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How to Destroy Angels

How to Destroy Angels EP

[Null Corporation; 2010]

By ; June 4, 2010 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

When Trent Reznor announced late last year that he was tabling Nine Inch Nails for a while after a final run of club gigs, the line of reasoning went that he wanted to have a personal life, a luxury that two decades of constant recording, touring, and—for one dark period around the turn of the century—rehab had never allowed him. He had just gotten engaged recently to Mariqueen Maandig, a former Playboy model and singer for the band West Indian Girl, and wanted to settle down and start a family. But to the surprise of absolutely no one, Reznor’s newfound love life, as things in his life tend to do, turned into a musical project: the debut six-song EP from How To Destroy Angels, released for free online earlier this week.

While it’s great to see Reznor making music again, it is clear that HTDA as a band is still very much finding its voice. The project is still in its embryonic stage (Reznor has hinted that a full-length LP is due in early 2011). Reznor and Maandig clearly have considerable personal chemistry, but they’re still developing musical compatibility. The bulk of How To Destroy Angels sounds like leftover instrumental tracks from the Fragile sessions with Maandig’s whisper of a voice overdubbed on top of them.

The EP is bookended by the two strongest tracks, opener “The Space in Between” and closer “A Drowning,” which are highlighted by melodies as strong as anything Reznor ever wrote in the 1990s. But anybody who’s ever listened to NIN isn’t going to get anything new from this project musically. Mechanical drums and washes of keyboard, ominous piano, and textural guitars are the sound. It sounds good, but it doesn’t do a whole lot to distinguish itself from any entry in the NIN catalog. This is a new band in name only.

Trent Reznor has never been known to repeat himself, so I’m holding out hope for the group’s upcoming LP to put a different spin on Reznor’s signature brooding industrial attack. While this EP has its moments, it doesn’t establish itself as anything more than a set of very good NIN outtakes with Reznor’s new wife singing over them.


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