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  • Fred, of course

THE Trilogy of Despair and Anger

(continued from Back from BOS Vacation)

...I personally thank Trent Reznor for being a musical Alchemist.



Nine Inch Nails debuted with 1989's Pretty Hate Machine. PHM has some great songs on it, but it also has some real clunkers. If Head Like a Hole was one of the best songs of the 90's, Terrible Lie was one of the worst. After a successful start, Trent Reznor was already clashing with his label, one album into his career. Using pseudonyms, he secretly recorded PHM's follow up broken, top to bottom, one of the greatest EP's in the history of music. At the crescendo of the EP, Gave Up slams an exclamation point on broken and leaves the listener in question whether Nine Inch Nails would exist in the future. (Spoiler Alert: They would.)


Gave Up was an exhilarating roller coaster ride into the abyss. Once Gave Up was ingested and memorized, Nine Inch Nails released a re-mixed version of Gave Up on the EP fixed. The remixed version was equally good in quality as the original.



The Downward Spiral finds Nine Inch Nails at its apex. Ruiner runs the gamut of emotions from defeat, to, well, defeat, but the will to persevere. All three entries into the trilogy are meant to be heard at maximum volume.



The Fragile finds Nine Inch Nails in a more meditative place. Slightly more despair than anger, Reznor writes one of the greatest lines in Literature when he scowls:

"And God himself will reach his fucking arm through

Just to push you down

Just to hold you down"


The Fragile came out in 1999 and Things Falling Apart followed in 2000. One of the worst reviewed efforts by Nine Inch Nails, the Wretched Remix holds up as a more raw reflection of pain, reviewers be damned.

None of the Trilogy Songs were released as singles. Nine Inch Nails has had multiple Gold and Platinum albums, very few hit singles. (Only The Day the World Went Away was a Top 20 hit on the charts.) So let me remind you, the reader, that this is a deeply personal list. More for posterity than for peer review.

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