Genere: Industrial Metal, Alternative Rock
Similar Artists: Foetus, Pig, KMFDM
Recording Year: The Null Corporation, 2009.
TVT had a massive hit on their hands, and to ensure that Reznor would produce another one, they attempted to take control of the follow-up's creative direction. Enraged by the outside meddling, Reznor tried to secure a release from his contract, leading to a vicious court battle. His only recording outlets were side projects; in 1990, he co-wrote and sang on "Suck," a track on Pigface's debut album, Gub, and also sang on the Al Jourgensen-led 1000 Homo DJs cover of Black Sabbath's "Supernaut." (TVT ordered Reznor's vocals removed from the track, but Jourgensen actually just altered them slightly and said he'd re-recorded it.) Eventually, he was able to sign with Interscope, which helped him set up his own label, the Cleveland-based Nothing imprint. Reznor had been recording new material on the sly, and in 1992 Nothing released the EP Broken as well as a concurrent remix disc titled Fixed. Broken featured more (and heavier) guitars than Pretty Hate Machine, partly in response to NIN's live sound and partly as a sonic evocation of Reznor's boiling frustration in the wake of the legal wars; it also featured two bonus cuts, a version of "Suck" and the Adam Ant cover "(You're So) Physical," a nod to Reznor's new wave roots. Despite many reviews characterizing the EP as a harrowing, difficult listen, Broken -- supported by NIN's now-considerable fan base -- debuted in the Top Ten and the first single/video, "Wish," won a Grammy for Best Heavy Metal Performance. Reznor enhanced his reputation as a provocateur with a widely banned clip for "Happiness in Slavery," which depicted S&M performance artist Bob Flanagan being torn apart by a machine; there was also a long-form clip for Broken that was never released commercially due to its graphic content (a torture victim is dismembered while viewing NIN videos).
Reznor moved to Los Angeles to craft the second full-length NIN album, assembling a studio in the house where actress Sharon Tate was murdered by Charles Manson's associates. The Downward Spiral was a highly ambitious work, a concept album indebted to progressive rock that featured the most detailed, layered studio craft of any NIN release yet. Hugely anticipated, the album debuted at number two and became one of the bleakest multi-platinum albums ever. Richard Patrick had departed the touring band to form Filter, and Reznor revamped the group with drummer Vrenna, keyboardist Woolley, guitarist Robin Finck, and bassist Danny Lohner. NIN caused a sensation at that summer's 25th-anniversary Woodstock concert, performing a ferocious set after horsing around and covering themselves in mud just before hitting the stage. Meanwhile, MTV had put an edited version of the video for "Closer" in heavy rotation and NIN scored one of the year's unlikeliest hits: a song whose chorus began "I want to f*ck you like an animal," which helped make Reznor one of alternative rock's biggest sex symbols. The subdued ballad "Hurt" gained some further airplay, even though it lacked the titillating shock value of "Closer." Later in the year, Reznor assembled the soundtrack of Oliver Stone's controversial Natural Born Killers, editing the songs together to create an innovative collage; he also guested on "Past the Mission," a track on Tori Amos' second album, Under the Pink. In 1995, with new keyboardist Charlie Clouser, Nine Inch Nails hit the road with David Bowie, whose late-'70s albums (along with Pink Floyd) had been a major influence on The Downward Spiral. He also contributed a cover of Joy Division's "Dead Souls" to the soundtrack of The Crow and issued the remix album Further Down the Spiral, which nearly reached the Top 20 (a testament to his popularity).
Fields Of Haze.