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Customer Review

on 5 August 2005
As with most Nine Inch Nails albums, this album is easier to describe in the context of the other Nine Inch Nails releases. Thusly:
Pretty Hate Machine was a breakthrough at its time for making industrial music accessible while not watering down the impact. Even though the over reliance on synths and comparatively empty sound scope make some of songs sound dated, this Gary Numan-esque release showed a talent for melody.
However, Broken remains Nine Inch Nails at their hardest and fastest extreme as a howl of metal guitars and screams of fury pummel you into submission.
The Downward Spiral - still perfect in every way. Pure rock kicks for those that want them, submersive depths for those that drown in them, melodies for those that crave them and blasts of incomprehensible noise for those that seek them.
The Fragile - still a fan splitter. Trent seemed to be working himself into rut. It may possess excellent depth, but showcases Trent's lyrical cliché's and perhaps leans too far onto Nine Inch Nail's self-indulgent extreme. It does have some of their finest songs, but some weak bloated songs drag down the experience.
Where does this leave With Teeth? Quite simply, I think it represents an amalgamation of all the essentially different elements from each previous Nine Inch Nails release. It has the pop overtures of Pretty Hate Machine, the metal squeal of Broken, the drownable soundscapes of The Downward Spiral and the occasional lapse into the beautiful indulgence of The Fragile (which is fine if done sparingly).
With Teeth represents a stripping down to the core of the industrial heart and melodic soul of Nine Inch Nails. It sounds rawer and more immediate than anything he has done for over 10 years. The first song ("All The Love In The World) pulls you in as it adds layer upon layer of dance beats to blast out with a pop climax, and then suddenly you are dumped into the metallic anger of "You Know What You Are" with its simple driving riff being supported by the well crafted surrounding sound INSTEAD of being drowned by it (a flaw occasionally present on the Fragile)
The first 6 songs are essential a statement of, "you want a hit single? HERE'S your freaking hit singles!" The album drives along quickly in a fast paced attack on your cynicism, stripping it away until you are left exuberant that even if Trent's lyrics remain the same as before, musically he seems to be having FUN for the first time. The songs sound fresh, unclogged and a joy to listen to.
The half way point of the album, and title track "With Teeth" is where a more Fragile-but-minimalist approach kicks in and the darkness of Trent's layering really does make you want to crack open your copy of The Fragile again and go "ooooh! so THAT'S what he was trying to do!"
The album remains stripped down and raw industrial genius until the final trio of songs (not including the bonus tracks). These represent The Downward Spiral-esque section of the album. Heavily layered, quiet (well, half quiet in "The Line Begins To Blur"), despondent, and thoroughly submersive in a way that makes you wish all music could consume you this heavily. The last song "Right Where It Belongs" is another "Something I Can Never Have" / "Hurt", and is equally as spine tingling.
The addition of an even quieter acoustic version of "Right Where It Belongs" and another fantastically deep and submersive song in "Home" again entirely envelopes and calms your senses that were so heavily ignited for the first half of With Teeth, and therein lays the album's genius. With Teeth really does cover all the Nine Inch Nails bases. Essentially an album of two halves, the first half is so funky, joyous, raw and ROCK that you feel blown away in experiencing a previously unheard of immediacy to Nine Inch Nails, but then you are dragged back to the depths of soul consumption with the second half until you are left begging to gorge yourself on more music that somehow manage to overwhelm your senses so utterly.
In conclusion, With Teeth is still not as good as The Downward Spiral, but then NOTHING IS. While With Teeth cannot achieve the impossible of bettering The Downward Spiral, it does manage to come a very close second and that is the highest compliment I can think of.
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