So the retirement didn’t last as long as you’d think(you’d think retirement lasts forever, at least in my neck of the woods it does). We’re the better for it if “Came Back Haunted” is any indication as to what NIN 2.0 is offering. This song seems to encapsulate all the best bits of every NIN era. From the frantic industrial dance vibe of Pretty Hate Machine, to the pained mid-career drug-addled self pity, to the healthy but still pissed off mid-2000s renaissance, clear up to Reznor’s excellent film work with Atticus Ross. It’s all there, but bigger. The song is huge-sounding. Not like symphony huge, or Rick Rubin “loudness war” huge. But like at any minute the song is going to explode. Trent Reznor’s passion for NIN has been reignited, and the flames are getting closer to the gasoline shed, so to speak.
For all intents and purposes, it seemed as if NIN had been boxed up in a mothball-filled crate somewhere in Reznor’s back closet(where he keeps all his leather pants and assorted absinthe mixers) and he’d moved on to more adult projects. First a band with his beautiful wife, then film scores for David Fincher(which were excellent, btw). There was talk of some sort of venture with Dr. Dre, or Ice Cube, or the estate of Easy E. Well, all of those were real things that pointed to the idea that NIN really was just a distant, f****d up dream we all had in the 90s, followed by the mid-2000s hallucination of another version of the band where this beefy dude that looked like the skinny dude that fronted NIN way back when was now fronting them. Reznor had devoured Henry Rollins and Glen Danzig and had replaced the absinthe with whey shakes and protein bars.
But has this all been just a rue? Something to distract us from what was going on behind the scene? Maybe. I’m not for certain, and I really don’t care. “Came Back Haunted” is a stellar track and if it’s any indication as to where NIN is headed I’m on board.
I’m pretty much a newbie in the world of NIN and Trent Reznor. The first album I bought of NIN was With Teeth. I was 17-18 years old when Pretty Hate Machine came out and I wasn’t a fan. The Downward Spiral came out right about the same time as Soundgarden’s Superunknown, so I pretty much ignored Trent’s masterpiece. It wasn’t until The Fragile in 1999 that I began to come around to what he was doing. I won a copy of it from a Fort Wayne radio station, so that was technically the first album I owned of NIN. I just didn’t buy it. But from With Teeth on I’ve been a loyal fan of Trent Reznor, and I feel despite what some mega fans from the very beginning would think, Reznor has done his strongest work from 2005 on. Since 2005, he’s put out With Teeth, Year Zero, Ghosts I-IV, The Slip, two sprawling and epic film scores for The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, an e.p. and a full-length debut with How To Destroy Angels…..AND he’s got arms like a longshoremen, grew a beard, got married, grew a couple kids, and has joined N.W.A with Dr. Beats and Ice Pack. I don’t care what you think about NIN, Trent Reznor just took the crown from James Brown as the hardest work person in the f*****g universe. All hail, Reznor! All hail, Reznor!
And if the new single and new album weren’t enough, NIN is hitting the road for a massive U.S. tour with a revamped live version of NIN which includes one of our favorite musicians here at jhubner73.com, Mr. Adrian Belew. AND, playing shows with Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. I think I just squealed out loud after typing that. Will this tour be coming near me? Not really. Cleveland, OH and Auburn Hills, MI are the closest it gets. Hmm, a visit to the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame would be sorta cool. Haven’t been there since 97′. Something to discuss with the Mrs.
Anyways, yeah, this is really happening. This isn’t a 90s flashback, or a flashback of a mid-2000s fever dream. This is real. Nine Inch Nails are back, and they’re taking over.
Update: Adrian Belew DID contribute to the album, but apparently is NOT part of the touring band. Bummer.