Album: Further Down the Spiral (V2)
Artist: Nine Inch Nails
Label: TVT/Interscope
Released: 1995
Summary: Gritty, screeching Nine Inch Nails that you can dance to.

The Downward Spiral was a phenomenal album of Dark Side of the Moon proportions. The problem with releasing such an amazing work was that there was very little that Nine Inch Nails could produce next that would avoid disappointment. With Further Down the Spiral, rather than create the next original album, they chose to release a whole album's worth of remixes from the last one, a rather rare concept that was also used by Pop Will Eat Itself in the same year.

This doesn't pretend to be like its predecessor; in a way, it actually sounds even louder, with fast breakbeats, throbbing sub-bass and plenty of loud clanging noises. There's one point where the music even stops for dramatic effect while a gritty noise is sped up and slowed down, then crashes its way back in again. This is what The Downward Spiral might sound like if it was a dance album remixed by Atari Teenage Riot (although the remixers actually include members of Coil and Nine Inch Nails themselves).

Further Down the Spiral seems more like an experiment than an album. It takes The Downward Spiral's depression and hate fuelled vocals, plus a handful of its guitar riffs, strips them from almost all of their original musical context and puts them amongst gritty, digitised noise, manic beats and industrial sounds. Everything sounds as if it has been compressed, distorted, reduced in resolution and sample frequency, dropped out of a tenth story window, dipped in acid and scratched with sandpaper. It is at once powerful enough to make it feel as if the screeching will cause permanent hearing damage, yet strangely compelling and even catchy in places.

At The Heart of It All was created entirely by Aphex Twin, which begs the question of what exactly it's doing on a Nine Inch Nails album. Then again, Aphex Twin always did seem to do his own thing and remixes never were his forte, so it's probably for the best that he included an original piece of music. It's dark, scary and would make the perfect compliment to H. R. Giger's artwork.

Curiously enough, Aphex Twin's contribution isn't the cut that sticks out the most. The Downward Spiral (The Bottom), after an amazingly depressing intro, launches into a surreal piece of music that sounds unlike anything you'd expect from Nine Inch Nails, the only recognisable artifact from the original song being the Mellotron riff. In my opinion, it would probably have been better off edited down to just the first minute and a half. Other than that, this album is pretty solid and consistent.

The reason I'm reviewing the UK version in particular is because it contains two very good dance tracks that aren't on the American release: Charlie Clouser's remixes of Heresy and Ruiner. In my opinion, these are easily worth sacrificing tracks like the short and rather pointless Eraser (Polite) and The Beauty of Being Numb, a good portion of which is merely another song played backwards.

There is very little else to compare this album to; its sound is vastly different from anything else I've heard. If it's an experiment in taking some existing music in a violent new direction, it sounds like it succeeded.

From Charlie Clouser's catchy tracks to the raw power of the Art of Self Destruction cuts, this is a rollercoaster of an album for anyone who likes music with screeching and clanging in it. While it's not as good as the album it's reconstituted from, it's an invigorating experience in its own right.