The last 18 months or so have been pretty amazing for Nine Inch Nails fans. Not only has there been new music in the form of two e.p’s Not the Actual Events and Add Violence, but there have also been shows to go with it. Nine Inch Nails are back and in a big bad way. When the first e.p was announced we knew that there was going to be 3 in total, and with the first 2 out we eagerly awaited the release of the 3rd. Well, the day has finally come and we once again have brand new music in the form of Bad Witch. Although I must preface this by saying that even though this is part 3, the other 2 are recognised as e.p’s and per Trent Himself this is considered an album, so this is technically the new Nine Inch Nails album.
Its 6 tracks long and just a shade over 30 minutes in length. I selfishly always want more Nine Inch Nails than I am ever given at any one time, purely because releases are usually so few and far between I just want as much as I can get. With that said I have enjoyed the shorter releases, there is an immediacy and urgency to them that makes them feel important and vibrant, it also gives all the songs the room to breathe and stand as their own thing rather than being weighed down or lost in a larger track list which can oftentimes happen.
So how is Bad Witch? Well, this may possibly be the darkest and outright bonkers of the 3 releases so far. This has Fragile era Nine Inch Nails written all over it. The opening Two tracks Shit Mirror and Ahead of Ourselves are perfect examples of the type of punchy dance floor anthems Trent has become known for. They sound like typical Nine Inch Nails singles, big metallic riffs, melded to distorted looped beats and that quiet/loud vocal that Trent does to perfection. It’s after this opening salvo that everything goes off a cliff and descends into madness very quickly Play The Goddamned Part sounds like someone took the Quake video game score that Trent wrote all those years ago and then added in some of the most haunting and creepy saxophone sounds ever committed to tape, essentially it sounds like the music that would be playing over the p.a in a jazz club in purgatory, as presided over by David Lynch.
God Break down the door is an interesting one as it takes the aforementioned saxophone and layers a more dance-based beat over the top of it. It sounds akin to the sound Bowie was achieving on his criminally underrated Outside album. It seems almost at odds with itself, but you kind of suspect that is the intention, to create something that is fighting against itself. The vocals remain restrained throughout which adds another unsettling level to it, which again makes it even more jarring when set against the backdrop of the music.
I’m Not From This World has a very icy, isolated vibe to it, it harkens back to the band’s Ghost era and even The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo score at times. It’s the most restrained and oddly serene moment, that hums away and bubbles under the surface, it creates an atmosphere and gives the audience a sense that all hell could break loose at any moment, but it never does. As far as instrumentals go it could be over time one of the bands best.
Over and Out, the albums last tracks has a very analogue chip tone feel to it, very sparse minimalist beat repeats itself and the saxophone sporadically reappears albeit somewhat sparingly. This may be the one track that gets poured over the most here, as Trent’s vocals are desolate and vulnerable and he says the line “Time is running out, what am I waiting for?” which could leave fans to speculate what he is really saying here. It’s a beautiful way to end a very challenging listen.
Nine Inch Nails have once again found a way to throw something new at their audience with a collection of songs that is not only challenging but also sounds completely different once again to what came before it, but also everything else in the musical landscape.
Bad Witch is 30 minutes of pure unfiltered Nine Inch Nails goodness that once again reaffirms Trent Reznor as a man with a wholly unique and uncompromising vision who creates art to challenge rather than for the masses. Whether he follows through on his one-time plan to connect all 3 releases into a singular reconfigured collection remains to be seen, but for now, we have something new to obsess over