After six years without a studio album, what do you know Trent Reznor didn’t commit suicide after all. Even more surprising the new Nine Inch Nails disc, With Teeth isn’t even Industrial. I for one am grateful, I mean how many times can you make the same album? This time around the keyboards and computers are held to a minimum. We get to hear grinding guitars and real drums beating the hell out of Reznor on some straight ahead metal tracks.
With Teeth starts off with the quiet piano track All the Love In the World which quickly changes pace into the pounding You Know What You Are. A track with helpful self-help reminders like “Don’t you fucking know who you are. . . You better take a good look cause I’m full of shit.” Then there is the single, the hook of the whole disc, The Hand That Feeds – the first bona fide NIN radio hit in a decade.
NIN has a bit of a history of losing focus and With Teeth is no exception. After the Hand That Feeds we get three filler tracks of meandering anger dumped over slow directionless rock. Things snap right back into pace with my favorite new track, Only. Only is something new for NIN, a bass driven rocker. Who knew Reznor had rhythm? The lyrics even go beyond normal Reznor anger with some actual embedded meanings, “I am alone, then again I always was/as far back as I can tell I think it’s maybe because/you were never really real to begin with/I just made you up to hurt myself.” Only is followed by Getting Smaller, a classic metal track that could have come from any recent era. Yet here again the disc loses focus with two slow grinding dark tracks that just act as a distraction from what could have been a perfect effort.
At least With Teeth ends well, with two very solid efforts. Beside You In Time, a killer slow piece that I could almost describe as beautiful. I might even go so far as to say peaceful. Right Where It Belongs ends the journey with what is probably the best song Reznor has written since Hurt. Right Where It Belongs is a slow piano track perfectly produced with classic Reznor lyrics, “What if everything around you isn’t quite as it seems/What if all the world you used to know is an elaborate dream/If you look at your reflection is that all you want to be?”
With Teeth has a real “album” fell to it, with a good start, fast middle and great ending. And thankfully none of the campy snippet tracks and samples that fill other industrial and metal discs with needless crap. Reznor, with direction from Rick Rubin did a great job producing what is at times some weak material. With Teeth is a straight ahead classic NIN, probably their best effort in over a decade. Some of the tracks fail, but after six years I guess you go to war with the songs that you have.
For NIN geeks, With Teeth also comes as a dual disc, with a DVD mixed version of the new album in 5.1 surround. Also don’t miss the Hand That Feeds single with techno remixes and With Teeth imports with extra tracks.