Bad Witch CAROLINE Trent Reznor com­pletes his tril­ogy in ter­ri­fy­ing fash­ion

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Hammer Contents - LUKE MOR­TON

Nine Inch Nails, Daron Malakian And Scars on Broad­way, Halestorm, Pow­er­wolf, Sin­saenum, epica, Skele­ton­witch, Black Fast, Mag­got Heart and more get flexed on the Ham­mer decks.

And so, we en­ter the third act: the fi­nal piece in Nine Inch Nails’ cryptic puz­zle of dark­ness and loathing. Pre­ceded by 2016’s Not The Ac­tual Events and 2017’s Add Vi­o­lence EPs, Bad Witch has been deemed an al­bum by Trent Reznor him­self, de­spite it con­sist­ing only of six tracks. But over its 30 min­utes Trent’s vi­sion is re­alised: an in­tense, mind-warp­ing endgame for his tril­ogy that re­fuses to fit any shape or mould.

It’s mu­sic in its rawest form, an ex­pres­sion from deep within, with­out any care for con­ven­tion or crowd-pleas­ing – and it is ex­cel­lent.

The open­ing, fuzzy, dis­tor­tion-heavy Shit Mir­ror sets the tone for the record. It em­braces the min­i­mal­is­tic side of in­dus­trial and elec­tronic mu­sic, ma­noeu­ver­ing a sim­ple beat into new, un­recog­nis­able po­si­tions, backed by claps and whirrs. It’s oddly sooth­ing and sub­dued, wel­com­ing you into a trance-like state of noise nir­vana, be­fore Trent sends all senses fly­ing, fid­dling with the pan­ning to dis­ori­en­tate and mud­dle your mind, like the mu­sic is play­ing from the back of your skull. This isn’t so much a song as a proof of con­cept for what is pos­si­ble if you dare to step out­side of the box and embrace ev­ery­thing at your dis­posal.

Work­ing with his long-time writ­ing part­ner At­ti­cus Ross, Trent pours vast amounts of fury and ten­sion into the al­bum like thick, black tar, and yet it never feels mo­rose or down­beat.

The swag­ger­ing breaks of Ahead Of Our­selves ooze cool­ness and the bub­bling, lava lamp electronics of lead sin­gle God Break Down The Door would fit right in at any in­dus­trial/goth night, com­plete with Trent’s smooth-as-silk croon of ‘Re­move the pain or push it back in’.

Of course, all of this ‘ac­ces­si­ble’ mu­sic is jux­ta­posed by the sud­den, jar­ring drops into heav­i­ness and dis­tor­tion, even in­cor­po­rat­ing a gui­tar, de­spite Trent pre­vi­ously vow­ing to never pick one up again.

Per­haps the most abrupt and de­tached sec­tion of Bad Witch comes in the form of Play The God­damned Part, a ‘song’ you won’t be adding to any party playlists. What be­gins with the sound of a build­ing fall­ing over on an old Mega Drive game is off­set by the creep­ing, omi­nous brass sec­tion, en­ter­ing the fray like the mops in Fan­ta­sia, cre­at­ing a dis­cor­dant, freeform jazz jam amidst clash­ing electronics. It’s anti-mu­sic, but your brain is so fix­ated on what the hell is com­ing next from this mad sci­en­tist of sound that you can’t turn it off, no mat­ter how loudly your neigh­bours protest. A blur of clicks, ticks and a what sounds like de­ranged ice cream van send you tum­bling down a rabbit hole so bizarre Alice would crap her­self upon en­try.

The fi­nal two tracks re­sem­ble film scores more than any­thing ap­proach­ing a hit sin­gle. Hov­er­ing around the seven-minute mark, I’m Not From This World is a re­ver­ber­at­ing heavy, rum­bling drive into dark­ness, so dron­ing and hyp­notic you’ll wel­come the abyss with open arms. Yet it’s the grand fi­nale that ex­plores all flavours of electronics. Over And Out could have eas­ily de­scended into ag­grotech twin­kles with a know­ing wink, but in­stead builds into a ca­coph­ony of white noise, as Trent sings

‘I’ve al­ways been 10 years ahead of you’.

Who? We do not know, but it’s hard to ar­gue he’s not talk­ing to ev­ery sin­gle mu­si­cian on Earth.


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