The Major Releases
Among the many releases of Nine Inch Nails, there are four that are considered by many to be the most important, as they each mark a kind of turning point for the musical style of the group, the start of a new wave of releases, be it remix albums or singles, exploring that certain style.
Pretty Hate Machine
I'm just an effigy to be defaced
To be disgraced
Your need for me has been replaced
And if I can't have everything well then just give me a taste
- Nine Inch Nails, Sin
With its first major album, released in 1989, the beast that was Nine Inch Nails hit the ground running. At this early stage, extreme creativity and deep psychological disturbance are equally evident. Themes of rage, hate, betrayal and sexual frustration run rampant throughout all of the tracks. As for the general sound of the album, PHM was noticeably predominated by synthesizers, since it was after all released in the 80s, and the group had yet to create the synthetic sounding distorted guitar that is now its hallmark. The single Head Like a Hole, which received considerable radio play, contains intriguing musical elements including chanting children's voices and is somewhat of a social commentary condemning the mindless, ruthless pursuit of cash and material gratification.
smashed up my sanity, smashed up integrity,
smashed up what I believed in, smashed up what's left of me,
smashed up my everything, smashed up all that was true,
gonna smash myself to pieces, I don't know what else to do
- Nine Inch Nails, Gave Up
NIN's next major release, in 1992, is a violent collection of eight songs with distorted guitar and industrial noise crashing down with full force; nothing is held back. As Reznor points out in the album sleeve, the sound is influenced greatly by NIN's live band of 1991(introducing Richard Patrick who would later form the band Filter). The result, radically different from PHM in that most of the tracks are guitar driven and feature fast-paced aggressive percussion (probably inspired by live drummer Chris Vrenna who appears on two of the tracks), is plausibly one of the hardest hard-rock albums one may be privileged to subject one's ears to. Emotions range from the unnervingly quiet, throbbing repetition of the instrumental Help Me I Am In Hell to the aggressive, pounding anti-establishment ferocity of Happiness in Slavery.
The Downward Spiral
You let me violate you. You let me desecrate you.
You let me penetrate you. You let me complicate you.
Help me I broke apart my insides. Help me I've got no soul to sell.
Help me the only thing that works for me. Help me get away from myself.
- Nine Inch Nails, Closer
Often cited as being one of the most influential rock albums of the nineties, the third major NIN release put Reznor in the spotlight. He was suddenly given titles such as "the founding father of industrial rock" and "most influential rock artist of the year".
The Broken movie
Although it was never officially released, the Broken movie has found its way to hardcore fans, from which it has propagated to other fans, copy being made upon copy. Finally, someone decided to encode it and distribute it via the Internet. What follows is a brief description of the contents of the movie, as told by a h2g2 Researcher.
In the prologue of the Broken movie, a criminal is hanged. The scene is rather surreal not only in that hanging seems to be a strange choice as a means of execution, but even more so because the criminal's head is torn straight off the body. The movie itself revolves around this criminal and his crime, consisting of the picking of the victim, torture, the murder itself and ultimately the discovery of the body. All of the violence is extremely graphic and rather realistic, and the bad quality of the video tape, what with it being a copy of a copy of a copy, contributes to the suspension of disbelief, initially giving the viewer the impression that s/he may have stumbled upon an actual snuff movie.
The murder story is interwoven with Nine Inch Nails videos, one of which is at least as disturbing as the story in its depiction of what seems to be a ritual suicide. Some of them are official videos as shown on popular music channels, while others (such as Gave Up, the climax of the murder) were made exclusively for this movie. In short, it's definitely a must see for avid NIN fans with a taste for the morbid* and probably a rather enjoyable experience for anyone who enjoys horror movies and industrial rock.
Almost every official Nine Inch Nails release is referred to as a halo. The simple reason is that somewhere on the cover, be it album sleeve or VHS box, of every release there's the text "halo" followed by a number, apparently a numbering of the official Nine Inch Nails releases. Here are all of the releases at the time of writing, halos 1 through 16.
- Down In It (single)
- Pretty Hate Machine
- Head Like a Hole (remix album)
- Sin (single)
- Broken (ep)
- Fixed (remix ep)
- March of the Pigs (single)
- The Downward Spiral
- Closer to God (remix album)
- Further down the Spiral (remix album)
- The Perfect Drug (remixes)
- Closure (video)
- The Day the World Went Away (single)
- The Fragile
- We're in this Together (remix album)
- Things Falling Apart (remix album)
It might be interesting to note that some of these albums were released in radically different versions in the US, UK and Japan. Further Down the Spiral is a case in point; the US and UK versions share only about half of the tracks.