02 May 2007

"Does Trent really have a nine-inch nail, Tori?"

Nine Inch Nails: Year Zero Tori Amos: American Doll Posse

Depending on how you look at it, Year Zero is either a great beginning or a great end for Nine Inch Nails. Since Trent Reznor's first album Pretty Hate Machine debuted in 1989, his forerunning sound of progressive industrial rock (d)evolved into a story playing out like man vs. machine. The NIN wiki already has a detailed list and storyline of this.

His friendships and personal history are almost as well-documented as the progression of his music itself. He single-handedly launched a huge movement in popularizing industrial and bringing it out of the shadows, giving rise to artists like Ministry and KMFDM. A one-time friendship with Marilyn Manson that ended badly after Manson became popular had Reznor talking openly about his battle with both depression and anti-depressants.

His friendship with Tori Amos has had a lasting impact on both musicians. While she's name dropped him in her lyrics ("With your Nine Inch Nails and little fascist panties", "Made my own Pretty Hate Machine") and collaborated with him on "Past The Mission," he's borrowed her lyrics ("Starfuckers, Inc.,") and now again their albums seem to be reaching toward a parallel.

Tori Amos' ninth studio album, American Doll Posse, released yesterday, shares many sentiments, at least musically. Both albums have a heavy focus on the intersection of Christianity, the current state of the US, the ubiquity of suburbia, the angst of suffering through a political administration gone awry. Even the album art is a mirror between the two albums: grim, dark photography of subjects with a Bible in their right hand and bloodshed on the left.

But the similarities continue sonically and thematically. The first track, "Yo George" is a veiled metaphor of President Bush as "mad" King George. "Code Red," with its heavy, pulsing minor chords, wailing electric guitar and plodding beat sounds like they could have been mastered by Reznor.

Even the publicity surrounding both albums' releases echoes a sort of disaffected schitzophrenia. While Reznor fans put together vague clues from T-shirts, cell phones, USB drives and Web sites, Tori's five "girls" took on individual personalities and spread themselves across the web, taking up cryptic blogs on Myspace, Livejournal and other networking sites. The reception we're getting is that there's very little to smile about.

So, what's the point? Is this just a gloomy doomsday message told from a male and female point of view? Hardly. Despite their similarities, there were no overt collaborations between the two artists for these albums. While Reznor seems pleased with relishing the, ahem, Downward Spiral of our state of affairs, Tori's album shows hope and light.

With renewed focus on her craft after 2005's awful release The Beekeeper, ADP in comparison take a strong affinity to Southern Rock with guitar-backed dittys and somewhat challenging lyrics ("M-I-L-F Don't you forget!"). ADP borrows much more heavily from 2002's gorgeous Scarlet's Walk and even has tracks reminiscent of 1996's Boys for Pele.

Nine Inch Nails - The Good Soldier.mp3
Nine Inch Nails - The Greater Good.mp3
Tori Amos - Code Red.mp3
Tori Amos - Yo George.mp3
Tori Amos - Big Wheel.mp3

Buy Year Zero and American Doll Posse

1 comment:

Nymeth said...

"ADP borrows much more heavily from 2002's gorgeous Scarlet's Walk and even has tracks reminiscent of 1996's Boys for Pele."

You're the second person I see comparing it to Scarlet's Walk today. That makes me happy. I wouldn't got as far as calling The Beekeeper awful, but it's good to know this one's better. I need to pick it up soon.