NIN Review series part 4: The Fragile (Disc 1)

AngryByrd
Let me first explain why I'm separating my review of The Fragile into 2 parts. It's not because I think these are two separate albums, it's just really hard to talk about 23 songs cohesively on one web page. I will do my review of disc two and my summary of the whole album in the next part of the series. Until then, enjoy!

The Fragile was a very overdue follow-up to Nine Inch Nails' classic The Downward Spiral. In the years after 1994, Trent Reznor focused more on soundtracks before returning to the studio. He eventually released NIN's 4th studio album in 1999. This album definitely came packed with enough material to satisfy any listener, because it came with two discs of completely new material. After listening to the first disc, I can already say this is one of the band's best albums since Pretty Hate Machine.

I don't really know where to start with the music on this album. I will say that the main focus on this album is music rather than lyrics. The musical formula is very different on this album. It is still very much an industrial album but there are two instruments that this album really focuses on: rough industrial guitars, and pianos. These two combine with the immersive electronics to create an amazing atmosphere. Even though every song on this album is atmospheric, there is still plenty of variation, with Reznor using different piano licks and percussion instruments. Although it is really heavy, it's still probably the slowest album that the band has, so don't expect anything like Wish or Head Like A Hole. The heavy atmosphere results in a LOT of really good instrumentals and a lot of very untraditional songs. These are all very welcome additions to the album. Basically, it fixes the awkwardness of The Downward Spiral by having untraditional songs that actually work really well.

Lyrically, the album is very different from previous NIN releases. They're similar to The Downward Spiral, but without anything really sexual. Trent Reznor is an amazing lyricist, and this album is yet another display of his writing talent. Musically and lyrically I can safely say that any Pretty Hate Machine influence is nonexistent on this album. It's really a night and day difference. Normally this would be a bad thing, but I can't count anything off of this album for originality.

My favorite song from this disc of the album is We're In This Together. It's a little faster than most of the album, and it has a great chorus. I would like to give honorable mentions to The Day The World Went Away, The Wretched, and The Great Below. My least favorite song from this disc is No You Don't, because it's not very memorable and it's really filler-ish. As far as instrumentals, my favorite one so far is Just Like You Imagined.

Disc 1 alone of The Fragile shows off a lot of really good material from the band. It's a clear step up from TDS, because it has a much better atmosphere combined with a lot of great new ideas. It's really satisfying and it really gets me excited for the 2nd disc of the album. I give the first half of The Fragile a 9/10, and unless disc 2 is the worst CD ever recorded, this album as a whole is looking at a really high score.

Comments

This is a great album indeed. No wonder Spin magazine called Trent "the most vital artist in music." - visitor

I really love We're In This Together. It kinda sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. - visitor

It's in my top 3 favorite NIN songs! I love how it was used in the first Avengers trailer. I saw the new Batmam Arkham Knight Trailer which has The Wretched in it. I also heard Trent might be doing more stuff for the game! - AngryByrd

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