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Nine Inch Nails: Hesitation Marks

Industrial icons play catch-up with their classics

Trent Reznor's decision to resurrect Nine Inch Nails, just when you thought he’d settled as the Oscar-winning composer du jour, is a typically contrary move from one of rock’s most unique characters. But which Trent do we get on Hesitation Marks?

Surely it’s too much to expect the nihilistic, single-minded genius Trent we adored on The Downward Spiral to return but, equally, bettering the shrugging, water-treading Trent of The Slip isn’t too much to ask, is it?

Correct on both counts. Hesitation Marks is a fine album that bears the hallmarks of classic NIN, reminiscent of the more synth-heavy Pretty Hate Machine-era material melded with the ambient Ghosts I-IV if you are looking for direct comparisons, but is unlikely to be mentioned in the same breath as Reznor’s finest work.

There are moments of sublime magic: first single Came Back Haunted, the minimalistic Find My Way and the chilling Satellite are filled with a dark beauty few other artists could manage, and on the pulsing In Two he still sounds as raw as a wounded animal, but there’s also the odd misfire, like the almost pop-punk Everything, that woefully lack the quality necessary to coexist in such a stellar back catalogue. Overall though, the Trent we get is a typically fine one.

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.