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Music / How to Destroy Angels

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Ghosts in the machine.note 

How to Destroy Angels is an electronic band formed in 2009 by Nine Inch Nails members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross alongside vocalist Mariqueen Maandig (Reznor's wife) and longtime NIN art director Rob Sheridan. Alessandro Cortini, a member of NIN's touring lineup, joined the band as touring support in 2013.

Named after Coil's first single, HTDA can be said to serve as something of a NIN supergroup but has also established a glitchy, post-industrial, and considerably poppy sound all of its own. The band's visual aesthetic (via promo photos and stage setup) was greatly influenced by Sheridan's passion for video-glitch art.

HTDA formed shortly after both Reznor's announcement of NIN's second official hiatus following the release of The Slip and his marriage to Maandig. As of 2013, their recorded output consists of two self-released EPs (a self-titled 2010 debut and 2012's An omen EP_) and the full-length album Welcome oblivion. The album was followed by a brief tour...and the news that Reznor would be ending NIN's hiatus and prepping for a fall tour.

HTDA effectively went radio-silent for a number of years as a result, although a cryptic Instagram upload around the end of 2019 could possibly hint at a return.

This band provides examples of:

  • Ambient/Electronic Music: Certainly more so that most of Nine Inch Nails' output, but still poppier than the Reznor/Ross soundtracks.
  • Anonymous Band: Played with. Their band photos (especially after Sheridan joined) are usually glitched-video screen grabs, and in their first tour, they played behind translucent curtains and were obscured by various light projections.
  • Auto-Tune: Employed in much the same manner that Radiohead used it: to sound entirely inhuman.
  • Bizarre Instrument: Despite being heavily digital/computer-based musicians, HTDA actively seek out quirky, custom-made analog instruments/controllers to help create their music. Here's one.
  • The Chanteuse
  • Crapsack World: The video for "How Long?"
  • Cover Version: Bryan Ferry's "Is Your Love Strong Enough?" on the soundtrack of the Americanized The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
  • Drone of Dread
  • The Faceless: Played with during the 2013 tour; for large chunks of the performance, the band were silhouettes.
  • Kill the Ones You Love/Kill It with Fire: The video for "The Space Inbetween," which shows Trent and Mariqueen as dead newlyweds in a hotel room - except that Mariqueen's Dies Wide Open corpse is still singing, even as her body catches on fire. Serious horror...
  • Let's Duet: Mariqueen and Trent share vocals on some songs, but she is still the band's primary voice.
  • Looped Lyrics: A literal example in a song called (fittingly enough) "The Loop Closes."
    The beginning/Is the end/And it/Keeps going/Around again... (repeat ad infinitum)
  • The Ophelia: Mariqueen's on-stage personna (floor-length white dress with angel sleeves, some mid-song temple dancer moments) evoke this trope.
  • Trying Not to Cry: During a New Jersey stop on their tour, Mariqueen attempted this while performing "The Ice Age." She was not successful.