NIN Review series part 3: The Downward Spiral

AngryByrd Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to announce… IT IS FINALLY HERE!! After all this time, AngryByrd's review of The Downward Spiral is here! I've been getting constant requests to do this album, and now it's time to get the job done! I present to you… my review of NIN's classic third album.

Let me start of by saying one thing: this album is weird. Pretty good, yes, but weird! If you thought Broken was screwed up, then this album will make you question it's existence! Every song is very unique and there are a lot of good things about the album. Sadly though, a lot of the good things are also bad things.

The album does start out on kind of a bad note, because easily my least favorite song from the album is Mr. Self Destruct. This song basically sounds like Trent Reznor blew up his electronics, but still used them to make a song. This song is really flat and I just hated it. I wanted it to end the minute I first heard it, and I still can barely get through it.

Lyrically, this album is brutal. Every song has lyrics that I think everyone would classify as "pessimistic." For example, Heresy is about rejection of God, and Closer is about a self-hating man who can only relieve himself through sex. Also, I'm pretty sure Ruiner is about how much Trent Reznor hates his penis. The lyrics are disturbing, dark, and ultimately pretty negative, but still really well-written.

Musically, it's just like I said: this album is WEIRD!!! While it's mostly based on the classic stripper beats + industrial noise formula, it had a lot of other things thrown into it. Some songs are fast, some are slow, some have a little bit of acoustic guitar, some have a lot of acoustic guitar, some have piano, and the list goes on. I really like these additions, but only for a few songs. The best way to describe the music is that every song has things I like, and things that I'm kind of on the fence about. What I mean is most of the time the additions are good, but sometimes, I can't really judge them. I do really lean towards liking them, but they're just a little much sometimes. It's really nothing like anything the band has done so far. It's less danceable, creepier, and just more unique. But uniqueness isn't always good.

My favorite song from the album is definitely Closer. It's dark, danceable, and just really fun to listen to. Some of my other favorites from this album are Heresy, March of the Pigs, Ruiner, and The Becoming. These songs all make use of the album's odd sound really well. On the other end though, there are some flaws. Some of the songs are a little bit much sometimes, and the album really requires you to a in the right mood. It's also an hour long, so it can drag sometimes.

Overall, The Downward Spiral is a pretty good album with some pretty good ideas, but definitely has room for improvement. For what it is though, this album is executed really well, and there are a few things that bring the album down, but ultimately, the good wins out. I give Nine Inch Nails' The Downward Spiral a 7/10. Very interesting album, but needs to be fixed up a little bit.


A very interesting album indeed. I actually don't like listening to the album all the way through, but listening to each song individually seems fine in my ears. Reptile and I Do Not Want This are my personal favorite songs. Closer is always a classic. - NuMetalManiak

Same here. I'm not usually into giving up an hour of my time to hear a 7/10 album. - AngryByrd

Johnny Cash did a cover of Hurt. The final song on the album. I personally thought it was better than the original, even though I like the original a lot. - visitor

I love Hurt! It's one of the better songs on this album. - AngryByrd

I love it to. And I love Johnny Cash's cover of it. That just shows how important NIN truly are. - visitor

It is an amazing cover indeed. Hopefully it woke up so many ignorant people. - visitor

What do you mean by "hopefully it woke up so many ignorant people? " - visitor

Well Johnny Cash covered a Nine Inch Nails song. And Trent Reznor (frontman of Nine Inch Nails) used to worked with Marilyn Manson. More people often listen to Johnny Cash over Marilyn Manson for obvious reasons. And I figured the more people delve into Cash's cover of NIN's Hurt, the more people will know of Marilyn Manson and really think.

Manson's got some interesting ideas. He doesn't necessarily hate religion. He just doesn't like how people have used it so terribly over the years. - visitor

The ninth track, Big Man with a Gun, caused controversy because American social conservatives thought it was an attack on the United Sates Government. Trent stated that the song was a satire on gangster rap and was originally about madness. - visitor

Cool fact! - AngryByrd

Besides. Trent conceded The Downward Spiral could be "Harmful, through implying and subliminally suggesting things," whereas hardcore hip hop can be "cartoonish." - visitor

It kinda stupid how C. Delores Tucker called NIN a gangster rap act just because of the lyrics in Big Man with a Gun. NIN are NOT rappers! They don't rap. They're a pure rock band. - visitor

My girlfriend once called NIN dubstep. We broke up four days ago. - AngryByrd

Was it because she called NIN dubstep? - visitor

That was only the beginning. I'm not even going to talk about the time she called Slayer rock. - AngryByrd

I heard that March of the Pigs was used to torture prisoners. - visitor

That's the worst song to use for torture! That song should be used for rehabilitation! - AngryByrd

They should've used Mr. Self Destruct for torture. - visitor

Agreed! - AngryByrd

This album is a good introduction to astronomy. - visitor

The scariest part about the album is that Dylan Klebold (One of the shooters at Columbine High School) referenced lyrics from Nine Inch Nails multiple times in his journal. He heavily identified with the protagonist of the album as a symbol of his own depression. This is another controversy surrounding the album. - visitor

Yeah this album was pretty controversial. People criticized it, Marilyn Manson, and the film The Matrix for their alleged contribution to the environment that made tragedies like Columbine possible. - visitor

I think most people forget the saying "Marilyn Manson, NIN, and The Matrix don't hurt people, people hurt people." That's a saying, I guess. - AngryByrd

People also blamed German bands Rammstein and KMFDM, and the movie Natural Born Killers for the Columbine disaster. - visitor

I like Rammstein, but I've never listened to KMFDM. It seems like every industrial band ever was blamed for the shooting. I swear, if there's a new industrial band that comes out with an album next year, they're gonna get blamed for it. - AngryByrd

I guess it would make sense because industrial metal has become a controversial music genre because of its emphasis on transgressive themes. People accuse bands like Marilyn Manson and Rammstein of being criminals even though they don't condone bad behavior in their fans at all. - visitor

I just wish people stop blaming Marilyn Manson for real life crimes already. He's said in an interview with Larry King that he's been blamed for like 36 school shootings. 36 school shootings!

What is wrong with people? What I mean by that is that how can people be influenced by a song/movie/video game/etc to do horrible acts even though the person behind that song/movie/video game/etc does not at all condone violence and bad behavior in people?
Manson said in the interview that he doesn't at all endorse mass shootings, heck he even said that his work was never made to encourage people to hurt themselves or others. He thinks that using violence as a solution to solve a problem is bad. I just find it unbelievably stupid how people would listen to a dark/depressing sounding song without having the time to actually understand the meaning of the song. The media is not an excuse to be violent people. - visitor

The Downward Spiral is the darkest album I've ever heard. - visitor

I think Broken's a little darker. But I definitely don't mean this album is lighthearted! - AngryByrd

My favorite song on the album is A Warm Place because it just sounds so cool. It makes you feel like you're floating through outer space. - visitor

You should definitely listen to it when it's 800% slower. It's more mind soothing. - visitor

One of the best albums of all time and one of my favorite metal albums. - visitor

Klebold wrote this in his journal.

"Another form of the Downward Spiral... deeper & deeper it goes. to cuddle W. her, to be one W. her, to love; just laying there. I need a gun. This is a weird entry... I should feel happy, but s*** brought me down."
-Dylan Klebold from one of his journals two years before the shooting. - visitor

Damn! How disturbed do you have to be to write something like that? Even the stuff I write in my journal (which is 90% sexual fantasies) isn't as weird as that! At least he acknowledged it. - AngryByrd

Agree with what you said, but please keep your sexual fantasies to yourself. Don't worry we're cool. - visitor

Believe me, I'm definitely not going to go into detail about them. That would just be weird. - AngryByrd

Closer is a really weird song on the album, and it's music video is even weirder. It's definitely a song that I would NOT wanna listen to with my parents because of the lyrics. - visitor

I have to watch it/ listen to it late at night so my parents don't catch me! - AngryByrd

It's definitely NOT a song to play at a school dance! - visitor

Yes it is! I'd just like to try and hook up with somebody while the song is playing! Inappropriate lyrics? Who cares! I WANNA F*** YOU LIKE AN ANIMAL! - AngryByrd

I can agree with that because people are hypocrites anyway. What do I mean by that? Some people say that stuff like NIN is inappropriate while dirty music like Anaconda by Nicki Minaj gets played at my school dance (No seriously. They actually played that song at a school dance I went to one time. I'm not making this up). - visitor

Imagine if they started playing Cake and Sodomy by MM. - visitor

21 years later and this album is still fantastic. - visitor

Closer may have a weird video, but I'll have to say that Trent does look cool in those goggles. - visitor

He does! I also like the leather pants he wore! - AngryByrd

Hurt is my favorite song on the album. It kinda sounds like something out of a movie because it's so atmospheric. - visitor

In your opinion, which version of Hurt do you think is the saddest? The original by NIN or the cover version by Johnny Cash? - visitor

I think the original sounds sadder, but I think Johnny Cash's version has more of a dying feel to it. I really can't decide. Trent's version sounds like a suicide song, and Cash's version sounds like a dying man's final words. - AngryByrd

I love March of the Pigs. It's my favorite NIN song. It always gets you pumped up and ready for action. It's especially good for running. - visitor

Ruiner is about Trent being controlled by some kind of force I think. - visitor

I respect your opinion, but I'm gonna have to disagree. "Mr. Self-Destruct" is a fantastic song, in my opinion, and this is beyond a shadow of a doubt the best NIN album. It's pure lethargy and nihilism. "March of the Pigs" and "Reptile" are my personal favorites. Every song on the album is great, though. - UndeadUchiha

Fun fact: The opening sounds of Mr. Self Destruct are a sample from the film thanks 1138 in which a man is being beaten by a prison guard. - visitor

Thanks 1138 was also George Lucas's first movie. - visitor