Artist: Nine Inch Nails
Label: Nothing Records (TVT/Interscope)
Summary: Harsh and abrasive antidote to Pretty Hate Machine.
To me, Broken feels like the true birth of Nine Inch Nails, after
the false start of Pretty Hate Machine. This is where Trent Reznor
introduces the remaining pieces of his style, such as beautifully
grotesque sound collages, well sequenced samples of rock instruments,
sudden endings, and atmospheric crescendos. (It also includes a
trick that would later become one of Marilyn Manson's hallmarks:
playing a loud snare drum on all the downbeats of a chorus.) Combined
with his already established technique of juxtaposing quiet verses
with loud choruses, his unique style is now finally complete.
Trent Reznor understandably overcompensates for the restrained nature
of Pretty Hate Machine - in places, Broken is only slightly more
rhythmic and melodic than bursts of noise. It also sounds a little
rough around the edges, as he enthusiastically embraces his new style
before he's had a chance to get comfortable writing in it.
If you want to hear only the very best of Nine Inch Nails's releases,
you should probably skip this EP and go straight to the masterpiece
that is Trent Reznor's magnum opus, The Downward Spiral. If, however,
you want to hear the raw template of the aesthetic that would later
be put to outstanding use in his more developed later work, then
this is it: Broken is the intense sound of the angry; the rejected;
the reluctant ex-Christian; someone trapped in Hell itself.