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Trent Reznor Albums From Worst To Best Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile (1999) – Stereogum

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Trent Reznor Albums From Worst To Best

Sep 16th '13 by Joseph Schafer @ 1:21pm2013/09/16 111 Comments Tweet
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07. Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile (1999) After a lengthy five-year period alternating between abuse and sobriety, deaths in the family, and a nasty case of writer's block, Reznor followed his most successful album, The Downward Spiral, with The Fragile, the most melodramatic and excessive piece of his career. In between records, Reznor contributed to the Natural Born Killers and Lost Highway soundtracks, and maybe as a result, The Fragile has a cinematic bent to it: Pieces from it have been culled by Hollywood to promote films such as Terminator: Salvation ("The Day The World Went Away"), Final Destination ("Into The Void") and 300 (album highlight "Just Like You Imagined"). More eclectic and progressive than any other Reznor album, The Fragile rockets from soft to loud, slow to fast, from funk to doom metal, sometimes combining all in one with jaw-dropping results, like "The Big Come Down." The album's finest moments are its instrumental passages and more epic, progressive suites such as "The Frail"/"The Wretched" and especially "La Mer"/"The Great Below," which segues from relaxing jazz into a firsthand account of a descent into hell. That song remains among Reznor's finest.

That said, The Fragile has not aged well. Like most double-albums, it overstays its welcome. Worse, it ping-pongs from the melancholic apocalyptic imagery of its best tracks to some downright immature, would-be-singles. "Where Is Everybody?" and "No, You Don't" might have been better served as fan-favorite B-sides like "Burn" off The Downward Spiral. And single "Starfuckers, Inc." should have been left unmade entirely. The Fragile is beautiful, but deeply flawed — Reznor bested it with simplicity years later.

The first time I heard Nine Inch Nails, I was barely fourteen, hanging, unsupervised, with my friend at the time and his older brother — a “bad kid” judging by his pierced ear and Grateful Dead T-shirt. We sat on his dingy floor while he sparked a joint and asked us if we wanted to hear some quote-unquote real music, something to make us stop listening to The Eminem Show on repeat. He played what I later found out was the Broken EP. When I asked him what this music was he said, “What they play in the strip clubs in hell.” There began a lifelong interest in Trent Reznor, mastermind and sole core member of Nine Inch Nails.

Of course there is more to Reznor’s sound than sleaze, hard beats, and roaring guitar. The man has experimented with every genre of popular music from electronica to metal to jazz, but at his core, Reznor’s strengths have always been hooks and lush production, things he inherited from his favorite bands as a teenager: KISS and David Bowie.

Reznor’s also contracted some of those bands’ weaknesses. For an acclaimed singer-songwriter (which he is, underneath the electronics and black cutoffs), Reznor has never been the greatest lyricist or singer. He’s grown into the nasal croon that has defined his style, but it wouldn’t work in any other band. His most-celebrated topics — drugs, kinky sex, paranoia, depression, sticking it to the man — make him the perfect rock star for a 14-year-old boy in a strange, dirty room filling with funny-smelling smoke, but not exactly the sort of person one expects to make profound statements about life, politics, and the nature of human existence (even though he has done so when the stars align).

Regardless of his flaws, with Grammys and an Oscar under his belt, recent collaborations with Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, and a discography of multi-platinum albums, Trent Reznor has graduated from reclusive addict-genius to the ranks of his childhood idols: bona fide pop music luminary. No other “extreme” musician besides Ozzy Osbourne has wormed his way so far into mainstream pop — but unlike Ozzy, Trent Reznor is nobody’s clown. He’s become one of the most forward-thinking musicians and producers when it comes to using technology. Rockist luddites say that modern production techniques sap the soul out of music and make it lifeless, but even they embrace Trent Reznor. The core of his technique, the thing he does most brilliantly, is coax organic sounds out of computers.

Since the release of his latest album, Hesitation Marks, the man who once gave the cold shoulder to a Rolling Stone reporter is giving 45-minute lectures on his process and offering insider looks at his always spectacular live shows. Before his 2009 hiatus, Reznor was posting live clip after live clip from his would-be farewell tour with reckless abandon. Reznor hasn’t just transformed from scrawny nobody into sex symbol, from junkie into clean liver, and from rocker into composer — he’s gone from being an introvert to an extrovert, inviting everyone interested to examine him and his work. It’s the perfect time to bring his entire discography, with all of its successes, failures, and inconsistencies, into context. These are Trent Reznor’s albums — released under his own name, or with longtime co-pilot, Atticus Ross, with recent project How To Destroy Angels, and of course with Nine Inch Nails — from worst to best. Reznor’s discography is actually a bit larger than the one presented here, but I chose to focus on work where he took the steering wheel himself — the Lost Highway and Natural Born Killers soundtracks were both mostly composition albums, and so were not included, even if each one boasts a worthy fan-favorite Nine Inch Nails song (“The Perfect Drug” and “Burn” respectively). Also Reznor’s soundtrack to the original Quake videogame was excluded, firstly because it is no longer commercially available, and secondly because, come on, it’s the soundtrack to Quake. All three would hover near the bottom of the list.

Without further ado … start the Countdown here.

Tags: How To Destroy Angels, Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor

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  1. Kevin Broydrick  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +12

    Agree with a majority of the list, but Ghosts got jobbed, that’s a really outstanding work of art.

    Reply
    • raptor jesus  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +1

      I liked that he incorporated random Ghost tracks into his Lights in the Sky tour.

      “Ghosts 14″ was a huge highlight live.

      Reply
    • Kevin Broydrick  |   Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 0

      Also, does anybody know where to find a copy/clip of “Broken Movie” it was the music video/film that Reznor made around the time of Broken’s release and he was once quoted as saying it makes the “Happiness in Slavery” video “look like a Disney movie.” Needless to say I’m intrigued/pre-revulsed.

      Reply
      • ryan_simpson  |   Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 0

        Just about any torrent site should have a good digital copy. S.W.I. Trent Reznor leaked an unreleased DVD rip of it about 5 years ago.

        Reply
      • raptor jesus  |   Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 0

        I watched it earlier this year on a Vimeo link (that has since been taken down) and your feelings of pre-revulsion are not out of place.

        As I recall… it starts with a boy getting abducted and taken into a basement where he is hung up and tortured. Clips on the nipples, that sort of stuff. He is forced to watch a television that plays NIN music videos. From there the video bounces between the Broken music videos (including that Pinion video of the toilet flushing into a bonded man’s mouth).

        It also includes the “Happiness in Slavery” video, which is still one of the more cringe-worthy moments of the 20ish minute video. So it is technically worse than that video since it includes it, and much, much more. But the scenes in the basement are really hard to watch cuz this kid looks about 14 or 15 and the guy torturing him looks very evil.

        Reply
  2. stagger_lee  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +12

    dingy = grimy/gloomy
    dinghy = small boat

    Reply
  3. Pat Jordan  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +5

    Pleasantly surprised to see Year Zero so high.

    Reply
  4. Ryon Dickerson  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +7

    The Slip is one of my very favorite NIN albums. It’s short, cohesive and it successfully bounces around a few different styles he was experimenting with at the time. I personally think that it was the best accomplishment of his comeback.

    Reply
  5. John Mordecai  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +2

    I don’t understand how With Teeth is a “scaled-back album full of singles and ballads,” and “as close to easy-listening as Reznor gets.” What?? That album is mostly LOUD and lug-headed. “All the Love in the World” is notable for the disco breakdown at the end, which wasn’t even mentioned, and how do you not even point out how great “Beside You In Time” is… probably the best song on there.

    The Fragile may be overly long, yes, but “Year Zero” was wayy too long as well.

    Reply
  6. Rob Casper  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +3

    unpleasantly surprised to see the fragile so low.

    while i’d agree it’s not their greatest album of all time, it should definitely rank somewhere in the top 3.

    Reply
    • desolationrow  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 -1

      And which of the three unimpeachable classics currently in the top three would you leave out?

      Reply
      • Rob Casper  |   Posted on Sep 18th, 2013 +3

        for the sake of giving lip service your snide question, i would leave out either broken or pretty hate machine: while phm warrants position in the top 5, calling broken unimpeachable is a good laugh. putting it anywhere near the downward spiral just looks wrong.

        i think lumping in EPs and LPs in these lists is a huge mistake anyway: if we’re going to start tossing in any old official release, omitting the remix album further down the spiral is a huge mistake. it unquestionably ranks among the best things trent has ever done.

        Reply
    • Butchy Butch  |   Posted on Oct 20th, 2014 0

      Don’t know of top 3, but it’s way way better than With teeth and Year zero together. Fragile was too long an a bit pretentious but there is fiew great songs there. WT and Y0 ha none.

      Reply
  7. Phil Herring  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +1

    It should be noted that the “official” music video was actually (at first) not official and was created by Meathead (who hosted the hilarious “Meathead Perspective” NIN fansite).

    Reply
    • Joseph Schafer  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 0

      Wow! I never knew that. Somehow that makes it so much cooler to me.

      Reply
      • Luke Worle  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +3

        Hi Joseph. Well written stuff. Don’t agree with all your choices, but hey, you didn’t expect everyone to agree. It’s funny you mentioned The Downward Spiral as a novel. This was something from NIN Wiki that was the dissertation from fans who sort of expounded on the themes of that record and read it almost like a Shakespearean tragedy. It’s cool and worth a look:
        [web.archive.org]

        Reply
        • raptor jesus  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +2

          Good read so far. Thanks for posting.

          Reply
        • stacy z  |   Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 +2

          Double thanks for posting that interpretation piece Luke, very interesting stuff. Totally can’t wait to dive in and read it on my lunch break!

          As far as the ranking of albums goes, I agree and disagree with some of it, which is par the normal course with lists like these. In general, I’m usually in the minority of NIN fans in the fact that I would place both Broken and Pretty Hate Machine above The Downward Spiral. I dunno what it is or why (the more industrial-metal vibe, perhaps?) – and I love TDS to death, don’t get me wrong – but I’d have to choose the other two over it if I was being completely honest with myself.

          All in all, this list completely got me even more amped to see NIN in 2 weeks tho, which I didn’t even think was possible, so thanks for that!

          Reply
          • Luke Worle  |   Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 +1

            No problem guys. I always though that was a really interesting and in depth piece on a landmark album. And we all have our favorites. I’m a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan and sometimes I love the hushed folk electronica of “Adore” over the epic roar of “Siamese Dream”. It’s good that artists paint from different palettes and have balance. That’s what makes Trent so versatile and cool I think :)

            Reply
    • Marlina Guzman  |   Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 0

      I love Meathead. He made some of the most funniest NIN stuff available that I gladly spent hours on.

      Reply
  8. Renaton  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +7

    NIN was my favorite rock band growing, and I can’t help but feel it was my gateway for more atmospheric, experimental music, because it’s accessible but take a lot of cues from some of the most daring music out there. Listen to his music taught me to listen immersive music, and pay attention to production. I find Trent an incredible musician, and I think few of his generation convey mood and sense of despair with music texture like he does. I’d argue he can be a bit uneven, but at his best, he can be one of the most inspired and interesting artists in recent music.

    My rankings:

    1. The Downward Spiral
    2. The Fragile
    3. Pretty Hate Machine
    4. Broken EP
    5. Hesitation Marks
    6. With Teeth
    7. The Social Network score
    8. Year Zero
    9. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo score
    10. all three How to Destroy Angels EPs
    11. Ghosts I-IV
    12. The Slip

    Reply
  9. raptor jesus  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +4

    I have mixed emotions here. At first when I saw the title, I liked the idea of listing it as “Trent Reznor” instead of just NIN… but now I’m wishing it was just a NIN album list.

    CLEARLY I’m missing out on How to destroy angels_ because it’s apparently better than the two newest NIN albums that I enjoy quite a lot. I love it when The Slip drops into chilled ambiance: “Corona Radiata” into “The Four of us are Dying” is one of my favorite NIN album moments. “Hesitation Marks” is still sinking in but I’m enjoying it more every day. Does Trent sing on HTDA? I was under the impression he didn’t…

    Although it gets a lot of love around here, “With Teeth” has always been my least favorite NIN album. I don’t dislike it, far from it. “The Line Begins To Blur” into “Beside You In Time” into “Right Where It Belongs” is one of my favorite NIN endings to an album. The way they all sequence into each other, a decision replicated on “Hesitation Marks” as well.

    Then there’s “The Fragile”. I personally think it’s one of NIN best albums (I have a special place in my heart for double albums). I could understand why when it was released it wasn’t met with critical acclaim, but as we’ve watched Trent drift into more ambient (read: soundtracks) direction, it seems that “The Fragile” should’ve been called “An Omen” as, in hindsight, it clearly foreshadowed the type of music he’s been making in the years since its release.

    Can’t argue with the Top 3 though. At the end of it all… The Downward Spiral is still the masterpiece. The reissue that came with a bonus disc of b-sides from that era are just as classic. Never forget that this man wrote “Burn”.

    Reply
  10. Kaan Peter Sayinli  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +11

    Hesitation Marks deserves better

    Reply
  11. Adam Goetz  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +3

    My favorite is Social Network, with Ghosts second, then The Slip.

    Reply
    • Adam Goetz  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +2

      Which is probably weird. I think the Ghosts/Slip picks might be because of how much the Lights In The Sky tour blew my mind. Still great albums though, Ghosts is *vastly* underrated.

      Reply
  12. Nicholas Hart  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +3

    bad list. the fragile should be higher as should ghosts

    Reply
  13. jake  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +4

    It may not have been his work per se, but Saul Williams’ The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust is still my favorite Reznor work.

    Reply
  14. Richard Kuta  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +1

    You were 14 when The Eminem Show was released? WTF?

    Reply
  15. Brian Von Uff  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +2

    The Fragile is Number 2…so good

    Reply
  16. the judge  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +2

    I agree that The Fragile is too long and has a lot of filler, but its highs are much higher than anything from With Teeth. If they were switched and Ghosts were bumped a bit, this was a good list.

    Well written and insightful list. Thanks.

    Reply
  17. Terrence Rusch  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +3

    I’ve basically been refreshing this site ever since Hesitation Marks dropped cuz I knew it was time for a TR entry in this series. With that said…seriously that top 3 could have easily been picked by someone who just fucking Googled “NIN” and spent 5 minutes researching. In particular, time has shown that there is nothing unimpeachable about DWS. It’s a real headtrip sure, but it’s a mess of a record that would not…I repeat would NOT be so highly favored if it came out in 2004 instead of ’94. Rock critics are such great generalists…and the years ’91 – ’94 are given some unnecessary hegemony of critical awe.

    All of this is just to say…The Fragile, WTF??? Should have been top 3, easily.

    Reply
    • raptor jesus  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +4

      I dunno about it not being equally received in 2004. I was late to NIN and spent the most time listening to The Downward Spiral in 2004 & 2005. My views of its masterpiece status stem from that era when I listened to it damn near every day.

      It’s an incredibly well executed concept album and some of the best songs on that album have aged FAR BETTER than, say, “The Hand That Feeds” or “Starfuckers Inc.”

      Reply
    • Nathan Christensen  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +2

      You could pick any classic album and argue that it might not have been well-received a decade later.

      Reply
  18. Bryan Mack  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +5

    I’m surprised more people haven’t jumped on here so far expressing surprise at The Fragile being as low as it is. It’s the one I listen to the most, the highs on it are probably higher (for me) than any other peaks Trent has reached and it has more variety than any other release. It’s my go-to album for driving in the middle of the desert late at night.

    Reply
    • Luke Worle  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +3

      I’m with you. There is no way at all that With Teeth is a more solid and crafted cohesive work then The Fragile. My old band worked with Tom Baker himself who masters Trents Albums and he himself said that The Fragile was the best thing Trent’s ever done. To see The Fragile overtaken by one of Trent’s least works is a major bummer. Not to disrespect Joseph, but I just can’t agree with those choices. To see The Slip so far in the back too was another jaw dropper. But kudos for The Downward Spiral at number one.
      This list isn’t going to please all NIN fans, but at least we can all agree to disagree and simply enjoy Trent’s rich legacy. Every album offers something and to some people, they find more gold in one record and I find coal in it instead. Either way, there’s no accounting for taste I guess. I just would have done:
      1. The Downward Spiral
      2. The Fragile
      3. Broken
      4. Pretty Hate Machine
      5. Year Zero
      6. Hesitation Marks
      7. The Slip
      8. With Teeth
      9. Ghosts
      10. Non NIN related stuff ( which really I don’t even factor into the equation)

      Reply
      • Joseph Schafer  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +1

        No disrespect taken! Your list and mine aren’t actually ALL that different. I think the expansive, bind-blowing experience most people got from The Fragile was something I only got from Year Zero.

        Reply
        • Luke Worle  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 0

          The cool thing though is that I think your list was really good and you saw the good in most of Trent’s stuff. As a fan of his work, I think that’s really cool. You highlighted a lot of the strengths of each record and some of the weaknesses too. I still might like certain records more or for different reasons, but it’s clear that you’re truly a NIN fan. That’s what makes your article cool and legit. I do agree that The Fragile pared to one disc might have given it more cohesion and there are some filler tracks on it, but that record for me, at least, is the last time I felt Trent really connected his angst and his art in an extremely compelling way. Although, Hesitation Marks inches closer to The Fragile more then any other record since then I feel.
          Thanks for writing back too. Cool of you. And great article Joseph, very well done.

          Reply
      • Marlina Guzman  |   Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 +1

        Yeah, I just couldn’t get into HTDA.

        Reply
  19. Jorge Suzarte  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +2

    Two releases from How To Destroy Angels_ better than “Hesitation Marks” = No No No. And also, I consider that The Fragile deserves to be higher, only because of “The Great Beyond”.

    Reply
    • raptor jesus  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 +1

      “La Mer” into “The Great Below” is a leveling experience, only to be brought back into round 2 with (my personal favorite) “The Way Out Is Through”

      So happy to see lots of commenters jumping to the defense of The Fragile.

      Reply
      • alif_aleph  |   Posted on Oct 2nd, 2013 0

        The Way Out is Through and The Great Below are such cathartic pieces of music. The Greater Good, Zero-Sum, Beside You in Time, And All That Could Have Been and Somewhat Damaged also have a strong cathartic reaction. Of course Hurt (quiet) and much of what is off of TDS does this too.

        Reply
  20. Felix Thunderbolt  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 -1

    Given that The Fragile and With Teeth are lyrical embarrassments, I would put The Slip and (probably) Hesitation Marks ahead of both. However, if you were to cut out approximately half of The Fragile’s garbage out, it would arguably be NIN’s best album, so I could understand why someone might place that album higher on the list.

    1.The Downward Spiral (also lyrically immature in spots, but somewhat justifiably so)
    2. Year Zero
    3. The Slip
    4. Pretty Hate Machine
    5. Broken
    6. Hesitation Marks
    7. The Fragile
    8. With Teeth (this is actually the first CD I ever bought)
    9. Ghosts I-IV

    Reply
  21. timoneil5000  |   Posted on Sep 16th, 2013 0

    I think there’s something wrong with the HTML for this page, it’s only listing THE FRAGILE as #7, and not #1. You should fix that before people get the wrong idea.

    Reply
  22. Marlina Guzman  |   Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 0

    I can’t believe Ghosts is placed so far below and why some rant about T-Rez’s lyrics. I happen to find so much poetry in his lyrics. Sure, he is not Tori Amos lyrically but he does make his point.
    NIN has been my favorite band since I was 13 back in ’94. It’s really hard to rank all of his discography because each album have some fantastic gems. So, I really can’t rank all of the T-Rez’s stuff but I will say this:

    With Teeth, Ghosts, Still (Yes, I’m including Still in my list) are around the top of my list. Year Zero has to be around the bottom of my list. I’m excluding all the HTDA stuff because I just really couldn’t get into any of that stuff.
    Big shout out to Non Entity which is not on any album but is one of Trent’s finest songs.

    Reply
  23. Ian Dawson  |   Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 0

    Can’t get behind this list. I usually try to understand and accept why some things are higher or lower than I’d like them to be. Taste is taste and popularity is always a factor in a list of this sort. But too much of this is pandering bullish (is bs more acceptable?). In this case, I don’t care about awards or popularity, I care about what was good, what connected, and then everything else. Nine Inch Nails and Trent Reznor just means too much to me to accept your generalizations.

    Reply
  24. Roger Camacho  |   Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 +3

    I listen to The Social Network soundtrack more than The Fragile, Welcome Oblivion and Hesitation Marks……. SAID NO ONE EVER.

    Reply
  25. raptor jesus  |   Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 +2

    Feels like we might as well have thrown in the Lost Highway soundtrack.

    Reply
  26. whiskeyclone  |   Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 0

    I haven’t kept up entirely with everything he’s done this past decade, but of what I have listened to:

    1. Downward Spiral
    2. The Fragile
    3. Broken (2 & 3 are interchangeable)
    *minor gap*
    4. Pretty Hate Machine
    5. Year Zero
    *decent-sized gap*
    6. Hesitation Marks
    *minor-ish gap*
    7. With Teeth

    Reply
  27. spiritualize  |   Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 +1

    we need to get trent back being crazy on social media. that was a win for all of us.

    Reply
  28. Jim Rountree  |   Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 0

    geez. i’m surprised more people aren’t bitching about pretty hate machine being number one.

    Reply
  29. almotasim  |   Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 +2

    Downward Spiral and The Fragile on the top spots seems indeed pretty indisputable to me.

    Reply
  30. Kevin Broydrick  |   Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 +2

    BUT WHAT ABOUT FURTHER DOWN THE SPIRAL! THIS IS SOME BULLSHIT MAN! THAT SHIT HAD ITS OWN HALO FOR CRISSAKES!

    Reply
  31. ga  |   Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 0

    I’m always a Fragile guy. Everything is in there, his most atmospheric pieces, the cool instrumental stuff, the hooky industrial hits (which are essential to keep the album moving from a sequencing standpoint), the bad lyrics and limited vocal delivery. It’s all there. If someone were to ask me, what is NIN, I’d point them to The Fragile. Good, bad, and ugly.

    Reply
  32. bondagegel  |   Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 +1

    Downward Spiral is an obvious and easy #1
    The rest of the top four should also be obvious: Broken, Pretty Hate Machine, The Fragile
    The rest is up to the diehard NIN fans to argue.

    Reply
  33. wi_ngo  |   Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 +1

    I used to geek out on the ‘Fixed’ album (Broken ‘remixes’) It’s practically unlistenable, but at the time I thought it was one of the most far out things I’d ever heard.

    P.S. Ghosts is one of the better non-Downward Spiral albums. It deserves more credit.

    Reply
    • Marlina Guzman  |   Posted on Sep 18th, 2013 0

      You’re right about Fixed being practically unlistenable and Ghosts being one of the better non- TDS albums. I think the list should have included all the Halo releases. That way I can give more props to Still (Halo 17 CD2).

      Reply
  34. Marlina Guzman  |   Posted on Sep 18th, 2013 0

    Ok, so everyone loves The Fragile including me. But if you had to break it down between Left and Right, how would you rank that? (Food for thought.)

    Reply
  35. Charles McGarry  |   Posted on Sep 18th, 2013 +1

    I thought the Lights in the Sky tour was the absolute pinnacle of NIN’s creative existence( where’s the DVD?!) so both The Slip and Ghosts rank higher for me.
    1. Pretty Hate Machine
    2. The Downward Spiral
    3. The Slip
    4. With Teeth
    5. Ghosts I-IV
    6. Hesitation Marks
    7. The Fragile
    8. Broken
    9. Year Zero

    Reply
    • talkingnothing  |   Posted on Sep 19th, 2013 +1

      [web.archive.org]

      fan edits of LITS las vegas (fan footage) and “the gift (pro shot footage, soundboard audio). both are really good. this is a great release. free downloads, don’t know if they have physical copies left to purchase (not for profit). the NIN community is so awesome.

      Reply
  36. Nathan Marsh  |   Posted on Sep 18th, 2013 0

    You lost all your credibility with how high you put the social network soundtrack.

    Reply
  37. Par David  |   Posted on Sep 21st, 2013 0

    Putting Broken above Pretty Hate Machine is just absurd

    Reply
  38. Gustavo Arias  |   Posted on Sep 24th, 2013 0

    Ghosts for me is one of the best albums of Reznor, maybe the critc hasn´t dedicate the necesary time to listen to it.
    Lists sucks, but this lists is worst than that

    Reply
  39. bobbyvander  |   Posted on Sep 27th, 2013 0

    I haven’t read through every single comment but I have to echo many comments so far.. The Fragile should be higher up, and With Teeth down near the bottom. Also surprised that no-one has mentioned the live album “All That Should Have Been ” – while the live disc is worth a listen, the standout part for me is “Still” – the companion disc (which is the genesis of Ghosts and both recent soundtrack albums). I would even put it up somewhere near the top 5.

    Reply
  40. Janet Rose  |   Posted on Sep 27th, 2013 +1

    Probably the worst article I’ve ever read.

    Reply
  41. Ahmad Blitzenius Nazri  |   Posted on Sep 27th, 2013 +1

    The Fragile might be long for some others but I never feel like skipping any tracks and stop listening to it halfway. Even my non-NIN fans editor like the album.

    Reply
  42. Chelsea Seabaugh  |   Posted on Oct 1st, 2013 0

    Joseph Schafer, with all due respect, I do not wish to attack you, so much as I wish to reveal some strengths you ought build in our (readers and NIN fans) debt. So that I may understand your point of view, and regard you as one who is well enough equipped to write about Nine Inch Nails, I ask that you justify some of your statements. For example, could you explain to me, or us, exactly what deciding factors were considered when you mentioned that “Reznor’s strengths have always been hooks and lush production,” as this statement is a bit shocking, to me. I am also struggling with some basic and generic descriptors you used in your opening paragraph. In fact, though unusual and typically out of character for me, I am thoroughly displeased with this piece, and considering that the person, with which this has been centered, deserves a meaningful critique, one that does more than slump and slouch upon the rail of mediocrity. Unfortunate and thoughtless description is the area I feel is the most problematic in your writing, and since it did wreak of inauthenticity, I ought not bother with your list. “Bad kid,” “real music,” “sparked a joint,” and “Grateful Dead t-shirt,” are but a few generic phrases that merely do more than add to the word count of this piece. Later, you describe Reznor as a “singer-songwriter (which he is, underneath the electronics and black cutoffs)” I find this incredibly insulting, as a reader, and as a NIN fan. Apparently, one man can be the sole creator of several important rock albums, and yet require your assistance and uncovering know-how in order to be recognized as a singer, and or as a songwriter. You then go on to add that “Reznor has never been the greatest lyricist or singer.” I feel embarrassed on your behalf for saying, so haphazardly, that his lyrics are limited to such juvenile topics as “drugs, kinky sex, paranoia, depression, sticking it to the man.” I would just love to see where this unjustifiably judgmental nonsense is rooted. Trent Reznor manages to strengthen his lyrics with philosophical weight, a rather heavy substance, and throughout his career, has raised several questions that have not yet been deemed as answerable. I hardly understand why a 14 year old boy isn’t qualified, according to you, to understand such ideas beyond “drugs,” “depression,” and “sex.” So, I’m quite curious about what you seem to believe is evidence, in favor, of your opinionated, rough-draft-quality essay. If I do not learn about what perplexes me currently, I am in hopes that this comment may eventually find you humbled, for young fellow, you are not appreciative and respectful of your position as a writer’s voice in a rocker’s room, and you must reevaluate your sense of entitlement, as it has revealed much more than your incredulous opinions. Sincerely, Chelsea Seabaugh.

    Reply
  43. alif_aleph  |   Posted on Oct 2nd, 2013 0

    It’s good to see more and more pieces about TR and NIN. I’ve been very happy with all of his records and in general am just very fond of the sounds and emotions his work evokes. I think the best highs he’s produced in his music can be seen especially with his work from 1989-2002 (PHM-Still, with the addition of The Social Network soundtrack, which has proven itself to resonate with a much wider audience than just those who are familiar with NIN). With Teeth, Year Zero, Ghosts and Slip are all great albums too – so many songs on those records that I think are very well arranged. One of my favorite tracks ever by NIN is The Greater Good. I was happy to see Hesitation Marks return to his lush electronica focus. If you are to take out the lyrics of Hesitation Marks (which are decent, not superb by any means) it sounds like social network. This is a smart move for Reznor because TSN is going to go down like The Downward Spiral. It’s just a great, great work that will influence a whole new generation. That’s the great thing about his music and he did it again with TSN. Here is my list starting with his best work:

    1.The Downward Spiral
    2.Still
    3.The Fragile
    4.Pretty Hate Machine
    5.Broken
    6.The Social Network
    7.Further Down the Spiral
    8.Year Zero
    9.Fixed
    10.Ghosts
    11.Things Falling Apart
    12.Hesitation Marks
    13.The Inevitable Rise of Niggy Tardust/The Antichrist Superstar/Quake
    14.With Teeth //quite an enjoyable record, but composition wise his other work is better. All the love in the world, You know what you are, Hand that feeds, Only, Sunspots, Beside you in time and Right where it belongs are my favorites
    15.Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
    16.The Slip //I really like half the record -> 1,000,000, Discipline, Head Down, Corona Radiata, The Four of Us Are Dying and Demon Seed

    Reply
  44. Andrew Werling  |   Posted on Oct 7th, 2013 0

    Maybe I’m getting jaded or something, but while I loved Pretty Hate Machine when it came out … I was about 20 years old … it irritates me now. No staying power. I’m happy to see Social Network rated so highly.

    Reply
  45. Dissi Kotzboy  |   Posted on Oct 15th, 2013 -1

    this list doesn’t make any sense to me sorry.
    firstly “the fragile” seems to be the best nin album ever in the eyes of the majority of nin fans.
    secondly “hesitaton marks” is far more interesting than reznors soundtrack-escapism.
    “year zero” (silly fiction) and “with teeth” (silly rock) are forgettable releases which make “the slip” look comparable at least. “broken” is actually a bit laughable but could have been kinda interesting at that time.

    1. the fragile
    2. the downward spiral
    3. hesitation marks
    4. pretty hate machine
    5. still
    6. welcome oblivion
    7. broken
    8. the slip
    9. with teeth
    10. ghosts
    11. year zero
    12. dont really care about the rest

    Reply
  46. Karel Zich  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2013 0

    “Heresy” a weak track? hardly.

    Reply
  47. [email protected]  |   Posted on Aug 11th, 2014 +1

    In contrast to the Smashing Pumpkins list (which pretty much nailed it), this list is horrendous. Mostly due to the lack of respect for the Fragile and With Teeth being way, way too high.

    1) The Downward Spiral
    2) The Fragile
    3) Pretty Hate Machine
    4) Broken
    5) Still
    6) Hesitation Marks
    7) Year Zero
    8) With Teeth
    9) Ghosts
    10) The Slip

    Reply
  48. Daniel Kov  |   Posted on Oct 20th, 2014 0

    Downward Spiral > Pretty Hate Machine > Fragile > With Teeth > Broken > everything else.

    Reply
  49. Levi Sonny  |   Posted on Oct 20th, 2014 0

    Actually the sound at the beginning of the downward spiral is not of him getting beat up. It the sound of some girl moaning as she shooting ping pong balls out of her pussy recorded and played backwards! Member’s of motley crew where there also.

    Reply
  50. sdnabors  |   Posted on Oct 20th, 2014 +1

    You should have included the soundtrack to Quake. Some of the creepiest music I’ve ever heard.

    Reply
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