Reviewed by: Jane Roser
What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to? I’ve been to several, but only a few stand out as the cream of the crop and one of those was the Nine Inch Nails concert at Woodstock ’94. I remember standing on top of a metal box, watching Trent Reznor and his band, caked in mud, perform a ferocious show that was intoxicating from start to finish. That concert thrust NIN into a mainstream audience and they’ve enjoyed commercial success ever since. So I reacted with unabashed excitement to the surprise announcement that after a five year hiatus, the cryptic king was back, with a new line-up, including Adrian Belew of King Crimson and (surprise!) Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac (NIN changes band mates like Lady Gaga changes wigs, Trent Reznor is the only official member) and several funky choices of album covers.
It’s been 24 years since Pretty Hate Machine debuted and gave industrial rock a solid place in teens’ Walkmans. Hesitation Marks continues Reznor’s morose themes of turmoil and angst. The first single, “Came Back Haunted” released June 6th on Columbia Records, showcases Reznor’s uncanny songwriting ability- a modern day Lord Byron- “The throat is deep and the mouth is wide. Saw some things on the other side. Made me promise to never tell. But, you know me I can’t help myself.” This song is pure, classic Nine Inch Nails intensity. Hesitation Marks is an oxymoron- a quiet frenzy, if you will. And pure genius. The cover of September’s Spin magazine quotes Reznor as saying “there’s still no shortage of things that piss me off.” Thank God, because I can’t imagine a NIN album without a little bit of antagonism.
With the release of Hesitation Marks, NIN has begun touring again, already selling out shows in London and Hollywood and fulfilling the fantasy of every young Dr. Marten wearing goth kid out there, and maybe a few older ones, as well. I think if you were to ask me what words could perfectly define Hesitation Marks it would be this: the perfect drug.