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September 1999

The Fragile

After two years in studio seclusion, Trent Reznor, the industrial art rocker behind Nine Inch Nails, has come up with a sprawling double disc that's filled with frenzy, fever, anguish, rage and paranoia all wrapped into a devastatingly potent sonic attack.

Awash in distorted keyboards, nearly unrecognizable guitars and crushing beats, the album provides a cacophonous counterpoint to the teen pop, rap, and hip-hop that have been dominating charts at the century's end.

The song structures here are dense, riding on massive riffs, but Reznor's gift is his ability to break through those walls with killer hooks, making tracks like Star......., Inc., The Day The World Went Away, and the multi-structured We're In This Together, weirdly and wildly accessible.

Of special note is a wondrous series of songs midway through the first CD, starting with the guitar maze of the title cut and continuing through the classical/industrial explosion on the instrumental Just Like You Imagined, the sonar propulsion of Even Deeper, and the chaotic Pilgrimage, which sounds like the score for a biblical epic in Y2K.

Quite simply, there is no other band making music as unpredictable and as darkly and deeply provocative as Nine Inch Nails is.

Kevin O'Hare

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Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails
This article is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously located at SUS.