” Trent was interviewed by Guitar World magazine years ago and this is what he had to say about the solo, “Ah yes, the great, Pink Floyd-esque, Seventies-sounding section of the song. That’s just a preset on the Zoom. I think I accidentally called up the wrong patch. I’m not a soloist. I was just laughing when I was playing with this ridiculous sound, recording into the computer saying like, “This is so cheesy,” you know? I later realized that I basically tried to play a “Comfortably Numb”-type solo with this sound. I played the song for Chris, our drummer, and I was thinking, “He’s going to start laughing. It’s silly.” But he goes, “Man, that guitar section was fucking great.” Anyways, this solo when “Ruiner” is played live is stunning.
Nine Inch Nails- Ruiner:
Nine Inch Nails- Ruiner (Live at The Wiltern 2009- FINAL Wave Goodbye Show):
It’s no secret that I have a deep affinity for Nine Inch Nails. Ever since I first heard the band back in 1990, I’ve been enthralled by what Trent has created. Each album has it’s own unique way of taking you on this journey that is really hard to explain. It’s like you are sucked in to every emotion and ride the wave. That’s part of what makes Nine Inch Nails albums so great. From start to finish and with every listen there is something special about the songs and how the ebb and flow just takes you away. So, take a deeper dive into the end of album songs by Nine Inch Nails.
Ringfinger (from Pretty Hate Machine):
Suck (from Broken):
Hurt (from The Downward Spiral):
Ripe With Decay (from The Fragile):
Right Where It Belongs (from With Teeth):
Zero Sum (from Year Zero):
Demon Seed (from The Slip):
Black Noise (from Hestitation Marks):
Burning Bright (Field On Fire) (from Not The Actual Events):
The “title track” topic is quite fun. The title track is one of those songs that has always left a mark with me. I’m sure many of you out there, like myself, like to really delve into the “why” part of albums. As I mentioned before, these songs seem to have a certain vibe that brings the whole album together. Check out these songs by Nine Inch Nails and then go back and listen to the albums as a whole.
Somehow through all the trials and tribulations of life Trent Reznor was able to create amazing albums. Coming off a 5 year hiatus after the release of the highly influential and masterful album The Downward Spiral, Trent finally released The Fragile. While The Downward Spiral had heavily distorted instruments and dark industrial sounds. The Fragile relished in lush soundscapes electronic wizardry, ambient noise, heavy rock guitars, and vocal harmonies. The end result is uncompromising. The way Trent was able to capture the sheer torment and agony thorough his music and lyrics was beyond untouchable.
Each of the sides seems to represent something unique to the inner workings of Trent. The first disc (aka The Left), is easily the more accessible part of the album. Starting with “Somewhat Damaged” which communicates the state of mind/concept that this album is about. “The Day The World Went Away” really delivers. The ambience plays perfectly into the distorted guitars. The segue “The Frail” is a beautiful precursor to the wreckage that is “The Wretched” which is wonderfully angry. “We’re In This Together” is vulnerable and delicate while being able to still hold onto the rage inside of Trent. “The Fragile” is a love song of sorts or a plea to the one who is the apple of his eye. The instrumental “Just Like You Imagined” is a gem on it’s own. The vibe this song puts out is driving and near inspirational. “Even Deeper” gets more involved lyrically and exposes more of Trent. “Pilgrimage” is another segue that leads us deeper down the tunnel and away from the light. “No, You Don’t” picks up where “Pilgrimage” ended and explodes with heaviness. “La Mer” is a song that Trent said he wrote when he was in such a dark place. There is something about that song the way it blends perfectly into “The Great Below” which closes out the left side beautifully. This song also acts as the end of a chapter.
The right side (disc 2) starts with “The Way Out Is Through.” In a way this song is the further descent into a personal hell. “Into The Void” deals with more of the personal issues, with a heavier vibe. “Where Is Everybody?” has a really cool deconstructed electronic beat that creates a really nice tension throughout the song. “The Mark Has Been Made” is another instrumental/segue that takes us further down the rabbit hole. “Please” has more of an industrial edge to it. “Star Fuckers Inc.” is just a really nice “Fuck You” to all those that irritated and got under the skin of Trent. The guitar tracks on this song are full of heavy goodness. “Complication” takes a step towards the more industrial dance laced beats. It kind of foreshadows where his music is heading. “I’m Looking Forward To Joining You, Finally” is a solemn song, as it exposes his want to say goodbye permanently. “The Big Come Down” furthers his not light at the end concept. Musically this is a very unique song filled with melody. “Underneath It All” is a gritty song which keeps the deconstruction alive. Ending the album is “Ripe (With Decay)” this instrumental plays like the close of a life or chapter. There is something special about this song, in that all the quiet sounds and stark instrumentation really helps to sum up all the songs.
The Fragile to me is a marvelous album that can’t be touched. I’d dare even put it above The Downward Spiral. Both are so unique and perfect it’s hard to pick just one. I guess it all depends on ones mood. Trent Reznor is a musical genius. His ability to delve deep and create something so real is inspiring. It’s not easy to create 1 masterpiece. Trent was able to do it twice.