on 11 October 2005
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.
on 7 December 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
on 8 November 2003
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.
on 11 February 2001
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.
on 11 March 2007
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...
on 3 October 2004
This album is the best i have heard. Intense, passionate, terrbly depressing, in some cases the most calming thing i have ever heard. Trent Reznor leaves his meanings to the lyrics open, there are numerous debates to the meanings, they can be so in depth it gives a whole new meaning to the music, making it a truly awesome experience.
Many people may think this is a heavy album, it is, (with its calmer parts) but the heavy parts are heavy in a diffrent way to normal. The "heavyness" is created by many smaller parts ending up in a masses confusion of art.
In Closer i counted 13 different sounds at the same time, there maybe more, there are so many parts to the album you cant hear unless you really sit down and listen to it hard, alot.
The best album i have ever heard, as soon as i heard "Closer" i wanted the album, as soon as i heard "Hurt" i knew i would do anything to get it.
on 7 December 2004
For those who believe, no explanation is necessary.
I finally, after months of anticipation, got to listen to the SACD 5.1 surround sound version of Nine Inch Nails' The Downward Spiral last night, and it is possibly the best thing I have ever heard. The quality difference between the original and SACD is astounding and the dynamic mixing in 5.1 was truly incredible. When the live drums on Piggy kick in it sounds like the kit is in the room with you.
The album is particularly suited to the format as it has so many ambient sounds, textures and layers, and they haunt you from all around. Its definitely one of those records which every time you listen will notice something extra.
The only problem now is I wish I had the money to spend on upgrading my hi-fi system to listen to it. I'll have to make do with trecking over to my mates house for now. If your into NIN this really shows Trent Reznor's genious, and is how The Downward Spiral was always meant to be.
For those who do not, none will suffice.
on 14 August 2006
it's kind of hard to be objective about an album i've listened to so many times and STILL find love for. there's very few albums from the 1990's that have survived the test of time for me, so this re-issue is something like digging up an old leonard cohen record and rediscovering the joy of hearing the great mans lyrical ability. the 5.1 mix does something i thought impossible, i'm hearing things i missed before. when i go back to the original, there they are, just tucked away so that i never noticed them before. the "white noise" at the end of the first track had my head spinning around as the various layers seemed to race around the speakers, much better than the "wall of noise" effect of the original. but i digress, there will be very few people looking at buying this who don't already own the original, so i'll leave the main disc alone...
the bonus disc is a strange beast, but well worth having. there are tracks from "further down the spiral" and beyond, and singles from the album. we also get "dead souls" from the soundtrack of "the crow" - possibly not trent's most original track, but a complete corker anyway. what is of most interest though, are the demo tracks. they give a real insight into the 'hidden' side of the downward spiral, and of the method of complete digital recording which had never been used so exclusively before. absolutely everything was record on hard-disks and the tracks could then be edited together and changed until trent felt he'd got what he wanted. it's strange hearing familiar songs, with certain sounds and lyrics that made it to the final release, but surrounded by all sorts of stuff that didn't make it. a real eye-opener, and well worth the money.
on 9 July 2006
This is an immensely affecting album, disturbing yet compelling. I am drawn to it, rather like a drug which I know is bad for me, but which I still feel inclined to sample.
It conveys a deep depression in an articulate and candid way. It is also atmospheric, and it superbly suits it's title. The complete sound of it, the song titles and the lyrics all contribute to an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia which is stifling and gruelling - but powerful.
Trent Reznor's M.O. is fairly clear from the off: 'Mr. Self Destruct' features the horrifying sound effect of someone shooting at themself, groaning in pain, immediately unnerving the listener. 'Piggy' is tinged with despair and bleakness, and 'Heresy' confronts Christianity in a shocking, fearless manner.
'The Downward Spiral' of the title is evident from beginning to end, like a journey into the depths of hell, and all it's horrors.
'March Of The Pigs' contains more horrifying lyrics, and the listener by this point must surely find it undeniable that Trent Reznor has suffered a deep depression in his life to write such brutal lyrics.
'Closer' is a multi-faceted song which can be read on many different levels, the music effective and distinctive.
More grim and despair-tinged lyrics continue on 'The Ruiner', 'The Becoming' and 'I do not want this', again complimented by an eerily haunting sound, the same eerily haunting sound which is in evidence all the way through this album. It works it's way into your head and makes you feel ill at ease.
Make no mistakes, there is no hope on this album. It is completely bleak, nihilistic and despairing, but so completely and unrelentingly so that it becomes a powerful, consuming entity which smothers and silences the listener.
The lyrics of 'Big Man With A Gun' are almost too personal to comment on, but instrumental piece 'A Warm Place' again lavishes more eerie-sounding music on the listener.
'Eraser' and 'Reptile' are both highly suggestive, lyrically, and open to interpretation, but it is obvious that this album is Trent Reznor's attempt to get all of his most disturbing thoughts into one (extremely) dark place.
The last two tracks on this album, instrumental piece 'Downward Spiral' and 'Hurt', are a fitting end to a startling album, both beautiful and repelling. They are the final descent, working their way down into the pits, presumably a metaphor for Trent Reznor's state of mind. 'Downward Spiral' also contains the sounds of people screaming, apparently in agony, which never fails to literally make my stomach churn. I think we all secretly love to be horrified, and this album does the business every time. There is a certain part of the human mind which is both repelled and fascinated by horror, this album embraces that part of the brain entirely.
This album is the aural equivalent of all the darkest, most disturbing thoughts which a person has in the final moments just before waking up from a sleep. It is both threatening yet hazy, disturbing like something too severe to be realised and too horrible to contemplate. It is also shocking like that moment when you turn and unexpectedly see a face pressed up against a window, then you reel in fright. It is also the unhappiness which, deep in the subconcious mind, most humans are aware of, but spend their entire life trying to avoid.
Suffice to say, for conveying all of these things, it is a masterpiece. It is grim, and probably able to force even the most hardened nihilist into contemplation - but it is all the more powerful because of this.
It is also proof, as if it were needed, that depression too can have it's fruits, but suggestive that depression should no longer be a Taboo subject.
on 30 July 2001
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.