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Basically, fans will argue any full-length from 1989-1999 to be Trent Reznor's masterpiece, but honestly, Reznor is still bashing out awesome electronic / industrial jams to this day.

  • Pretty Hate Machine changed industrial music forever, giving the music more of an Ear Worm quality than ever before.
    • "Head Like a Hole" boasts one of the best bass riffs in the band's catalog. Essential "fight the power" anthem. It's been covered by artists as diverse as AFI to Dee Snider of Twisted Sister.
    • Or if you'd rather Rage Against the Heavens, "Terrible Lie" is the song for you. So strong and palpable is the angst in this song that it was a concert opener for several years.
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    • The absolutely haunting "Something I Can Never Have" is one of the eeriest songs the band ever made.
  • The Broken EP is a good, solid, half hour of Writer Revolt:
    • The brutal thrash of "Wish" announced NIN as jumping from industrial rock to industrial metal, and it was the first real sign of how awesome the band sounds when Reznor's really pissed off.
    • It wouldn't be a stretch to say "Happiness in Slavery" is the most abrasively industrial Trent Reznor has ever been. Of course, that's what's so cool about this song. Look up live performances of the synth part alone: it's INSANE to play without programming.
  • The Downward Spiral is one of the most beloved (or at least, one of the darkest) Concept Albums in rock history.
    • "Closer" of course needs no introduction; a twisted, synthesized carnal delight.
    • "A Warm Place" was one of Reznor's first attempts at a more ambient sound, and the result is a startling Mood Whiplash and a perfect way to break up the album.
    • "Heresy" is a hard-hitting fan favorite with a chorus that winds up being one big Blasphemous Boast.
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    • "March of the Pigs" despite its dizzying time signature is another thrashfest that one-ups "Wish" with additional textures. Still a live staple. Oh, that wonderful piano melody!
    • "Ruiner" is an epic and aggressive "Comfortably Numb"-esque track (according to Trent Reznor himself) which fits perfectly for intense war scenes from action movies.
    • "Reptile" has to be one of their scariest songs Reznor ever released. With a beat that sounds like a robotic mecha ominously stomping across a city and a riff that doesn't sound out of place in a Pantera or Type O Negative song, this song is a terrifyingly ominous Eleven O'Clock Number for the album.
    • Love it or not, the Title Track, especially with Trent Reznor's screaming "NOOOOOOOO-" and the muffled drumming heard in the background is pretty awesome.
    • "Hurt," still one of the saddest songs Trent Reznor ever wrote and a perfectly poignant Downer Ending.
  • Speaking of textures, repeated listens of The Fragile reveal lots of this:
    • "Somewhat Damaged" boasts a 9/4 time signature, and some strong catharsis after the events of The Downward Spiral.
    • All the instrumentals, particularly "La Mer" and "Just Like You Imagined," the later of which was used to great effect in the trailer for 300. Gorgeous, innovative, experimental rock music.
    • Are you a big fan of Need for Speed and Nine Inch Nails? Rejoice! "The Mark Has Been Made" is in Need For Speed: Undercover including a remix of "The Warning" from the Year Zero remix album.
    • Then again, if all you want is an explosive "fuck you" song, "Starfuckers Inc." is indispensable, glitchy glam-metal.
    • The thundering brutality of "Even Deeper" is often overlooked.
    • The one-two punch of "The Frail" and "The Wretched" showcases The Fragile perfectly. One is a gentle, ambient piano piece, and the other is a distorted nightmare with some of Trent’s darkest and most pessimistic lyrics.
    • The climax of "Ripe (With Decay)" at the 4:45 mark, with the badass acoustic, electric guitar build-up being heard in the background. It's just like it came from Fallout!
    • The title track itself, a shambling dirge which explodes into a glorious powerhouse of a chorus, is a real standout.
    • "We're in This Together" is seven minutes of pure industrial fury with surprisingly uplifting lyrics and a colossal anthemic chorus.
    • The noise rock/ambient powerhouse "The Day The World Went Away" is Trent at his most broken and hopeless, with blaring guitar bursts bookending the track with a glorious "Na Na Na" coda.
  • Nobody ever seems to mention With Teeth, while it isn't the project's best work, it did show that Trent still had it in him to make music.
    • "Only" is Trent Reznor embracing the dark, hooky synth-rock of Pretty Hate Machine again (the lyrics even reference "Down in It"), and it proves a thematic revelation. Plus, one of their better singles of the 2000s.
    • The title track is unhinged Funk Rock as only NIN can do it.
    • The first single, "The Hand That Feeds." A great "stick-it-to-the-man" rocker!
    • "You Know What You Are?" Three words: Dave. Motherfucking. Grohl. The song has a fury to it that makes it rather unusual on With Teeth, which is a rather mellow album by NIN's standards, but it's very welcome and doesn't feel out of place.
    • "Beside You in Time" is worthy of My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. Nothing more need be said.
    • "Right Where It Belongs" is a worthy Bittersweet Ending to the album with some introspective, philosophical lyrics.
    • The delicately trippy opener, "All The Love In The World", showed that after a few years of silence, Ni N were back and as strong as ever.
  • More or less the entirety of Year Zero, a grim Concept Album composed mostly on Reznor's laptop and featuring some of his most visceral work in years. It's by far his most critically acclaimed work of the 2000s. Special mentions go to "Survivalism", an fierce rager which harkens back to The Fragile, and "The Great Destroyer", which builds into a brutal digital hardcore breakdown.
  • Hesitation Marks. It's proof that an artist known for writing angst anthems can indeed come back with a mostly upbeat and positive-sounding album and not lose any of his spark or integrity. But if we had to point out specific examples:
  • The EP Not the Actual Events came as a surprise nearing the end of 2016. What it became was the most aggressive, dirtiest album since the likes of The Downward Spiral. Trent's vocals scream throughout the record when many people believed he could not scream to the extent he could in the past, yet with this release he had possibly made a release that is more unfriendly than Broken.
    • Many expected the first track of the album, "Branches/Bones", to be an instrumental opening, but the EP right away wastes no time in beating the listener to the pulp, short energetic industrial right from the get-go, ending on a massive terrifying scream.
    • The creepy, robotic "Dear World," in which Trent showcases how deep his voice can go, taking some things off "Hesitation Marks" and adding in a great deal of creepiness to give us a memorable track.
    • "She's Gone Away" may be one of the creepiest tracks Trent has ever put on an album, howling screams with the instrumentals sounding as if it was going to swallow the listener whole.
    • "The Idea Of You" is menacing and loud, one of the most aggressive tracks Trent has made since "You Know What You Are?" from With Teeth, with a paranoid whispery spoken word covering the track.
    • Extra special mention must go to the closing track of the EP, "Burning Bright (Field On Fire)". Even with how dark and heavy the track is, it feels strangely triumphant on Trent Reznor's part, like a victory of some kind, an acceptance of the dark side. Blasting guitars sound like a victory march. Lyrics sound almost empowering in a NIN kind of way, with an even stronger chorus, closing off the EP with a sense of journey coming to a close.
  • Add Violence might not have that much to it, but what it does have is awesome.
    • "Less Than" starts off sounding like synth thanks to the guitar riff, and then the chorus becomes distorted in that trademark fashion and Reznor just screams incredibly blood-pumping defiant lyrics. To say nothing of how infectious yet intense the song is.
    • "The Background World" currently stands as the single longest song in the entire discography, and it does not disappoint. The first four minutes are simply haunting yet beautiful despite how distorted it all is, including a gentle refrain midway through said four minutes. The next minute, while repetitive, carries a catchy melody, and the rest of the song continues to repeat the first three measures of said melody with increasing distortion. It's not something one would like on their first listen, but come the second or third, it'll probably be their favorite.
  • Bad Witch is possibly the most experimental thing Trent's put out in a while, and the effort really, really pays off.
    • "I'm Not From This World" is a plodding piece of ambient industrial that almost sounds like a throwback to Trent's work on the Quake soundtrack or a lost outtake from a Silent Hill game.
    • "Over and Out", one of NIN's longest songs to date and a brilliant closer for the new album trilogy. The beat and bassline will get stuck in your head for days, and Trent's crooning vocals sound more like Scott Walker or David Bowie than what we're accustomed to hearing.
    • The distorted drum n bass of "Ahead Of Ourselves" is another distinctive highlight from the record.
    • Bad Witch is often noted for its jazzy feel, and lead single "God Break Down the Door" is a perfect showcase of this, with spacey saxophone parts and warped bass riffs coating the track.
  • Reznor composed the main title theme of Call of Duty: Black Ops II. With its heartbeat percussion, electronic droning, and howling organs, it's certainly an atmospheric way to kick off a bloodbath of a violent, future war.


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