Reznor releases debut with How to Destroy Angels

John LaPine

When Trent Reznor, the lead member of the Grammy Award-winning industrial group Nine Inch Nails (NIN), announced the group’s hiatus in February 2009, there were some wondered about the project’s future.

However, Reznor fans were not left waiting for long. Reznor’s marriage to Mariqueen Maandig, vocalist of L.A.-based rock group West Indian Girl, later that year — along with a collaboration with longtime NIN contributors Atticus Ross and Rob Sheridan, spawned a new project: How to Destroy Angels (HTDA).

“Welcome Oblivion,” HTDA’s debut studio album, follows two relatively short EPs: 2010’s “How to Destroy Angels,” and last year’s “An omen EP_.”

The album opens with “The Wake-up,” a noisy, gritty instrumental track that serves as a Reznor hallmark.

Similar openers have been heard on many NIN releases, including the 1992 industrial metal EP entitled “Broken,” the politically-charged realease from 2007, “Year Zero,” and their latest release, “The Slip,” in 2008.

“Keep it Together,” the first single from the album, features complex production and deep lyrics that a lot of Reznor fans have come to love.

“How Long?,” the album’s second song, features what will probably be the most catchy, potentially even danceable beat listeners can expect from the band.

While less experimental than other tracks on the album, “How Long?” has the most potential to be commercially successful, and will likely be heard on college radio stations for the next few months.

However, the album never strays very far from Nine Inch Nails territory. The track “Ice Age” features Maandig’s soft vocals over simple, plinky strings. It’s a song that could easily be a remix from “Ghosts I–IV,” NIN’s instrumental album released in 2008.

Listeners will likely be able to hear HTDA’s attempts to escape NIN’s sound on the album. The tracks entitled “We Fade Away” and “The Loop Closes” both demonstrate the group’s blend of electronic and ambient elements, never becoming too overtly industrial.

In addition, Maandig’s sensual, whispering vocals add a certain femininity to Reznor’s complex production. This is a quality that remains largely absent from most of NIN’s music, despite the project’s ever-changing list of members.

However, the astute listener will recognize Reznor’s own muted voice on both tracks, calling back to NIN’s heavy electronica-influenced “With Teeth” era.

While the group never truly breaks away from sounding like tracks from a yet-to-be-announced fifth official NIN remix album, Reznor, Maandig, Ross and Sheridan’s first studio release is certainly still a high-quality piece of music.

In February, Reznor announced that Nine Inch Nails would resume a touring schedule in the fall of 2013.

For any fans looking to get their Reznor fix before the official NIN reunion tour can catch Reznor and friends as How to Destroy Angels on tour this spring, and surely they won’t be disappointed.