When Nine Inch Nail’s debut album “Pretty Hate Machine” (1989) was first released, it was greeted with little fanfare or commotion. Over time, however, through word-of-mouth, the album caught on. In the early 90s it became an underground and college favorite. Through constant touring and the emergence of the popularity of alternative rock in the early 90s, Nine Inch Nails started to take off. While fans eagerly awaited Trent Reznor’s proper follow-up, they eagerly devoured the stop-gap EP “Broken” (1992).
While “Pretty Hate Machine” went for straight-forward industrial beats, “Broken” is far heavier, more aggressive, with more guitars. While the club/techno crowd may have been more receptive to the debut, “Broken” is an EP that would just as likely appeal to metal fans. Equal parts metal and industrial beats, “Broken” can be seen as a prelude, or a sneak preview of what Reznor would unveil two years later with his masterpiece “The Downward Spiral” (1994).
Clocking in slightly past the half-hour mark, with eight songs (two tracks are hidden, two are instrumentals) “Broken” is pretty short. But the EP is so angry, so aggressive, with no reprieve; the shortness in length probably works for the best.
“Broken” features the NIN classics and concert staples, “Wish,” “Gave Up,” and (the hidden track) “Suck.” The lesser known “Last,” “Happiness in Slavery,” and a cover of Adam Ant’s “Physical” (also hidden) are no less memorable. Instrumentals “pinion” and “Help me I am in Hell” help round out the CD.
Back in 1992 when CDs were relatively new to consumers, having ninety-one silent, second-long tracks separate the final two songs from the first six may have been cool and inventive. Now, however, it seems kind of pointless. Still, it’s no big deal.
If you are a fan of NIN, “Broken” is just as essential to own as any of the studio albums.