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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The way it should be listened to
The Downward Spiral has been one of my favourite albums for many years and 11 years on, it still sounds good. However this SACD version almost defies description, taking what is already a masterpiece to a higher level.
The anger, disillusionment and despair present in TDS is communicated with such force through this beatifully rendered and realised version of the...
Published on 11 Oct 2005 by R. Whitworth

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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Most awful and overrated album of all time. Except for The Wall by Pink Floyd, perhaps.
I am actually angry that I have spent money on this album that I won't ever get back. I even expended some of my life listening to it.
It is one of the worst albums I have ever sat through, and certainly one of the most overrated.
Whatever he was trying to do, it didn't work - unless, that is, Trent Reznor aimed to write an hour of pointlessly pompous prose...
Published 1 month ago by Calum


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The way it should be listened to, 11 Oct 2005
By 
R. Whitworth (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The Downward Spiral has been one of my favourite albums for many years and 11 years on, it still sounds good. However this SACD version almost defies description, taking what is already a masterpiece to a higher level.
The anger, disillusionment and despair present in TDS is communicated with such force through this beatifully rendered and realised version of the album that, for the want of sounding twee, its more of an experience than an album of songs.
I can't recvomend this enough, if you like NIN then this is a must buy. Even if you only want to check out what the SACD format is capable of, this is an excellent demonstration (though I would imagine it makes pretty difficult listening if you're offended easily or don't like your music loud and distorted). Listening to the original stereo CD again just feels flat and unsatisfying compared to the experience that this SACD delivers.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing Can Stop Me Now..., 8 Nov 2003
This review is from: The Downward Spiral (Audio CD)
This album is considered Nine Inch Nails' most controversial and disturbing work. They completely change their image that was first seen on "Pretty Hate Machine" to something much more darker and emotional. The result is a very successful and complex masterpiece that takes you to places you have never been in the music world. With each track you step in further and further into Reznor's mind. "The Downward Spiral" is an outstanding album and will always remain a classic.
The songs are much more complex and have more structure to them than the ones that appear on "Pretty Hate Machine" and "Broken." There are heavy songs, and there are soft songs. There are disturbing songs, and there are beautiful songs. You get to experience something different with each song.
The great thing about this album is, just like with any other NIN album, no two songs are the same. Each one has its own identity and feeling to it. Another plus is that there is not a single bad song on the entire album. My favourites are "mr. self destruct," "march of the pigs," "closer," "the becoming," "a warm place," "eraser," "I do not want this," "ruiner," and "hurt."
"The Downward Spiral" is an amazing album. Reznor knows how to make great music and continues to impress us even to this day. Be warned, however; this album isn't for everyone. It is indeed a very controversial and even sometimes offensive album. But if you love Nine Inch Nails, then this is a must-have. It is a CD I continue to listen to over and over again. It never ceases to amaze me. A classic to the very end.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "And even when I'm right with you, I am so far away...", 7 Dec 2004
I still can't believe that it was ten years ago that this epic of an industrial masterpiece came out. To this day, it remains a very popular album that people can never get enough of. It's classic Nine Inch Nails that can never be duplicated, no matter how hard one tries. It's angry, depressing, violent, disturbing and beautiful. So, how do you celebrate the 10 year anniversary of this fine album? You re-release it... and use all of your powers to make it sound better than ever before.
That was accomplished with "The Downward Spiral: The Deluxe Edition." All of the songs are here, and they have each been remastered so you can listen to these classic songs in a whole new way. It was a little hard to notice at first, since I was listening to it through my headphones, but once I blasted this thing through my speakers, I could immediately hear--no,FEEL--the change and improvement. You hear little subtle things that you could never pick up on in the original, as there's always a lot going on with each and every one of these songs. It was like listening to the album for the very first time. I can't even begin to express how impressed I am with it in words.
To take full advantage of this album, it is true that you should have an SACD CD player and surround sound so you can hear it in 5.1, and it is AMAZING. You really feel like each song is a living and breathing thing waiting to suck you up without warning. However, if you don't have an SACD CD player, do not fret. This thing still sounds INCREDIBLE without it. If you have a great sound system and some high quality speakers, you will definitely hear the difference. Heck, you can even pop this thing into your discman, then put in the older version, and you will be able to note the difference as well.
Not only is this remastered to its highest quality, but you also get a bonus CD that offers 13 tracks of rare remixes, demos and songs that only appeared in soundtracks, such as "dead souls" (from "The Crow") and "burn" ("Natural Born Killers). The remixes are ones that you can find on various single releases, but it's nice to have them all on one CD. Not only that, but you get the demos of "ruiner," "liar (reptile demo)" and "heresy."
If you're a NIN fanatic like me, then you MUST pick this up immediately! You won't regret it. Still hang onto the original release (since you're a NIN fan!), but trust me, you will be listening to this Deluxe Version instead. Nine Inch Nails' "The Downward Spiral: The Deluxe Version" does NOT disappoint. Its new sound is simply unbelievable. What a way to celebrate ten great years. A re-release to remember. -Michael Crane
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 11 Mar 2007
By 
N. Wevers (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I had to add my thoughts after the frankly baffling 1 star review below me.

Nine Inch Nails are not for the faint of heart, the depth and intensity of Trent Reznor's lyrics are not easy to listen to, they're the oral equivalent of watching a car crash. It takes a certain amount of emotional investment. If you don't want that in your music then you will probably agree with the reviewer before me.

But make the effort and you will find that far from being tuneless there is an incredible amount of layering in the arrangements. Having owned the album since it was first released in the 90's it is still one of my favourites, it never gets boring, and even now I still discover little things I hadn't noticed before. Personal highlights are 'Closer', 'Heresy' and 'Hurt' (the latter famously and heartbreakingly covered by Johnny Cash)

Yes, by all means listen to the album before you buy it, but I guarantee you you will not be disappointed! And if a legend like Johnny Cash can recognise the genius that is Trent Reznor that's good enough for me...
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Despite the many imitations..., 24 May 2006
This album is a true piece of art. Seriously, they're gonna be playing this in art galleries in a hundred years time. An original and captivating work that surprises and delights as much as it rocks and rages. Now expanded as a two-disc edition, there is even more to savour. Wonderful remixes that aren't just filler, demos and b-sides that are better than most bands album tracks; "The Downward Spiral" stands head and shoulders above it's many, many imitators. And now it stands just a little bit taller
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential, 30 July 2001
By 
izzygran (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Downward Spiral (Audio CD)
When I bought The Downward Spiral I didn't know much about NIN at all. I'd heard The Perfect Drug on the Lost Highway soundtrack (go buy now, it's fantastic) and on a long car trip whilst on holiday in the States, in a toss up between Siamese Dream and TDS in the record store (both very well reviewed and I wanted to listen to something new and different), Trent mysteriously won me over. I listened to that CD for three weeks continuously, barely believing that I could have lived without it for so long. In short, The Downward Spiral is dark, perverse, intelligent, sensitive, catchy, inaccessible, sexy and wildly inventive and diverse within its 14 blissful tracks. Reznor opens up well with Mr Self Destruct, a blistering chorus of white noise and screamed lyrics and the tone is in turn both manic and reflective right until the closing suicide note of Hurt, one of the most beautiful and haunting songs Trent or anyone has ever written. Much has been made of Closer, the catchiest track on the list, and whilst a fantastic song it has somewhat overshadowed the more subtle power of songs like Heresy (check the Nietzsche reference), Reptile, Piggy (seriously disturbing in context), March of the Pigs and The Becoming. Anyone wary of Nine Inch Nails for whatever reason should leave any preconceptions at the door and take the plunge because you won't regret it.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stirring contradiction. Beauty and Violence married as one, 11 Feb 2001
By 
C. Cottingham - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Downward Spiral (Audio CD)
Trent Reznor just not just write 'songs'. He writes experiences. Just as the auteur theory of film study teaches us that the image can be layered with meanings and statements quite independent of the narrative, so Nine Inch Nail's music constantly evokes a sense of structure, of attempting to convey a message through not just the lyrics, but through the music itself.

Here we have an album that tracks the human mind through a myriad of conflicting and contrasting moods and states. Opener 'Mr Self Destruct' begins with the sound of a man being beaten, setting an apt precedent for the album that follows. The resulting track at first bludgeons, but then throws off anyone who dares to believe they can predict its course, with an intricate break-down into a near white-noise. Follower 'Piggy' doesn't even try to follow, introducing an overwhelming atmosphere of melancholy that all but ecclipses the previous statement of malicious intent.

And so the album continues, confusing at every turn. Even when Reznor chooses to adhere to the Verse/Chorus/Verse format, it still seems like an attempt to subvert. 'Closer' is a really sexy song, riding along on a synth so gorgeous that it should dismay any Slipknot fans simply out for a record to 'mosh' to. Make no mistake, like Tool, Nine Inch Nails are an intelligent force of music, with so much more to offer than some bruises and a collection of other people's sweat in the moshpit.

However abrasive the record may seem, a sense of balance is still maintained throughout. The nihilism of 'Heresy' is stopped short by 'A Warm Place', an instrumental so delicate as to lull you dangerously into calm. And then the drum from 'Eraser' shatters your every being. This is not just a 'heavy' record. It is loud, it is aggressive, but it is also beautiful, well crafted, and at times achingly sad. It isn't any one thing, as to call it anything would be to pigeonhole and limit its brilliance. Trent Reznor himself said that the making and the subsequent touring of this record was the lowest point in his life. You can actually hear that on this release. You can hear all of the extremities of emotion. There is tortured love, rejection, the baseness of sexuality, fear, loathing, melancholy, anger, and finally, a dismissal of everything that our society values as important. Nihilism. The rejection of everthing.

Behind the pretension and the manufacturing and the commercialism and the degradation of everything around us, of a society losing any sense of moral coding, of ideology that is becoming twisted and tainted as Political Correctness attempts to satisfy everyone at all times, behind all of that, we are human. Behind the grinding mechanics and the screeching electronics, even behind the delicate piano that accompanies 'The Downward Spiral's' most vulnerable moments, this record too, is human. Everything on it 'feels' real, with emotions that raise the hairs on the back of your neck. It is a work of cathartism, where the music and the structure serves to emphasise the feelings at the records heart.

But yeah, it is darned good to mosh to as well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Many Classics From The '90s Rock Scene, 7 Dec 2003
This review is from: The Downward Spiral (Audio CD)
"Pretty Hate Machine" was soft, Gary Numan-esque synthesiser music, the "Broken" ep was deathrock with heavy, grinding guitars and screamed, distorted vocals. "The Downward Spiral" is the middle ground between these two releases.
On "The Downward Spiral", Reznor roped in a huge eclectic range of influences from Ministry to David Bowie. Musical change is the key to this album, Reznor uses Ministry style abrasive guitar noise, Gary Numan synths and even Orb style ambience to colour the textures of the songs. The album is far from simple but underneath it all it impingies on a pop sensibility. The poppy melodies carry across the dark and radio-unfriendly lyrics while always staying with the music.
The fact that Reznor could pull all of this off on his lonesome is truly amazing. The fact that the album was recorded in the house were Sharon Tate was murdered by The Manson Family really inflected the album, Reznor has stated in interviews that he felt really uncomfortable during the recording sessions.
"The Downward Spiral" is like a latter day "Darkside Of The Moon". Both albums are classics, both achieved commercial success and both were very big, epic constructs that explore the darker side of life. "Spiral" is proof that musical ambition didnt die along with prog-rock.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trent's best?? Maybe...., 3 Jun 2008
By 
Pobwall "MFSIR!!" (Jason Parkes' basement, Plymouth, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Downward Spiral (Audio CD)
I first got the album on cassette not long after it came out in 1994 at the age of 14, and I am not ashamed to say I was pushed towards it by seeing NIN tracks on beavis & butthead!!

At the time, I think I was listening to Jesus Jones, Blur, some metal, Megadeth, Anthrax etc. Putting it on in mother's car on the way back from town I think it nearly made her crash it. Mr Self Destruct was a nasty piece of work to say the least, but now it just seems the norm. Then we had Piggy, not a bad little slow one. By the time we got to Heresy, I think it got turned off to be "listened to at home".

Anyway, that's enough sentimental rubbish, this album has stood the test of time, definitely. Don't get me wrong, I still dig the hard Depeche style sound of Pretty Hate Machine, and I will never get bored of Fragile, but Downward Spiral is where NIN set the mark for everything that followed, and probably why Trent has never silenced the critics since.

The arrangement, layering, samples and effects on this album make it that little bit cleverer, deeper and more empathetic than his more recent efforts.

It took me a couple of years of the odd listen to get what was going on, that may have been my own naivety or just getting into more electronic luminaries such as Orbital, Erasure and the more creative aspects of Pop Will Eat Itself in the meantime.

In the last couple of years, I probably haven't given the record as many listens as I may have done say 5 years ago. That may be due to me discovering Foetus - Nail, all the shoegazer bands (Ride, Swervedriver etc), Luke Haines, Julian Cope and Cathal Coughlan, my 8 year love for Nitzer Ebb and co, and my general disappointment at With Teeth and other releases.

But what I will say is, The Downward Spiral is a fantastic piece of art, and if you are just a little bit curious, get hold of a copy and just see what you think.

Oh, for people who say, "yeah yeah, this is really depressing music", it isn't. It's just realistic, a little understanding always helps, don't you think??
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars much imitated, never equalled, 17 Dec 2007
By 
This review is from: The Downward Spiral (Audio CD)
Let's get one thing out of the way - this is not a rock album, or a metal album, or anything like that. It falls neatly into that rather overcooked category "electronic dance music" in almost all respects, and certainly isn't the only such album to make prominent use of the old six string (as do everybody from Daft Punk to Redanka to Skazi).

I say this, because to judge this as a rock album is to completely miss the point of NIN main-man Trent Reznor's abilities - there are only a very few producers (in the EDM sense) as imaginative and immersed in the finest details as Reznor, none of which work in the various genres termed "industrial". The lyrical obsessions with control and domination are only half the picture. Reznor seeps into every second of this record; samples and found sounds aren't just thrown in, but meticulously weaved into the mix. He is matched in this perhaps only by the more cerebral minimal techno producers, such as Richie Hawtin. That he was doing this in 1994 (and before), in the era before dual-core Logic 8/Cubase 4-powered, soft-synth loaded mega-computers, in nothing short of remarkable - this record sounds completely perfect, timeless, permanently modern and impeccably loud.

Forget the massive hits. "March Of The Pigs" rages nicely, of course, and "Closer" is a grinding slo-mo club-banger of the first order (yet was thrown into the "modern rock" playlists!). But it's all about the lumbering, crescendoing waltz of "Eraser", indisputable album highlight - building from a couple of reedy, wheezy FX, through a cavernous beat and layers of detuned synths, dropping into a vocal breakdown, and only then launching one of the clipped-to-death snarling guitar riffs that make up Reznor's claim to alterna-rock royalty. (I barely need to tell people to ignore the lyrics, which are portentiously angsty and more-or-less wafer thin. But then, dance music fans are used to ignoring dreadful lyrics.)

Also pay close attention to "Hurt". It may have escaped many people's attention, given the now-popular myth (in the sense of its social role, rather than the sense of a lie or untruth) building around the Johnny Cash cover. If you want an object lesson in why Trent Reznor is great, forget about the Man in Black and compare him with his 'rival' producer, Rick Rubin. While the latter piles on the string section, records everything with the bright and clean sound beloved of American Idol finalists and generally does all he can to make Cash sound completely out of place, Reznor tweaks everything and sits it in a gentle bed of resonating noise. The big moment in the second chorus is provided by a semi-monotonous guitar thump. Reznor doen't need the string section to get a bit of drama.

A classic of the producer's art, and a classic electronic album anyway.
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