After 5-10 seconds of a sick digital beat akin to anything on NIN’s debut, Pretty Hate Machine, a surprisingly loud and poignant track called “The Eater Of Dreams” kicked off Hesitation Marks immediately asserting that Trent Reznor is once again in top form. As a long time fan I’m excited to say, with all B.S. aside, that this very well may be the man’s best effort since The Fragile, or dare I say it, The Downward Spiral.
By now fans have heard lead single “Came Back Haunted”, and while both a stellar effort and a best embodiment of the album in one song, it by no means represents the sheer awesomeness of this new record as a whole. Maybe the most relevant part of this first single though is the name itself. Not to sound cheesy, but this is Trent’s most haunting work in ages. Like an absolutely shocking soundtrack to a mid-nineties first person shooter (yes Doom and Quake references are valid), Hesitation Marks left me with some good ‘ol goosebumps – something that didn’t happen with the past few releases.
It’s a rare feat when a band so enjoyed in years past is able to offer a true return to form, capturing the essence of an old body of work and with it rekindle a special spark felt when first hearing such an impacting album. Hesitation Marks is one of those rare gems that not only accomplishes this, but does so in way that also demonstrates Mr. Reznor’s incredible progression as an artist. A modern vibe and never before heard elements (see the funky/jazzy 5th song “All Time Low”, the hip hop-esque verses and sick breaking beats on “Satellite”, and what sounded like an oboe on closer “Black Noise”) all intertwined with something that Nails fans of old will find so comforting and nostalgic (“Copy Of A”, “Disappointed”, “Running”, and the verse on “I Would For You”) masterfully marry together creating a solid new body of Nine Inch music.
Individually most of these songs are able to stand on their own as some of NIN’s better work, but when listened to in succession and especially in one sitting, the aural experience that is Hesitation Marks is something super-special and most certainly well worthy of your time.
Sure this reviewer may have been treated to a private listening party in the luxury of one of Toronto’s nicer recording studios over a top notch sound system, but believe you me, that by no means amplified this reviews’ positivism. If you don’t believe it then you’ll just have to wait to hear it for yourself come September 3rd. In the mean time, I’ll conclude by saying that Trent is back in a big way and this time he’s brought with him a haunting slew of mini musical masterpieces.
01. The Eater Of Dreams
02. Copy Of A
03. Came Back Haunted
04. Find My Way
05. All Time Low
09. Various Methods Of Escape
11. I Would For You
12. In Two
13. While I’m Still Here
14. Black Noise
Run Time: 1:01:59
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Check out the song “Came Back Haunted”