Perspectives on Pop Culture and the Arts

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

How to Destroy Angels

How to Destroy Angels is the collaborative project of Trent Reznor, his wife Mariqueen Maandig, and Atticus Ross. They've completed their first EP and, in the spirit of Nine Inch Nails's The Slip, have released it as a free download. The download is in 320 kbps - mighty nice of them. Or, for $2, you can get an HD download. A CD will be available July 6, and a vinyl at a yet undisclosed date after that.

The EP opens with the chilling, attention-grabbing "The Space in Between", which sets an ominous, heavy tone for the EP that doesn't let up much. It makes sense that a video was shot to this track, and the video pushes the song into even more gruesome and dark territory. "The Space in Between" is a standout track, for sure, but is hardly the only song deserving of praise.

The music often echoes NIN's Ghosts I-IV album. "Parasite", "BBB", and "The Believer" are songs that seem to channel the musical ideas in Ghosts I-IV most overtly, though Maandig's vocal contributions take these songs immediately in new directions. This is not to say that How to Destroy Angels is NIN in disguise - it's not. How to Destroy Angels naturally contains NIN sounds - how could it not? - but that's what I'm hoping for in a Trent Reznor project. That Reznor takes a backseat on vocals, contributing backing vocals on a couple tracks, and primarily contributing to the music is always exciting; I've always thought that Reznor excels foremost as a musician, technician, and producer. So, to have his wife's lovely vocals hypnotize and mesmerize on tracks like "The Space in Between" and "A Drowning" while Reznor and Ross work their music magic seems a glorious thing.

Overall, this first release from How to Destroy Angels is a fine piece of work. This is rather weighty, dark, serious stuff - even "BBB" with its somewhat amusing line: "listen to the sound of my big black boots." That this first release is an EP heightens its appeal, for it's enough to satisfy, but leaves you excited, curious, and hoping for more.

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