Well, that was fast. Back in the fall, Trent Reznor took Nine Inch Nails on the road for a tour he called “Wave Goodbye,” which was meant to represent the retirement of Nine Inch Nails as a band. But Reznor didn’t hang up the musical spurs for long, as he is back with How to Destroy Angels, a group that consists of himself, wife (and former West Indian Girl singer) Mariqueen Maandig and producer Atticus Ross (who has provided studio trickery for the last four Nine Inch Nails releases and recently produced Coheed and Cambria’s Year of the Black Rainbow).
In keeping with recent trends, Reznor has provided the entirety of How to Destroy Angels’ self-titled debut EP for free (though if you want a higher-quality recording with a new high-definition video, that will cost you two bucks). Though the EP doesn’t carry the Nine Inch Nails name, the music is consistent with Reznor’s latter-day output. It’s a series of claustrophobic ambient soundscapes interrupted by blasts of distorted rock and stuttering dance beats. Most of the vocals are handled by Maandig, who infuses the tracks with a haunting humanity and a lovely sense of melody.
“The Space in Between” is a typical track that begins with a simple drum beat and slowly adds wailing synthesizers, multiple vocal tracks and a growing sense of dread. But the standout track is by far “Parasite,” which would have fit in perfectly on Nine Inch Nails’ final studio album The Slip. It has punishing computerized drums, a rugged bass roll and enough guitar squalls to remind you that this is essentially a rock record. “Fur Lined” is a fantastic piece of death disco, while “A Drowning” unfurls a harrowing downward spiral of sound over seven glorious minutes.
You can download the free EP by clicking here. Just like The Slip, the debut EP from How to Destroy Angels is a remarkably accomplished collection, especially considering Reznor is giving it away for nothing in return (save for your e-mail address). He may not be driving Nine Inch Nails anymore, but Reznor still has enough bite to work, and the addition of his wife and his longtime co-producer will make How to Destroy Angels a true player on the rock landscape.
What do you think of Trent Reznor’s new band? Let us know in the comments!