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With Teeth

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★★★★☆
(711 Reviews)

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  • First off, as far as where this album is musically, forget the comparisons to previous albums, they won’t tell you anything. To all those who say this album sounds the same as his others, you obviously haven’t listened closely enough (and of course they’re gonna sound somewhat similar – after all, it is the SAME person putting out these albums). To all of those who think this isn’t a masterpiece like TDS or The Fragile, you’re right, it isn’t. To be honest, I didn’t really want a “masterpiece”. Sometimes I just feel like listening to a good rock record that doesn’t demand deep concentration and focus to enjoy and to fully “get it”. Here, Trent has chilled out a little and given us a record that rocks, grooves, plods, and moves without any pretense.

    With Teeth is exactly the kind of album Trent needed to put out. The Fragile (and even TDS before it) were extremely involved, layered, and methodically planned (although it worked very well for those albums). With this album, you get a straightforward rock album recorded with actual acoustic drums (by the way, is Dave Grohl the only rock drummer around anymore??? it’s not like the parts he put down are complicated…), all the while still keeping Trent’s trademark production, piano lines, hushed to intense vocals, and varied song style/structure. Nothing Trent is doing here is extremely new, but he has placed variations on themes he’s explored before while adding an extra sense of musicianship – namely, more beat/drum n bass/groove centered songs, particularly on “Only”, “Sunspots”, “The Collector”, and the lead single “The Hand That Feeds”. He also expands on his layered, piano guided themes on “All the Love in the World” and “Right Where it Belongs”.

    Bottom line, don’t get overemotional about this release. No need to expect this album to change your life. This is Trent just jamming out and enjoying his craft.

    Posted on January 9, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I have read many reviews on here calling this album too similar to the others, and that it should have been the album after The Downward Spiral because it’s not close enough to the Fragile. This could not be farther from the truth. With Teeth, in the sound aspect and lyrical aspect, trancends so many fields of music in one album that it is impossible to call it too similar to the other albums. There are tracks that have elements of previous albums in them, but what Nine Inch Nails album did not have tracks that recall tracks from previous albums? And as a whole, With Teeth has a completely different feel to it than Pretty Hate Machine, Broken, The Downward Spiral, and The Fragile.

    The themes of With Teeth are strongly tied with Trent Reznor’s addiction problems, his coming to grips with the fact he isn’t where he thinks he should be, and finally, his facing of himself. These themes work in a concept like The Downward Spiral throughout the album.

    I hate reading reviews by those who simply calssify With Teeth as “teen angst”, because it simply isn’t. It’s a very thoughtfull and meaningful album, for the man who wrote it and for those who listen to it. I love each and every Nine Inch Nails album, and this is no exception. In fact, this is the most interesting of them all. As for fans who were unhappy with the album, I cannot be certain, but I think in time they will learn to like it. It is quite an adjustment from The Fragile to With Teeth.

    An incredible album. Mr. Reznor has shown us what real music is once again.

    Posted on January 9, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Sadly, its not. The new Nine Inch Nails is definitley more organic, which is what Reznor promised. The drums, the keys, vocals, everything sounds more live. NIN in 2005 is actually more of a “Band” than an expanded one-man project that it used to be. Dave Grohl’s drumming is pretty good I guess, it’s solid anyway. I’ll tell you right off the bat, if you loved Nine Inch Nails mostly for the heavy, loud, grating aspect they once had, then you will be disappointed with this release a little…you just will. If you, like me, like NIN for the lush melodies, cool drums patterns and an overall dark ambient/heavy feel then you will probably like this album. I will admit it is most definitley not Trent’s best offering…fans will attest. There is a prominent 80’s funky feel throughout the album. However, this is NOT in anyway the same style as Pretty Hate Machine, With Teeth actually expands on that style. I’m not doing a stupid track by track review b/c everyone’s opinions are different anyway, but the best songs that exemplify the new Nine Inch Nails sound is Only, Every Day Is Exactly The Same, and Getting Smaller. Definitley a retro feel going on here. The whole album is mostly bass-driven which is totally new for NIN. The guitar is there but its not as prominent as the bass. This combined with some warm, mellow keys thoughout makes this album very low and thunderous, while still being very melodic. Even though its not as dark as all the other albums, it sure as hell isnt all kisses in the sunset. This is just me, but I did notice some songs just seemed to meld together towards the end of the album…I couldnt tell where one song ended and another began unless I was looking at the track number on the cd player. The album is less-varied towards the end but still an entertaining listen, especially for Sunspots. That song is awesome. Sunspots sounds like old school NIN, with the throbbing low bass and the anthem-like guitar chord changes. Think Reptile, but updated. Take note when you listen to With Teeth that even the heaviest tracks on the album(You Know What You Are & Getting Smaller) arent even that heavy! There is little to no screaming on this release. But it’s still good. The only thing this album lacks compared to past releases is the anger. The dark, anger-induced lyrics that made past songs like Big Man With A Gun and Wish so heavy and gritty are not on this album. Nine Inch Nails intensity hasn’t backed down, but Trent isn’t angry anymore. I would most definitley recommend With Teeth to any Nine Inch Nails fans b/c without it, your collection is incomplete. I do recommend it to fans of rock music and industrial heads as well. It is definitley worth listening to repeatedly just like the other records. Just remember: This is far from a “masterpiece”. Trent has had several of those already and has chose to release a more straight-forward album. Why not? This is the best way I can sum up the new NIN album. You decide. Nuff said.

    Posted on January 8, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Nine Inch Nails are back with their fourth effort “With Teeth,” and once again Trent Reznor has made an outstanding album.

    Although the album has a sense of urgency, “With Teeth” is not as angry or intense as “Pretty Hate Machine,” (1989) or “The Downward Spiral” (1994). Overall, I think the actual songs on “With Teeth” sound most similar to those on “The Fragile” (1999). Unlike “The Fragile,” however, there are not any instrumentals. “With Teeth” gets more to-the-point. Although I personally loved the long instrumentals on “The Fragile,” fans who thought the album was too self-indulgent or long, may be more pleased with the format of “With Teeth.”

    One additional difference between “The Fragile” and “With Teeth” is the welcome addition of drummer Dave Grohl on several of the tracks. His playing gives the album more of a live, organic feel, and gives the sound a shot in the arm. Unfortunately, what tracks he plays on are not listed on the CD case and there is no booklet. However, you’ll know when you hear him.

    I liked “With Teeth” after the first listen. However, much like “The Fragile” this is definitely an album that grows on you with repeated plays. There’s a lot going on in all of the songs-subtle things, solos, guitars and keyboards-things that you might not pick up on the first couple times. It definitely gets better with repeated plays. Like all Nine Inch Nails albums, each song is meticulously and painstakingly crafted, there is no filler.

    The themes of “With Teeth” are similar to those on past NIN albums-loneliness, rage, fear, nihilism-but Reznor sounds less bleak, more confident, if only slightly so.

    The album starts out with the rather sluggish “All the Love in the World,” which has an almost claustrophobic feel. It sort of grinds itself along, and gives way to a satisfying buildup and sublime finale when the piano kicks in towards the end.

    “You Know What You Are?” sounds frantic, and is intensified by the pounding drums.

    “The Collector” has a really cool, almost funky bass line. It has a great groove and the chorus is really melodic. It’s very infectious.

    “The Hand that Feeds” was a good pick as the first single, as it is pretty representative of the album as a whole. This mid-tempo industrial rocker is very catchy.

    The slow-paced “Love is Not Enough” is one of the album’s more rock orientated songs, when the guitars kick in. The verse sort of rolls along, and then explodes into the chorus. The keyboard solo toward the end is a nice touch.

    I think “Everyday is Exactly the Same” would be a good choice for the next single. It has a very cool, low-key industrial background. It reminds me somewhat of “That’s What I Get” from “Pretty Hate Machine.” The song is especially beautiful when the piano kicks in.

    The album’s title track “With Teeth” takes a few listens to get into. It starts out rather sluggish and claustrophobic…and then…you can hardly hear anything, as Trent Reznor whispers the words over a faint piano…it’s very melancholy…and then it gets back to where it started, only now it is more intense.

    “Only” has a bit of retro feel; it sort of sounds like something Gary Numan or Devo might do. It has a lot of synths going on and is very interesting. It’s really catchy and I think a potential single.

    The fast paced “Getting Smaller” is effective and keeps up the momentum.

    The pacing of “Sunspots” is what makes the song really work. It starts out slow, builds up, intensifies, slows down again, builds up, intensifies, it keeps the listener intrigued. The keyboards and guitars are subtly added in and sort of creep up on you-it’s a cool effect.

    The distorted “The Line Begins to Blur” is mid-paced, but intense. It transforms and becomes hauntingly melodic. The guitar solo, while not technically brilliant, is really catchy and part of the song’s highlight.

    “Beside You in Time” keeps going on-and-off, like when you turn a radio off-and-on-this creates a really cool throbbing effect. The song actually sounds like it’s throbbing. The throbbing gets more and more intense as the song rolls along.

    The closing “Right Where it Belongs” is beautifully eerie. The piano and the underwhelming vocals really give the song a nice effect. The song builds up and gets more intense; but the song, and the album, go out with a whimper rather than a bang (not that that’s a bad thing).

    Again, this album takes a few listens to really appreciate. It gets better and better with successive plays. “With Teeth” is an album to be relished with repeated listens.

    If you’ve never liked Nine Inch Nails, this album probably won’t win you over. If you disliked “The Fragile,” you also probably won’t like this album. If you disliked “The Fragile” because of its long instrumentals, but liked the actual songs, you will probably like this to. Most NIN fans in general should be pleased with “With Teeth.”

    Posted on January 8, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Since this review is attached to the DualDisc edition, I’ll begin there. The 5.1 surround mix is worth the additional price for the DD; it brings the sound alive just as the 5.1 reworking of “The Downward Spiral” anniversary edition did. However, the additional content is pretty lackluster. The video for “The Hand That Feeds” is the one being played on MTV, not the fabled alternate clip. The discography contains short audio/video samples of NIN’s entire career, but they’re nothing new to any fan. It’s also important to note that the DualDisc format isn’t as universally compatible as the standard CD and can even get stuck and/or scratched in certain laptop and car CD drives. So, unless you plan on listening regularly to the 5.1 mix, I’d save the couple of dollars and stick with the regular CD edition. Now on to the album itself. . .

    It’s been over six years since the last full-length studio release from Trent Reznor, and a difficult six years at that. Reznor has since come clean about his battles with substance addiction and crises in confidence about his musical abilities. After hearing the pre-release single “The Hand That Feeds”, the Internet buzzed with hot-and-cold reactions to its more accessible sound. Had Reznor actually lost the edge that had produced so much crucial music over the last decade and a half?

    A single listen to “With Teeth” is enough put such concerns to rest. It’s a return to the “Pretty Hate Machine” idea of creating an album of songs, not a synth symphony with returning motifs such as “The Fragile” or an industrial-rock opera like “The Downward Spiral”. Each song displays a lot of maturity in the writing and recording – plenty of raw emotion gets across with less aggro-angst overkill (let’s face it – too much more of that and Reznor would have been on the way toward becoming a real self-parody). Some songs are upbeat, some are heavier than anything that he’s done before, some are delicate ballads that will have crowds waving lighters in the air. But the tracks still maintain enough continuity that no tracks are stranded – although diverse from song to song, the album is without a doubt a comprehensive work.

    As for the performance, each song on the record is geared toward being played as-is by the current tour lineup – not that it’s stripped-down, but you should be able to count on live performances sounding like the album without overreliance on pre-recorded tracks. Dave Grohl, this millennium’s hardest working man in show biz, laid down a lot of the drum tracks on the studio recording and the entire album has a very man-made, organic rock sound. The result is a very satisfying record, not just compared to other acts’ current releases, but also to NIN’s earlier works.

    Here are some notes on the tracks and how the compare to other NIN tracks:

    1. “All The Love in the World”: Begins with a complex almost drum-and-bass rhythm over quiet vocals and ends with a major-key piano chord progression over a multi-layered chorus of Reznor vocals. Progressive in the Radiohead vein but unmistakably NIN.

    2. “You Know What You Are?”: When nin.com promised that the upcoming tour would “destroy” audiences, this was the track that Reznor had in mind. A thrashy, incredibly fast beat immediately kicks off the track’s verse, sounding a lot like Ministry; this is broken up by a slower but incredibly heavy chorus.

    3. “Collector”: This is the first of several tracks that express the defining sound of this album: live, organic drums and heavy bass guitar building a rhythm that’s a mile-high and two tons of heavy. It’s reminiscent of “The Big Come Down” without so much electronic production. Keeping with the in-person feel, it also features a surprising but well-placed piano solo with discordant jazzy chords and scales – think Bowie’s “Heart’s Filthy Lesson” or “Just Like You Imagined” from “The Fragile”.

    4. “The Hand That Feeds”: You’ve likely heard it either like it or hate it. Get over the keyboard solo and get on board.

    5. “Love Is Not Enough”: A quick rock number that features another huge rhythm foundation and a complex beat that is reminiscent of “I Do Not Want This”.

    6. “Every Day Is Exactly the Same”: A mid-tempo electronic number that features many familiar NIN sounds. It includes a very memorable chorus that is anthemic without compromising its tone. It will get stuck in your head with no warning.

    7. “With Teeth”: Far and away the oddest track on the album. First off, it has a shuffling beat that will throw listeners off-kilter for the first several bars. Imagine an uber-muscular version of Siouxsie’s “Peek-a-Boo”. But the real kick is the incredibly quiet piano interlude in the middle of the song. This track manages to be possibly the noisiest on the album without resorting to the typical aggro conventions.

    8. “Only”: This, the second single from “With Teeth”, begins with a very unorganic eighties-throwback drumloop backing Reznor freestyling spoken vocals – not a rap, but almost a beat poetry reading. The mood and instrumentation are vintage NIN like “Ringfinger” while the very danceable beat is reminiscent of “Into the Void”.

    9: “Getting Smaller”: Another mosh-ready rock number similar to “You Know What You Are?”. Probably the most disposable track on the album.

    10: “Sunspots”: A slinky, seductive number that builds to a catchy rock stomp during the chorus. Think “The Only Time” from “Pretty Hate Machine”.

    11. “The Line Begins to Blur”: Trent’s vocals are at their emotional peak on this one. Virtually atonal during the verses, with live drums that are distorted and electronically chopped up to great effect. The chorus is almost dreamy in comparison but anchored by a 4/4 war-drum tempo. By the time it hits the chorus, this track sounds very much like “The Day The Whole World Went Away” except fully realized this time around.

    12. “Beside You In Time”: This is the track that is played under the recent web ad on nin.com. It’s not all instrumental, but it maintains it’s 2/4 electronica feel throughout. It’s a throwback to the Coil remixes on “Fixed”.

    13. “Right Where It Belongs”: The album ends with its sole quiet track. A plainly pretty melody (reminded me of the verses on “Even Deeper”) sung over top of keys and a detuned piano. Not quite “Hurt”, but not bad, either.

    “With Teeth” solidifies Reznor’s place in musical history by displaying his capacity for growth within the sub-genre that he created for himself. It’s undeniably Nine Inch Nails without being tired, repetitive or derivative of earlier works.

    Posted on January 8, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now