Release Date: Jul 21, 2017
Record label: The Null Corporation
It's for the same reason that he's now directly comparable to James Murphy , who's previously expressed an interest in collaborating with NIN but who, in stylistic terms, you can't imagine Reznor would be predisposed to enjoy; Murphy's appetite for frantic disco is a long way from both the near-nihilism of NIN's darkest moments and the prickly, no-nonsense front that the industrial rockers' lynchpin puts up in interviews. Nine Inch Nails and LCD Soundsystem have followed strikingly similar arcs in recent years, in that both made an enormous song and dance of the fact that thy were splitting up, and then reconvened within a timeframe that would probably have been accepted as a standard hiatus, if only they'd posited it as such in the first place. The point being that every time that Reznor and his chief collaborator Atticus Ross release any new music nowadays, it has to be good enough to justify them touring the world under the banner 'Wave Goodbye', symbolically selling all of their gear off at the end of it, and then deciding within four years that actually, what the world needed was another Nine Inch Nails album.
Trent's back! Again! Hooray! Following on from Not The Actual Events, which Nine Inch Nails released late last year, Add Violence is the second in an apparent trilogy of EPs, and continues the thread of new NIN really rather nicely. These EPs mark the first major material - excluding the instrumental 'Ghosts' project - Reznor's put his band name to since 2013's album Hesitation Marks, a largely enjoyable, if a little overlong excursion into the more synth-based area of their sound - perhaps due to synthesiser maestro Alessandro Cortini's influence, it nevertheless was interesting to see NIN adopt a more synthetic sound, echoing early chapters of the band's line-up, but updating it into the twenty-first century. It was synth music, but angry synth music.
Trent Reznor has always aspired to the artistic malleability of David Bowie, tweaking his sound and vision with each release while twisting his kaleidoscope of grays into different shades of anguish. Like the late Thin White Duke, he's made missteps (his remix EPs never "fixed" anything, and his glitchy How to Destroy Angels space-pop detour could be his Tin Machine), but also like Bowie, he's always regained his footing, funneling his anxieties into new teeth-gnashing horrorscapes. His soundtrack work in recent years with his Nine Inch Nails partner Atticus Ross has given him an outlet to experiment outside of his nom de synth-rock, forcing new vitality into his NIN outings of late for even harsher, more potent music.
It's a scary time for Nine Inch Nails. Not that the band or its founder/leader Trent Reznor seems at risk of getting sucked back into the substance abuse, label shenanigans, and self-destructive personal demons that characterized their first turbulent decade of existence. In fact, Add Violence and the matching EP that preceded it, Not the Actual Events, are the first NIN releases to include an official band member other than Reznor, Atticus Ross.
The demise of the CD as the format of choice for top-tier artists, as well as the steady shrinking of our attention spans (down to an average of eight seconds, according to one controversial study), might have been the best thing to happen to Nine Inch Nails. Or maybe it’s the bitter bargain they’ve had to enter into that keeps core members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on the road more than ever and doing film score work to make ends meet instead of tinkering in a studio for ages. Whatever the reason, the narrowing of their vision to an EP's length has only made them stronger, more direct.
Subtract noise, multiply choruses, divide fanbase. There's nothing on Add Violence that Nine Inch Nails fans haven't heard before. Maybe this is a strange criticism of a thirty-year-old project largely masterminded by one artist; possibly it's even the point. But Not the Actual Events proved economically that there were still unexplored vistas for Reznor and co., even if they involved slathering fuzz and noise on top of the tracks until they sounded like staticky transmissions from the heart of a nuclear winter.
When Not the Actual Events , Nine Inch Nails' inaugural EP of a supposedly-busy coming year, surfaced in December, it didn't really feel like the "band" had gone anywhere since their last release, 2013's Hesitation Marks . Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the duo responsible for the band's past several recordings, spent that time working through various soundtrack projects, even contributing the occasional track with vocals along the way. In 2016 alone, they released two major film scores .