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...
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
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.
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.