Stand Out Albums has been a showcase for my favorite albums across the vast performers that I love. Covering a little bit of everything from classic rock to country hits, much like Key Movies of My Life, it has been the albums that shaped me.
After covering the works of The Posies and Guster I figured it was time for a tonal shift into my rather eclectic taste in music so I though, what could be more of a change than a band I have loved since the early 90’s, Nine Inch Nails.
In 2009 Trent Reznor announced that NIN would take a break allowing himself and the band to focus on other things. Four years they surprised the world with a new album, Hesitation Marks.
Why This Album?
In many ways, this album feels like a spiritual sequel to the NIN classic Downward Spiral. Everything from musical callbacks to even the art designed by the original artist Russell Mills (who designed all of the Downward Spiral related art) gives Hesitation Marks a feel of returning to, or nodding at, an album that really solidified this band into the hearts and minds of fans everywhere. If you connect the two with the mindset that the Downward Spiral was about the loss of self, Hesitation Marks is almost a reissuance of self and a recognition that the end does not always mean death, but can also mean rebirth. Seeing as how Trent and the NIN team have been reborn time and again with each release, it only makes sense.
The album itself is a tremendously produced collection that moves from intense mantras of self doubt to reassuring melodies of support. Playing with sound in only the ways the band can, every track is both a unique entry in and of itself while also being almost a distorted echo of what has come before. Trent once again provides some of the most haunting vocals to date backed by layers of harmonic noise that somehow forms cohesive and intricate stories within each track. If anything, this album is a wonderful reminder that even though this band has evolved tremendously since their first release, the heart of NIN is still ever present, beating it’s staccato beat behind each and every note.
Interestingly, the term ‘hesitation marks’ (or ‘hesitation wounds) is, by definition, any cut or wound that is made after a decision to not commit suicide is made or any tentative cut before the final suicidal cut. Taking this into consideration, this album could be considered a rather meta album as, before it’s release, it was believed that Nine Inch Nails itself was coming to an end. With that in mind, this album is indeed the hesitation marks made after Trent and team decided that they would indeed continue on making music as a band and returning to touring once again.
Came Back Haunted. This track reminds me so much of Downward Spiral it almost feels like a call back or an homage to what has come before. It’s a tremendous track and Reznors vocals are as powerful as ever.
Satellite. This one is just creepy but cool as it reminds you that, nothing is private…and we are always being watched…by satellites of all kinds.
I would for you. I cant explain it, I just love this track.
Ok, Where do I get it?
Grab a copy of this one over at Amoeba. The deluxe edition is absolutely worth it and, frankly, if you are a NIN fan, you need this in your collection. Or, there’s always spotify.
Next week, Bad Witch…
Late to the Game 10/26/2021
Thanks for reading, If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and also check out some retro tv goodness with the ongoing series Retro TV Reviews here. You can also find a few of my other Music Reviews Here.
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