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Nine Inch Nails - The Fragile CD (album) cover

THE FRAGILE

Nine Inch Nails

 

Crossover Prog

3.82 | 106 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TCat
Prog Reviewer
4 stars This excellent album is an example of what happens when "less is more" but you get more anyway. The sum of this album is less than it's parts. Why is this the case? Well, look at the fact that the album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200. It had been several years since the release of "The Downward Spiral" and fans were anticipating the next album from NIN. That explains the reason for the sales at the beginning. But in the 2nd week of it's release, it fell to number 16 and set a record of being the biggest drop from #1. I think that is because the fans went out and bought the album and would have bought it at almost any price, but it proved to be too costly for the masses who didn't want to pay for a double album. It was too much all at once. It probably would have done better if it was released in 2 parts. The other problem with this being a double album is the music is dark and dense, as you would expect from a follow up to "The Downward Spiral" and it is difficult, especially one the first several listens, to take it all in one big dose. As great as the music is, it is hard to sit through it all in one sitting.

However, many fans have accepted it as the best album by NIN. As for myself, I find the songs more developed and adventurous. But I can't give it masterpiece status because it is an album released with 2 discs as a whole, which normally isn't a problem if it doesn't wear itself out. But the problem here, by the time you get to the 2nd disc, you lose interest, even though the music is still top notch. Take "The Wall". It is easy to sit through both discs because of the variation in the tracks. In NIN music, there is just too much repetitiveness to stay interesting through 2 discs. If you listen to them separately, they are much better and you will end up discovering the 2nd disc is actually better than the first.

There is some variety among the tracks though. I believe that the songs are slightly better individually than "The Downward Spiral" because there is a lot more variation and experimentation throughout. There are several instrumentals and atmospheric/moody passages that break up the noise, and the songs are slightly more progressive than before. You also get several tracks with Adrian Belew (from King Crimson as if you didn't know) participating. All of these things should add up to a better whole right? Well, it doesn't because it is too hard to sit through it all. So listen to it separately, it's much better. Trent even said that he should have released it in 2 parts. It is, after all, a personal record for him in that it reflects the moods and difficulties he was going through at the time. Where "The Downward Spiral" was a concept album about a fictional character, this album was a concept album about his own feelings.

There is still a lot of noise and industrial sound to this one and a lot of people might not even notice a big difference in the sound. Granted, it is hard to hear at first. But you will notice the more frequent change in dynamics, moods and sound the more you listen. Trent tried to downplay the album before the release saying that this album would sound like nothing else done by NIN but more like the most ridiculous music you've ever heard with nursery rhymes over the top of it. Of course, it's nothing like that, it is very NIN typical sounding but with a lot more atmosphere. Still an excellent album, but the whole album can't be considered a masterpiece because of the loss of interest one feels when listened to completely. Yes that is a big enough deal to me to take it from the masterpiece status that I awarded to TDS. Still an excellent addition to your collection. 4 stars.

TCat | 4/5 |

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