Halo 19; With Teeth; the fourth LP from Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails.
Released to an enthusiastic fan base and a less than thrilled critical community on May 3rd, 2005, With Teeth is a bit of a departure for Nine Inch Nails. Reznor himself has said that his goal for With Teeth was to release a more "to the point" album, with "12 good punches to the face." The new album also attempts to sound a bit more organic than previous releases, with lots of long takes and a real drummer (Dave Grohl) for many songs.
That description came while the album was still known as bleed-through, and there are actually 13 tracks. As for "to the point"? I'm not sure if you can get to the point much faster than 1992s Broken, but With Teeth has definitely gotten away from the grand concept album style of The Downward Spiral and The Fragile.
1. All the Love in the World
2. You Know What You Are
3. The Collector
4. The Hand that Feeds
5. Love is not Enough
6. Every Day is Exactly the Same
7. With Teeth
9. Getting Smaller
11. The line Begins to Blur
12. Beside you in Time
13. Right Where it Belongs
Total Running Time: 56:05
Singles so far:
Halo 18: The Hand that Feeds
1. The Hand that Feeds
2. The Hand that Feeds (Straight Mix)
3. The Hand that Feeds (Dub Mix)
4. The Hand that Feeds (Video)
Halo 20: Only
1. Only (Video)
3. Love is not Enough (Live at Rehearsals)
With Teeth was available on regular CD, in a two disc special edition that contained the video for The Hand that Feeds, and several mixes of the album, including a 5.1 surround mix. Both of the singles and the album can be obtained on vinyl as well. (Score!) The vinyl version of the album contains on additional track, titled Home.
The live lineup for the With Teeth tour includes:
Trent Reznor; Vocals, guitar
Aaron North; Guitar
Allesandro Cortini; Keyboards
Twiggy Ramirez; Bass
Jerome Dillon was on drums, but after problems with a heart condition, he was temporarily replaced by Josh Freese. A permanent replacement was eventually found in Alex Carapetis.
The album starts out with a slow little percussion piece that eventually builds into something more like what you'd expect from Reznor, with an amazing piano breakdown at 3:12. It's actually rather reminiscent of Piggy. We also get a little self reference and classic NIN themes: "Watching all the insects move along," (Reptile) "no one's heard a single word I said/they don't sound so good outside my head," (I Do Not Want This) and "It looks as though the past is here to stay/I've become a million miles away." (Hurt)
I'm not going to individually review every single song here, but I will hit the highlights.
The Hand that Feeds is what this album needed more of. Reznor said that this was to be a more straightforward album, and when this single was released, I was hoping for a 13 track album full of that. What's there isn't bad, but it took me a few listens to get into. There are only three other straight up rock songs on the album, as I see them: You Know What you Are; Only, with that delicious disco beat; and Getting Smaller, which is fairly disposable, but sort of a nice take on Wish.
The Collector, Love is not Enough, Every Day is Exactly the Same, With Teeth, Sunspots, and The Line Begins to Blur, which make up the majority of the album, are all what I want to call "moody industrial" music, which is kind of odd, but good in its way. On a longer album, these could have been the sort of instrumental "filler" tracks that were used so brilliantly in The Fragile The Collector has a prepared piano from 2:30 on; Every Day is Exactly the Same is one of the few songs that uses overwhelming repetition to its advantage, making it anthemic rather than boring; With Teeth and Sunspots are just damn good songs.
The last two songs are sort of the odd ones out. Beside you in Time is almost one big pulse of noise. It starts out really light, but by the end you'll be in tears if you're the sort of person who is bothered by fast stereo sweeps and the like. It also brilliantly leads into the final track, the somber piano ballad Right Where it Belongs. It kind of feels like Trent is trying to come up with another Hurt, and it works, but not quite at the same level. It doesn't quite carry the same sort of weight as the classic Nine Inch Nails closer (not Closer). I could do without the crowd screaming, and yeah, it kind of sounds like he's writing about The Matrix, but it succeeds in bringing the themes from the rest of the album together.
While the newest Nine Inch Nails release is mostly enjoyable, it's got it's share of weaknesses. The easiest one to ignore is the the sometimes amateur-ish lyrics. "You better take a good look/'cause I'm full of shit," is a little. . . silly, really. Trent's albums have always featured lots of screaming and rhyming couplets, so I find this mostly overlookable. A more noticable problem is the repetition of chorus lines. Some of these songs aren't even four minutes long, but they have over a minute of one line being repeated. It works in a couple places, but it can become grating to hear after a while.
While it isn't the greatest album in the world, and certainly not the best Nine Inch Nails release, it's still plenty worth buying if you're a Nine Inch Nails fan -- just be prepared to give it a few listens before you dismiss it. Make sure to check it out if you'd like to hear what Pretty Hate Machine might have sounded like if it was released 16 years later. If you're just out looking for a kick-ass rock album, you may want to listen to a friend's copy first, or just pick up the single for The Hand that Feeds.
Amazon.com says that Grohl is featured on All the Love in the World and The Collector, but I'm not sure what other tracks he's on. Yet.