Hard Reviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Nine Inch Nails - The Fragile

Of course, in the grand tradition of his cultural jockeymates GN'R, he had to make a double album. But unlike Axl and his Rods, this was to be no steady golden stream of nasty radio hits, The Fragile being one long, often mundane slog through butt-ugly versions of Trent's four or five edgy, psychotic trademark maneuvers. Lyrically, the man is frustratingly sparse, disturbing for five years ago, just sort of whining for a rich man sparkling in partytown at Y2K. But there's a certain bravery to the music, an intriguing mix between industrial and analogue, which in total forms a browned-out exhausted journey you suspect will take a little chip out of your optimism you won't notice missing for years (lead track Somewhat Damaged is a smothering duncecap). Kudos also for not rocking out, the spare moments acting as high relief when they do arrive, reminding us why we grudgingly give Filter the time of day. Of course, the lighter-flicking Diamond Dave fan in me (which is most of me) wants those churning power chords, although without the distorted screams, thanks. But I guess I can be mildly (very mildly) amused with what he's done, which is a glossy but ironically intimate and very lonely cross between inaccessible Eno, Berlin Bowie and stripped lyrics I would expect from Layne Staley, or worse, Creed.
Rating 7

My Dying Bride - The Light At The End Of The World

Don't know why everybody thinks the last one was so much of a departure, but there you have it. Stupid title with a few quirky keyboards and everybody's up in arms. But the deep grey wallow never left, and on The Light At The End Of The World (cool title, cool cover art), the band is bitingly more metallic, deliberately aiming at their old sound, while (thankfully) ending up fairly accessible, lots of doom melodies, thick ribbons of double lead, a little death vocal (doesn't sound very convincing though), otherwise Aaron sprawling right up front with his usual sonic seep on these multi-hued tracks. Crowning moment comes early: 2:10 into lead track She Is The Dark, the band crash into a majestic metal vision that is one of the year's highlights. Basically, you can hear the trudging chains, chugging guitars shackling every track, lending a continuous churn to the record, smothering the listener in damp despair. Indeed, one envisions the end of the world, this record sounding like the result of binding friction, oiled only with the hope of all those moaning twin leads that must have lodged during the band's celebrated tour with Maiden. Kind of a pure My Dying Bride record, only surprise perhaps being that there are no surprises.
Rating 8.5

Hard Reviews Page 3