Nine Inch Nails - With Teeth
Nothing/Interscope Records
Disco-influenced Industrial Rock
13 songs (56:02)
Release year: 2005
Nine Inch Nails
Reviewed by Aaron
Major event

Well, another half-decade or so, another Nine Inch Nails album. Glad to see that Trent Reznor is keeping to his extremely strenuous release schedule.

Of course, considering that his last disc was the gargantuan double-disc epic work of genius The Fragile, I think we can give him a few years to recuperate and write a new opus, y’think? And… what do you know, many complain that he disappoints a little. Well, you know what? It’s pretty much what I expected.

Think about it. He poured onto the market a declaration of rage and hatred and sorrow in The Fragile, didn’t compromise a word of it, and the mainstream pretty much flipped him the bird for trying to challenge them. Sales figures for that album were absolutely dismal, comparatively speaking, and the pressure was upon him to deliver something that his older fans, the ones that stuck with The Fragile until it clicked with them, would like. Something that these fellows that abandoned him after The Fragile because it wasn’t as immediate or hooky as The Downward Spiral could load to their iPods. Something that would grab the fellows out there currently listening to The Killers and other such crap.

To be honest, With Teeth is all of those things. Not only can it be listened to as a series of unrelated songs, but it sounds damned good as an inter-connecting album, with varied and interesting compositions, layered and rife with depth for those who will search for it.

The opening song is a strange number by the name of All the Love in the World, and this really doesn’t sound like much he’s ever done before. It’s much more subdued than most of his stuff, more meandering, pondering and thoughtful. The bass line dominates in the mix, and it actually sounds strangely hip-hopish here, the way it’s used. Not a bad thing, luckily. He sings softly along to the passively played drumbeat, and eventually it evolves into a full-on clubby dance number that will probably be a big hit if he releases it as a single. Not quite as catchy as Closer, but he’s trying to recapture those magical moments, and trying hard.

You Know What You Are? is pretty much the exact opposite of the last song. While the lyrics and chorus are kind of idiotic, the guitar riff and rollicking drumbeat more than make up for it. Just as intense as Heresy off of The Downward Spiral, and may I say, the riff reminds me of We’re In This Together. I like this song, but in an ‘I’ve heard this before, but this is good anyway’ sort of way.

The Collector features lyrics so bad that they’re actually the height of hilarity. The song itself would be an early low point if it weren’t for the densely layered sounds and powerful riff that drive the song. The drumbeat is pretty much perfectly played- for this we must thank Dave Grohl who, oddly enough, played faster on You Know What You Are? then he ever did on his Probot side-project. Someone should complain about that.

You’ve probably heard The Hand That Feeds already, so you also know how good it is- it’s one of the high points of the album. The riff is intense and aggressive, the drumming is plain and simple but effective, and the overall beat is extremely danceable. Sure, the lyrics pretty much are an inferior version of Fear Factory’s Bite The Hand That Bleeds… but really, who cares? I love this song.

Love Is Not Enough is really kind of forgettable, as the first low point of the album. Sure, there’s a lot going on all at once, but it doesn’t flow together as well here as it does in places like the next song, so why don’t you skip to that?

Every Day is Exactly the Same is probably slated to be the next single, and for a reason: it’s very, very good. Reminds me of the better tracks that Depeche Mode put out done-nineties-goth-style. Probably some of his best lyrics so far, and a beautiful set of piano notes leading into the chorus. I must say, this one is ludicrously catchy, almost obnoxiously. Be forewarned of that.

With Teeth attempts to achieve a mood of pondering melancholy similar to that of All the Love in the World, and comes up short. It’s almost like a soundscape as opposed to an actual song, but an unsuccessful soundscape. The chorus is a nod to Mark E. Smith and The Fall, before anyone asks.

Only was the second single. Strange choice. It showcases a lot of the odder elements of this album in the weird spoken word parts and off-the-wall sonic layering, but it’s got a catchy chorus, a riff in the same mold as Into the Void (not the Black Sabbath song, silly), and an awesomely danceable drumbeat. It’ll be another club hit if it isn’t already, mark my words.

Getting Smaller is a weird cut. It starts out with an intro that reminds me of thrash in a strange offhand way, but then cuts into Trent’s ‘I’m about to scream really loud’ voice over the rapid drums and acoustic guitar just noodling away in the background before the chorus starts and it just bursts into this really odd guitar riff that drives the chorus with an under-verse riff sort of cutting off the whole chorus at its knees. I don’t really know about this song, I can’t decide whether I like it or not, so I’ll err on the side of caution and say I don’t like it that much.

Sunspots sounds a helluva lot like Closer. It’s not particularly a bad thing, but it makes the song very predictable. You can pretty much guess when the loud guitar riffs will cut in, how they’ll sound, etc. However, Sunspots is still a favorite of mine for Trent’s varied delivery. He yells with an echo effect, whispers, even tries out a somewhat faltering falsetto, and that really makes the song.

The Line Begins to Blur is a ballad. It bores me, and there’s this weird effect he uses that really hurts my ears for whatever reason. I don’t know why this went on the album, it sounds like a strangely unaccomplished b-side from Pretty Hate Machine as opposed to fitting in with the rest of the album. You can skip to the next, if you want.

You should skip Beside You in Time as well. The whole thing is really, really, really painfully boring. For a sort of off-the-wall comparison, think of what Dig It, the Skinny Puppy song, would have sounded like if there were no effects backing up the rhythmic beats and the sparse background was really grating on your nerves. Monotonous as hell.

The whole enchilada closes with Right Where It Belongs, another sullen ballad in the vein of legendary album-closer Hurt, but not quite as good. It features the best lyrics this side of Every Day is Exactly the Same, and I’m really digging the effects he used here. The crowd noise just fits in really well with the sparse piano melodies and strange industrial sounds. His voice is pretty good too- emotive on the scale of The Day the World Went Away.

Well, that concludes With Teeth. It was good. Not brilliant, but good. Quite good, as a matter of fact. With more work and less filler, it could have been nearly as good as The Downward Spiral. Now, it stands as Trent’s most varied work apart from The Fragile, and certainly a triumph, of sorts.

Might I also note, it took eleven listens for me to arrive to this conclusion, so approach this album with just as much patience as you approached The Fragile with.

Killing Songs :
All the Love in the World, You Know What You Are?, The Hand That Feeds, Every Day is Exactly the Same, Only, Sunspots, Right Where it Belongs
Aaron quoted 76 / 100
Daniel quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by Nine Inch Nails that we have reviewed:
Nine Inch Nails - The Slip reviewed by Goat and quoted 77 / 100
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