Nine Inch Nails return to our world was always going to happen, but that’s not a fact that made it any less sweet when it finally did. The return of Trent Reznor and co was always going to be a big event and because of that any album they released is destined to be picked over with a fine tooth comb. Thankfully, Mr Reznor is a man used to pressure and having done quite well for himself in his time off, even picking up an Oscar, he was obviously willing to take on the task and rebirth his baby with the release of Hesitation Marks.
Opening proper with “Copy of A” may not be the full blown Nine Inch Nails that some people might be wishing for. To expect that though is to miss where Trent has gone in the last few years with albums like Ghost and The Slip showing a very different side to Mr. Reznor that those that only listen to “Head Like a Hole” may expect. Because of that “Copy of A” feels almost stripped back, at least as stripped back as an electronic track can be, never really hitting the big roaring moment you might expect.
That’s a theme that resonates throughout this album, this doesn’t feel like a full blown spitting angry NIN album, but rather a melancholic approach, which is not always happy with where he is in his life as he sings “I’m running out of places I can hide from this” on “Running”. It feels like an album that sums up where Trent’s current post-rehab attempts to find a place in a world where he has recently had a child. It definitely has a lot more in common with How To Destroy Angels than it does some Nine Inch Nails stuff. Saying that though, this is still a band that have the ability to electrify you and if you don’t get excited during tracks like “Came Back Haunted”, which while not containing the heaviness of his youth are still expertly crafted electronic rock songs, then you’re listening to the wrong thing anyway.
There are times when this album missteps badly though, the 3 chord punk structure of “Everywhere” being the most obvious example. You can’t help but sit and wonder quite what they were thinking when they decided to record it. It’s so far from anything you know or expect from this band that you have to go through it a couple of times to make sure you heard what you did. While the whole thing is over long and by the end it’s hard to give it your whole attention. It’s all worth it though when you hear tracks like the simplistic beauty of “Find My Way” and you remember just how good these guys are.
If you’re a full blood and thunder metal fan this might not be the album for you. If you can appreciate music as music regardless of genre and are willing to let Trent and co take you inside his brain for a jaunt around then you should definitely make sure you get your hands on this release.