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|Studio album by|
|Released||June 22, 2018|
|Nine Inch Nails chronology|
|Halo numbers chronology|
|Singles from Bad Witch|
Bad Witch is the ninth studio album by American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, released on June 22, 2018, by The Null Corporation and Capitol Records. Their first album since Hesitation Marks (2013), it is the last of a trilogy of releases, following their two previous EPs Not The Actual Events (2016) and Add Violence (2017). Like with their previous releases, it was produced by frontman Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
Alongside the characteristic industrial rock sound of their previous work, the record ventures in a more experimental direction that includes jazz instruments, notably saxophone played by Reznor. It is reminiscent to (and influenced by) David Bowie's final studio album Blackstar (2016), whom Reznor had collaborated with two decades prior. At just under half an hour long, the record is NIN's shortest full-length release to date. The Cold and Black and Infinite North America 2018 Tour was announced alongside its release to promote the album, in addition to the album's sole single, "God Break Down the Door".
Upon release, Bad Witch was well-received by critics, who applauded its influences and production; some called it the band's best work in a decade. The album reached number 12 in the US and UK, as well as the top five of various Billboard charts.
In 2016, Nine Inch Nails planned a trilogy of EPs, starting with Not the Actual Events. The second EP, Add Violence, was released in 2017. Regarding the third entry in the trilogy and its delayed production, frontman Trent Reznor said:
|“||We started out with a rigid concept, having not written them all. As we finished Add Violence, we found ourselves... it felt too predictable. It felt like we were forcing things. Musically and storytelling-wise. The reason this has been delayed is because it took us a while for – what has become the third [record] – to reveal itself to us.||”|
Following a handful of concerts in support of Add Violence, Reznor was enthusiastic to begin work on the final part of the trilogy. After experiencing creative difficulty in the studio, he and bandmate Atticus Ross decided to focus on doing something "exciting" and "risky", which included the incorporation of saxophone. Those sessions led to Bad Witch, a studio album inspired in part by David Bowie.
While Bad Witch was originally set to be an EP, it developed into a full-length album; at 30 minutes in length, it is the band's shortest to date. Reznor initially saw the trio of planned EPs as one long album with three smaller components, but, after seeing how EPs tend to be overlooked (especially on music streaming sites), Reznor decided to promote Bad Witch to a full album.
Musically, Bad Witch is a concise album that blends the industrial rock aggression of Nine Inch Nails with slower and more somber moments, most clearly seen in the two instrumental pieces. Reznor employs a saxophone at multiple points on the album, and he occasionally sings in a way dissimilar to his normal manner, with some critics comparing the style to Bowie's. The album's first two tracks, "Shit Mirror" and "Ahead of Ourselves", are its heaviest and most direct. The third song, "Play the Goddamned Part", is the album's first instrumental. It slowly builds tension, emphasizing saxophone and experimental noises while working toward the album's sole single, "God Break Down the Door". "I'm Not from This World" is another instrumental, predominantly ambient song, described as "droning" and "hypnotic". The album's sixth and final track, "Over and Out", begins as a relatively upbeat, catchy electronic song but ends as a protracted wash of white noise that concludes Bad Witch.
Several critics have compared Bad Witch to Reznor and Ross' film scores. Others likened the album to Bowie's Blackstar (2016), and some to Reznor's soundtrack for the 1996 video game Quake.
|The A.V. Club||B-|
|The Boston Globe||Favorable|
Bad Witch received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 77, based on 23 reviews. AllMusic's Neil Z. Yeung called the album "frustrating", but also "the most cohesive and enveloping experience of this period". Terence Cawley of The Boston Globe gave Bad Witch a positive review, writing, "Reznor is still making records that crackle with restless energy. For an artist who once specialized in massive concept albums, the short-and-sweet approach of Bad Witch suits him well." Writing for NME, Tom Connick gave the album a perfect score, calling it the band's best release in a decade. The Independent's Ilana Kaplan noted that despite being only thirty minutes long, the album was full of complexity and would probably be received as a sensory overload. Writing for Q, George Garner considered the album an "excellent reprisal" of Nine Inch Nails' "industrial aggression", concluding that after thirty years, the band sounded reinvigorated. Spencer Kornhaber of The Atlantic felt that Bad Witch does not reach the highs of 1992's Broken or 1994's The Downward Spiral, but it does not dishonor them either. Drowned in Sound's Christian Cottingham was more mixed on the album, criticizing it for relying too much on previous Nine Inch Nails sounds and material. Sam Sodomsky of Pitchfork wrote, "for the first time in a long time, Reznor sounds like he’s got his eye on the future."
|2.||"Ahead of Ourselves"||3:30|
|3.||"Play the Goddamned Part" (instrumental)||4:51|
|4.||"God Break Down the Door"||4:14|
|5.||"I'm Not from This World" (instrumental)||6:41|
|6.||"Over and Out"||7:49|
Credits adapted from the liner notes of Bad Witch.
Nine Inch Nails
|Australian Albums (ARIA)||9|
|Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)||16|
|Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)||21|
|Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)||24|
|Canadian Albums (Billboard)||15|
|Czech Albums (ČNS IFPI)||39|
|Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)||43|
|French Albums (SNEP)||37|
|German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)||28|
|Greek Albums (IFPI)||68|
|Hungarian Albums (MAHASZ)||34|
|Irish Albums (IRMA)||50|
|Italian Albums (FIMI)||49|
|Japanese Albums (Oricon)||43|
|New Zealand Heatseeker Albums (RMNZ)||4|
|Portuguese Albums (AFP)||18|
|Scottish Albums (OCC)||6|
|Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)||31|
|Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)||5|
|UK Albums (OCC)||12|
|UK Rock & Metal Albums (OCC)||1|
|US Billboard 200||12|
|US Top Alternative Albums (Billboard)||2|
|US Top Rock Albums (Billboard)||2|