Nine Inch Nails

Add Violence – Nine Inch Nails

Release Year: 2017

Rating: 8.5/10

Nine Inch Nails’ Not the Actual Events EP, the first in a trilogy, wasn’t the fury and fire we expected. While it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t all that memorable. The songs were decent and the mood was forced aggression. But with Add Violence, the second EP, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross hit their stride. They give us a record that successfully mixes new NIN ventures with the challenging and often chilling songs they’re known for. The result is ugly, unpleasant, and unfriendly, something Reznor actually wanted. But this doesn’t mean the EP is bad; it may be the best they’ve given us since their return.

Reznor lulls you into a safe space with opening track “Less Than.” Not as compelling as other songs, it’s the most accessible. It has catchy synth heavy music reminiscent of old school video games that makes you dance. The memorable hook doesn’t hurt either. The song gets a kick to the gut during the chorus when the music explodes in distortion. It’s reminiscent of Hesitation Marks sound and while it may not grab you at first, it grows on you over time. The mood shifts when we get to “The Lovers.” The music starts out quiet with an atmospheric air that slowly builds up around Reznor’s unnerving muted vocals. There’s a sense of unease with this song – the music creeps along as if waiting for something bad to happen. And lyrics like “Please don’t leave me here/I could stop it/Maybe I could stop it (if I wanted to)/But I’m not the one driving anymore” are haunting. It sounds like someone trying to regain control as they’re slowly losing it. It’s a great song that sets up the EP’s uneasy mood.

The stand out track on this EP is the chilling “This Isn’t the Place.” It opens on a fragile, haunting note with an eerie piano and synth that’s constantly swelling. It keeps you on edge letting you wonder where the song is headed next. It finally breaks when we get to Reznor’s fragile, broken falsetto vocals. He sounds scared as he sings “I thought we had more time” a harrowing reminder that life is short. Soon, the music swells once again drowning out Reznor and leaving you shaken. It’s a track that’s uncomfortable and unnerving, something NIN excels at.

Not Anymore” breaks up the atmospheric mood and gets back to the rougher side of NIN. The music starts out fuzzy and rough sounding before everything explodes and speeds up during the hook. This is more akin to their typical sound since it’s bursting with energy and aggression. While it’s not as unnerving as some of the other tracks, it’s the hardest one on the EP. It’s a frantic track that gets your heart pumping and your fists in the air like every good NIN song should.

The final track “The Background World” gets into the ugliness Reznor wanted to tap into. Clocking in at 11 minutes, the first half of the track has an electronic soundscape steadily building up to something heavier and darker. The last seven minutes are filled with an electronic loop that gets more distorted and garbled as time goes on. Everything gets more broken up until you can’t recognize the music anymore. It’s a compelling, yet uncomfortable experience. It’s easy to stop the song before it reaches this part, but it’d sound incomplete without it. Somehow Reznor managed to make this wall of noise an integral part of the song rather than unnecessary garbage to fill up the record.

Add Violence is a moody, atmospheric experience that shows Reznor can still make compelling music this late in his career. Whereas the previous EP sounded like blind fury and aggression that didn’t leave a lasting impression, this EP successfully mixes the old and the new. It’s a record to get lost in and once you come out, you’re left shaken. Reznor succeeds in giving us music that’s uncomfortable, which is where NIN shines. It’s clear that NIN is working up to something bigger and with this release. We’ll be waiting eagerly to see what it is.

Advertisements

Not the Actual Events EP – Nine Inch Nails

Release Year: 2016

Rating: 7/10

When Trent Reznor announced last year that we would indeed get new Nine Inch Nails music, I was ecstatic. Throughout the year, Reznor shot down any rumors of new NIN material. After months of speculation, he finally gave us new music. It’s not a new album, but it’s a taste of what’s to come. But rather than being a release that displays his best work, it’s more like something to shut up NIN fans and let Reznor work in peace.

Though trying not to make comparisons, the opening track “Branches/Bones” sounds like a leftover from Hesitation Marks. It’s brief, but the upbeat rock oriented music is similar to material from Reznor’s previous album. It kicks off the EP with a rush of energy thanks to the non-stop guitar riff that plows through the song. The music is loud and jarring sounding like it’s being played through blown out speakers. The track is decent at best, but it’s not that notable. At least it’s decent at kicking off the EP.

All the songs are solid, but very few of them stay with you afterward. “She’s Gone Away” and “The Idea of You” are good, but don’t grab you by the throat and pummel you like other NIN tracks. The only song that stands out is the eerie “Dear World.” Whether it’s the synth groove or the creepy opening vocals with Reznor singing “Yes, everyone seems to be asleep” this was the only song I actually remembered from the EP. The song has dark undertones as if something horrible is about to happen. Reznor’s monotone manner and the cold, robotic music makes it seem like something from an 80s dystopian film. There’s also a hypnotic air to it. The way Reznor speaks quietly seems like he’s trying to put you under a spell. It’s one of the coolest and unnerving tracks on the EP.

One thing the EP excels at is creating this dark, claustrophobic feeling. Songs like “She’s Gone Away” and “The Idea of You” have gritty music that puts you on edge. The former has a slow droning drumbeat as if ushering in some unforeseeable doom. And the way Reznor’s wails after the chorus gives it a haunting atmosphere. Everything in the song sounds so foreboding. The latter song has quiet vocals as if Reznor’s on the verge of breaking. Then chaos unleashes during the chorus when everything clashes together for a destructive mood.

The closing track “Burning Bright (Field on Fire)” continues the musical trend of impending doom. With the booming, fuzzy music it sounds like the end of days is coming. Just like with the rest of the EP, the music is the high point of the song. It instantly draws you in. The singing and the lyrics are where things get weird. The chorus of “break through the surface and” is fine on its own, but for the verses, Reznor does this weird spoken word style. Instead of being smooth, it sounds like a random rant. His flow goes against the music making it disjointed and off-putting. Near the end, the music and singing clash together creating a jarring wall of noise. It’s another solid song but doesn’t really hit that sweet spot for NIN fans.

Reznor’s always been a master of electronic music and it’s no different on this release. Each track has gripping music and is a mix of cool grooves with cold, metallic sounding electronic soundscapes. It’s the highlight of the EP. The same can’t be said for the lyrics which are forgettable. In his time, Reznor has crafted some of the most anguished filled, aching, and heartbreaking songs. Little of that is on display here. The lyrics seem meaningless and difficult to pinpoint what he’s trying to get across. Lines like “Still can make out pieces with the opening sewed shut/Yeah, parts of me are slowing down, time is speeding up/Spiders crawling everywhere, infected Japanese” (“Branches/Bones”) come off as forced. As if he’s trying too hard to be poignant and unnerving. They’re not as engaging or thoughtful as they are on past NIN releases. Hell, even the lyrics on Hesitation Marks are better. This makes it seem like Reznor rushed out this release to stop fans from asking about new NIN music.

The EP is solid, but does it really jump out at you? No. The songs don’t punch you in the gut like we expect from NIN. If anything, they’re fairly decent rock songs with some electronic elements. The EP isn’t terrible, but it’s far from Reznor’s best. There are bits and pieces of past NIN releases in the song, like elements of The Fragile, but few of them leave an impression. You’ll find yourself struggling to remember most of the songs after listening to it a few times. Very little about it is notable and there’s little to say about it. The strongest point is the music, but the lyrics fail to be engaging. For fans longing for a NIN release, this isn’t going to satisfy them for long. Still, it does make me excited for what NIN has in store for us. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long for more new music.

Top 10 Songs About Other Musicians

Even though musicians are famous, have tons of fans, and perform across the world it doesn’t mean they can’t fan out from time to time. Musicians aren’t afraid to address each other in song. Sometimes it comes from a place of love or an homage to someone they admire. Other times, it can be kind of ugly, a snarky tune dedicated to someone they don’t care for. The songs can be obvious and other times the dedication is well hidden. There are too many songs about other musicians to name, so here are ten of the most notable songs about other musicians.

10. “Obsessed” – Mariah Carey

Ever since his third album, The Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem claimed that he and Mariah Carey were once an item. But aside from dropping her name in a few songs, neither one have commented further on the supposed relationship. When her name appeared again on “Bagpipes from Baghdad” with the rapper calling out her then-husband, Nick Cannon,Carey decided she had enough. She wrote this song in responsive to the rapper’s claims calling them false, saying he’s obsessed with her, and that he’s delusional. And to make things even clearer, Carey plays an unnamed rapper in the video chasing after…herself. Of course, Eminem didn’t take this lightly and released his own response titled “The Warning.” What’s even more strange than the situation is thought of Eminem and Mariah Carey dating in the first place.

9. “Michael, You’ve Got a Lot to Answer For” – Duran Duran

The Michael in question here is INXS’ Michael Hutchence. The song kinds sound of somber, especially with the singer’s death, but it didn’t start out that way. The song is actually about Simon LeBon’s friendship with Hutchence. In an interview with Q Magazine, LeBon says the song is about Hutchence being “a naughty boy” in France and London. He apparently did so many substances LeBon couldn’t keep up. The song was released a month before Hutchence died on November 22, 1997. It’s sad that an ode to friendship took on a sad meaning not shortly after it was released.

8. “Tunic (A Song for Karen)” – Sonic Youth

Karen Carpenter, singer, and drummer for The Carpenters, tragically died in 1983 due to complications from anorexia nervosa. Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon wrote this song years later trying to put herself in the late singer’s shoes. The frenetic guitars and the memorable hook of “You are never going anywhere” don’t exactly mask the dark connotations of this song. There are references to Karen’s eating disorder and lines about losing who you are. There’s even a verse where Gordon imagines the singer up in heaven, happy, and playing drums again. When asked about the song 20 years later, Gordon said “I was trying to put myself into Karen’s body. It was like she had so little control over her life, like a teenager – they have so little control over what’s happening to them that one way they can get it is through what they eat or don’t. Also, I think she lost her identity, it got smaller and smaller. And there have been times when I feel I’ve lost mine.” It’s a tribute to the singer that catches you off guard since it’s not sappy or sad.

7. “Dude Looks Like a Lady” – Aerosmith

Probably best remembered for its use in Mrs. Doubtfire, this song talks about an androgynous guy who is mistaken for a woman. Looking at the lyrics it doesn’t seem Steven Tyler minds all that much saying “you may be wrong/but you know it’s alright” and he even does a little cross-dressing of his own in the video. The origin story for the song changes depending on the source: Tyler says the song came from hearing Motley Crue saying “Dude!” all the time. Vince Neil says the song was inspired by a New York bar where the waiters dress in women’s clothing. But Nikki Sixx says the song is actually about Tyler mistaking Vince Neil for a woman in a bar. It’s wasn’t hard to do; did you see the way he dressed in the 80’s? It doesn’t really matter how the song came about because it’s an Aerosmith classic. Though I prefer to believe it’s about Vince Neil; it’s funnier that way.

6. “Tearjerker” – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Many songs were written about Kurt Cobain after his shocking death. The Chili Peppers added their contribution with this track from their sixth album One Hot Minute. It’s a ballad where Anthony Kiedis sings about his reaction to Kurt’s death and what he liked so much about the singer. With lines like “I liked your whiskers/I liked the dimple in your chin/your pale blue eyes” and “you never knew this/but I wanted badly for you to/requite my love” it’s more like a love song to Cobain. Though the two worked together on an MTV special, they weren’t all that close. But Kiedis explains Kurt was someone everyone felt close to. “I don’t know why everyone on earth felt so close to that guy; he was beloved and endearing and inoffensive in some weird way. For all of his screaming and all of his darkness, he was just lovable.” It’s a sweet song that’ll make Nirvana fans smile.

5. “Cry Me a River” – Justin Timberlake

Though Timberlake has denied it since the song’s release, we all know this song is about his ex-Britney Spears. The basis of the song is a bad break up and pretty much not giving a shit about the person. It also makes several references to infidelity, which is what apparently ended the pair’s relationship. And to top things off, Timberlake’s lover in the video looks like Spears. Anyone who saw the video pretty much knew who he was talking about. The singer finally admitted in 2011 that he wrote the song after the two had an argument. So even if the song isn’t a direct attack on Britney Spears, she was still an inspiration. The break up was nasty, but maybe now he can thank her since it gave him one of his biggest songs to date.

4. “Suicide Blonde” – INXS

INXS frontman Michael Hutchence was known as a playboy in the 80s, but his most infamous relationship was with Kylie Minogue, you know the one responsible for that song. Rumor has it the Aussie singer inspired Hutchence to write the song since she dyed her hair blonde for a role in the film The Delinquents. Neither one ever confirmed the song’s origin, but with lyrics about a red hot lover who has men landing at her feet, it makes a lot of sense. Only Hutchence knows the true significance. Either way, it ended up being an INXS classic and has that sexy flair only Michael Hutchence could pull off so flawlessly.

3. “I’ll Stick Around” – Foo Fighters

Though Dave Grohl wrote a beautiful and touching song about Kurt Cobain called “Friend of a Friend” that deserves to be mentioned, his song attacking Cobain’s widow Courtney Love, gets him on the list. It’s a fan favorite and many picked up that Grohl was attacking someone. With lines like “I don’t owe you anything” there was speculation it was about Cobain. Grohl finally admitted in 2009 it was actually about Courtney Love, which you can see in lines like “how could it be/I’m the only one who sees/your rehearsed insanity.” He sings about how he regrets letting her and Cobain hook up and that he can see through her deceptiveness. It’s a hate filled song of the best kind, but it seems Grohl has forgiven Love in later years. The two made amends at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Grohl wouldn’t be the only artist to blast Love on a track; Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” is about the Hole singer as well.

2. “Ms. Jackson” – Outkast

“Ms. Jackson” is the best song by Outkast with sick flows and a memorable hook you’re still singing to this day. The duo sings about “Ms. Jackson” who doesn’t approve of her daughter’s relationship with a guy and when they end up having a baby, it only makes things worse. Turns out, the song is based on true events. Andre 3000 dated Erykah Badu and the two ended up having a child out of wedlock to the disapproval of her mother. 3000 said he felt he never got to explain his side of the story and didn’t like being kept out of his kid’s life on purpose. As a way of reaching out to her mother, he wrote this song to apologize and say how much he wanted to be a part of his kid’s life. Badu’s mother loved it and hopefully it patched up their relationship. Hearing so much truth put into this song makes it even more appealing and it’s still a hit 16 years after its release. Wait, really? Now I feel old.

1. “Say Hello 2 Heaven” – Temple of the Dog

In March 1990, Andrew Wood, frontman of Mulfunkshun and Mother Love Bone, died of a drug overdose. Chris Cornell, Wood’s friend, and roommate took the news hard. Soundgarden were touring Europe at the time of his death and feeling like he had no one to talk to, wrote two songs: “Reach Down” and “Say Hello 2 Heaven.” Instead of putting it on a Soundgarden album, Cornell teamed up with most of Pearl Jam and formed Temple of the Dog in his honor. “Say Hello 2 Heaven” is a tribute to Wood where Cornell deals with his grief and even makes a reference to not knowing the demons his friend was dealing with. It’s a powerful song where Cornell let’s his insane vocal range fly near the song’s end. Wood’s death didn’t only affect Cornell. It also had an effect on Alice in Chains, who wrote the song “Would?” about him along with others in the grunge scene that tragically passed. It’s sad to think Layne Staley would meet a similar fate 10 years later.

Honorable Mention:

“Starfuckers Inc.” – Nine Inch Nails

Trent Reznor hates celebrities and pop culture. He makes this clear in this single from The Fragile. Being one of Reznor’s heaviest and aggressive songs, it takes the piss out the vanity and shallow commercialization of fame. It even makes a reference to Carly Simon’s famous song “You’re So Vain.” But rumor has it the song is actually about Marilyn Manson. Reznor had a falling out with Manson twice, though Manson does appear in the song’s video. Others say it’s about Courtney Love. Reznor hasn’t confirmed or denied the rumors, so the track ends up getting an honorable mention. It’s just too biting and sassy to leave off.

There are more than ten songs about musicians, so which ones did I miss? Which ones are your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

14 Alternate Videos

Sometimes bands aren’t happy with their music videos. Other times it causes such a stir that a different version has to be made. Whatever the reason some artist will release several different versions of their videos. And I’m not talking about different edits, extended, or censored versions. These are clips that they completely different from their original concepts. Sometimes the alternate video is better, sometimes worse. Either way, here are 14 videos with alternate versions.

14. “Disposable Teens” – Marilyn Manson

It’s not surprising to find shocking and controversial content in Manson’s videos and this one is no different. In the first version, there are several references to the Bible, including a reenactment of the Last Supper featuring a monkey, and Manson dressed up as the Pope. It’s actually one of his better videos full of gruesome and awesome imagery. The same can’t be said for the second version. This one is comprised only of performance footage. Some of it was included in the original, but this one features the entire band miming the song. It’s still interesting to watch and Manson kills it as usual, but it can’t compare to the eerie original.

13. “Strangelove” – Depeche Mode

The original Anton Corbijn directed clip features many iconic images of the band and is one of their best videos. So it’s odd that they would decide to re-release the single in the U.S. a year later with a brand new video. Whereas the first version is cool and even a little mysterious, this one is just cheesy. It features a big corny set of sky scrapers to some nameless city while various symbols and the song title scrolls across the set and even the member’s faces. There’s one not-so-subtle shot of a heart moving across Dave Gahan’s crotch. All of the guys look uncomfortable as they mime the song while trying to avoid looking into the bright lights. Not even Gahan’s epic dance moves and spinning could save this one. There’s no question about which version is the best here.

12. “Gave Up” – Nine Inch Nails

The original clip for this NIN single features the band in the Le Pig house (AKA the Tate House) recording the song. There’s even a cameo appearance from a young, gaunt Marilyn Manson who helps out on guitar. It’s not the most exciting NIN video, but it’s entertaining. The second version is actually the conclusion to the infamous Broken movie, where the film’s killer chops up his victim while the song plays over the footage. Made to look like a snuff film, it’s gritty, gruesome, and at times difficult to watch. After one viewing it’ll stick in your head whether you want it to or not. If you can’t handle this then you may want to avoid this entire movie.

11. “Hot in the City” – Billy Idol

The original clip to this Idol single is pretty tame and kind of dull. It’s the singer in front of a green screen dancing while images of New York and explosions pop up behind him. Being a product of the 80s, let’s just say it hasn’t aged very well. Idol redid the video in 1987 with a more “intricate” concept. It begins with Idol dancing in a decrepit apartment followed by him peeping in on some weird S&M club/sex party via a hole he made in the wall for no reason. Lots of grinding, thrusting, and fist pumping comes after that, but during this time it was just standard Idol fare. This version ended up being banned by MTV for the closing scene that feature Idol’s then girlfriend Perri Lister strung up on a cross. Even though this one has the bigger budget, I’ve always liked the first version. Sometimes simple is all you need.

10. “In One Ear” – Cage the Elephant

The original clip, which also marks their first music video, features the band performing in a padded cell while singer Matt Shutlz does what he’s known for: flail around the room spastically. The single was then re-released in 2010 with a new video directed by Issac Rentz. This version has more of a wild, house party vibe as the band perform, run around, destroy a school bus, and have what looks to be a kick ass time. Just like the previous clip, this one also shows off Shultz’s wild dance moves and his love of crowd surfing, which he does during the bridge. Both of the videos are fun and do a great job showing off the band’s style. The first version is a little more humorous since Matt is jumping around in a hospital, scaring the shit out of the other members, and making funny faces, but both do the song justice.

9. “Killing Loneliness” – HIM

For this track from their 2005 effort Dark Light, HIM released a UK and a US version of the video. The more well known US version features the band performing in a club and has an appearance by Kat Von D. The more interesting, yet slightly weirder UK version finds the band working in a coin operated peep show while various patrons get their HIM fix. It only gets weird when some of the people get hot and bothered by the performance and begin taking off their clothes or are clearly on the verge of an orgasm. Maybe they thought it would be too much for the States to handle and released the more tame version. But no matter which video you watch you’ll still get your fill of Ville Valo close ups, which is what most HIM fans want.

8. “My Friends” – Red Hot Chili Peppers

What’s interesting about the two videos made for this song is most people are actually familiar with alternate version, so much so I always thought it was the original. The video that’s considered the official one, and is the second version, features shots of the band in the studio playing the song. Nothing more than that, but the first one shot was actually more interesting. The band is on a canoe in the river in various costumes. It starts out pretty simple, but then it gets weirder as they don strange outfits and make up. There’s even a shot with Anthony Keidis where his long hair is standing straight up. It’s a bit weird and may not be easy to figure out what the hell is going on, but it’s definitely more appealing since something is actually happening in the video. Rumor is they felt the video was too artsy and may alienate their fans, which is funny because going by the video comments many prefer the first version.

7. “Viva La Vida” – Coldplay

The original clip for Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” is pretty standard video fair: the band performs the track against a blurry and distorted background. Not super amazing, but not terrible either. Alongside this version, the band released another video for the single directed by Anton Corbijn. What makes this one so special is it pays homage to Depeche Mode’s clip for “Enjoy the Silence.” There’s the same fuzzy quality and Chris Martin walks around in a similar king getup as Dave Gahan. It’s a faithful reenactment and a cool way to honor a timeless video.

6. “They Don’t Care About Us” – Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson ran into some controversy with the release of the fourth single from HIStory. First it was the lyrics, which you can read all about the offending line here. Then there was the original music video directed by Spike Lee featuring Jackson dancing and singing in Rio de Janerio. The state tried to ban Jackson from filming there because they feared images of the poverty stricken areas would affect tourism. Jackson was even accused of exploiting the poor people there. A judge banned all filming from taking place but this was overturned by an injunction. 1,500 policemen stood surrounding Jackson along with residents who were singing and dancing with the artist. Since it stirred up so much controversy, Jackson filmed a second version that found him in prison with other inmates while disturbing footage of riots, war, the KKK, and police attacks were shown. Considering the harsh, difficult content found in this version, it’s surprising that the original was the troublemaker.

5. “You Only Live Once” – The Strokes

No matter which version you get, both clips for this Strokes single are pretty awesome. The original, directed by Samuel Bayer, features the band in a small space performing the song while the room fills with tobacco tar. The band keeps playing even when they’re completely submerged under the goo. It’s a simple concept, but it works. The second video is a little more elaborate. Footage of the band performing is mixed with shots of a space ship clearly patterned after 2001: Space Odyssey. This one was directed by Warren Fu and premiered a year after the original. Unlike the stylish first version, this one is seen as a protest against war, hunger, and consumerism.

4. “In Bloom” – Nirvana

Back when they were on Sub Pop, Nirvana released “In Bloom” as a single along with making a music video for the Sub Pop Video Network Program. It’s pretty simple clip featuring the band walking about Manhattan being silly. The song got the video treatment again when it was re-released for their 1991 album. This time around, the band takes the piss out of 1950’s variety programs where artists were praised for being clean cut. Shot entirely in black and white, the guys look straight laced and strange in stiff suits and slicked back hair. Cobain even sports some black rimmed glasses. This is mixed with footage of them destroying their set while wearing dresses. It ends with them back in the suits standing on top of the broken set while the announcer praises them for being nice young men. There were actually three different edits of the latter vid: this one, one with only footage of the band in dresses, and one with all suits.

3. “Stockholm Syndrome” – Muse

Similar to HIM, this single received two videos for the UK and the US. Shot entirely with thermal cameras, the first version is the creepiest video Muse has to offer. Since the camera displays the varying temperatures on everything, much of what’s going on in the video is distorted making them even just performing seem disturbing. It doesn’t help that they keep splashing water around which looks like blood being spilled thanks to the camera. Matt Bellamy look like a foreign being as he sings. The alternate version for the States features the band performing on a cheesy late night show when the sky goes red and an intense wind comes in and destroys the set taking the show’s guests with it. Both vids are intense and do a great job capturing the vibe of the song, but the original is unnerving, no doubt about it.

2. “Sick, Sick, Sick” – Queens of the Stone Age

If you thought the original video for this QOTSA single, which featured a lady stuffing all sorts of food and human parts, into her face without any shame, then the alternate version is even worse. Filmed outside of the band’s label and later made the official video for Germany, this version features Wendy Rae Fowler and Josh Homme “dancing” in front of a green screen with flashing colors and weird images glaring behind them. It has similar animation the band previously used for the “Go With the Flow” video. This one is like a bad drug trip: one minute you’re looking at a hot topless chick, the next eyeballs, multicolored pills, and Homme’s distorted face invades the screen. It has to be their most bizarre video. It’s a bit weird, but worth it if you want to see Homme flail around like a drunken frat boy.

1. “Wait and Bleed” – Slipknot

Slipknot’s breakout hit got the double video treatment back in 1999. While the original and most well known clip features live footage of the band at Ozzfest, the alternate version is more unique and slightly creepy. Each of the members are depicted as little dolls that come to life and gang up on a man trying to catch them. It ends with mini-clown, who is the creepiest of them all, setting fire to the screen. Because of its stop motion style, it stands out among the band’s videos. The dolls are both kind of cute, like you’d want a set for yourself, but also disturbing. Out of the two clips, this one is definitely the coolest and gets right under your skin.

Which alternate video is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

Fixed EP – Nine Inch Nails

Release Year: 1992

Rating: 8/10

Trent Reznor is a beast of a musician who does everything from songwriting, playing various instruments, composing, and even producing. Since the early days of NIN, he’s handed over his songs to others to see what they do with the material. Now, it’s not surprising to find a remix album after the release of a NIN studio album. Though it’s technically an EP, the Broken release got the remix treatment in 1992. This release takes “Wish,” “Last,” “Gave Up,” and “Happiness in Slavery” and turns them inside out to the point of being difficult to identify.

There are two versions of “Wish,” both by J.T. Thrilwell, but first one is better than “Fist Fuck.” What’s so prominent about the first version is the heavy, tribal like percussion that plays throughout the entire track. The latter version has the same drumming, but since it focuses on distorted Timothy Leary samples and squeaky noises, it’s very repetitive and gets old very fast. The former remix features a lot of elements from the original song, but the mix sounds rough like it’s being played out of blown out speakers. Both of them aren’t bad and have their strong points, but out of the two remixes the first one is better and is interesting enough to listen to this along with the original.

There are also two version of “Happiness in Slavery” and both remixes are pretty solid. The remix by Reznor, Chris Vrenna, and P.K. has an electronic influence. With the various synth and techno inspired riffs it plays like the tracks from NIN’s debut LP. It has a mechanical vibe with lots of weird noises swirling around catching your attention. Like other mixes on the EP, this has very little traces of the original, but since everything else is sonically intriguing, it doesn’t really bother you. With how aggressive, brutal, fuzzy, and staticy it is, it sounds similar to Ministry’s best material. The “Screaming Slave” version of the song is trippy, confusing, and really disorienting. It sounds like fifty things are playing at once, making it difficult to figure what’s going on. Everything keeps shifting, steadily getting out of control as the song goes on. To amp up its grittiness, it also features clips of Bob Flanagan, who was in the video, being tortured by the mechanical device featured in the video. It’s an unnerving eight minutes you may not want to hear again.

Throw This Away,” mixed by Reznor, Vrenna, and Butch Vig, is the most difficult song to identify on the release. Not only is it because the music sounds nothing like the songs on Broken, it’s a mix of the tracks “Last” and “Suck.” The vibe starts out slow and methodical, with high pitched squelching noises drowning underwater. As this continues, bits of Reznor whispering “and I want you to throw me away” can be heard making it sound menacing and disturbing. Before the song ends, the pace abruptly changes and is suddenly upbeat with screeching guitars that sound like they’re dying. “Gave Up,” remixed by Coil with Danny Hyde, is disjointed in the beginning, which is what Reznor was originally going for. After that the pace picks up turning into an industrial club mix of the song. The vocals are choppy to the point you can’t make out what Reznor is saying. It sounds good, but compared to the other remix this one seems pretty simple.

This is only the first of many remix albums Reznor would release during his career. While initially I wasn’t a big fan of this EP, now I have a new found appreciation for it. Though many of the songs have two different versions, they are often diverse enough to not be dull. While some of the mixes sound like simple club versions, some of them completely flip the script and turn them into something new, disturbing, and scary, which doesn’t seem possible since it is the Broken EP we’re talking about. If anything it shows how Reznor isn’t afraid to let others handle his precious music.