Rock Albums:

The Downward Spiral



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5 stars"

Best album ever recorded. Ever.

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Nine Inch Nails: Trent Reznor (vocals, various instruments).

Additional personnel: Danny Lohner, Adrian Belew (guitar); Flood (synthesizer, programming); Andy Kubiszewski, Chris Vrenna, Stephen Perkins (drums).

Engineers: Sean Beavan, Chris Vrenna, Alan Moulder.

Recorded at Le Pig, Beverly Hills, California; The Record Plant A&M Studios, Los Angeles, California.

THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL was nominated for a 1995 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Performance.

"Hurt" was nominated for a 1996 Grammy Award for Best Rock Song.

Personnel: Andy Kubiszewski (drums).

Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor became an instant alternative-music hero with 1989's PRETTY HATE MACHINE, an angry-yet-accessible album that appealed to rock fans and club kids alike. Record-label woes led to a five-year delay for Reznor's follow-up, with two hard-edged EPs (BROKEN and its remix disc, FIXED) issued in the interim. Finally released in 1994, THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL seethes with an almost unhinged industrial ferocity, due, in part to both Reznor's frustration with messy bureaucratic entanglements and time spent with Ministry's Al Jourgensen during the peak of that band's guitar-heavy phase.

Although, SPIRAL does reveal the influence of latter-day Ministry (particularly on the blazing opener, "Mr. Self Destruct," and the scathing, distortion-filled "March of the Pigs"), Reznor also incorporates elements of progressive rock and funk into the proceedings. More than any other Nine Inch Nails song, the provocative, groove-laden "Closer" (and its shocking video) established Reznor as a bold, audacious artist. In contrast, quiet and emotive songs such as Eno-esque instrumental "A Warm Place" and the spare, haunting "Hurt" (famously covered by Johnny Cash shortly before the country legend's death) revealed Reznor's sensitive side. Here the intense performer works with his largest sonic palette yet, and the results are fascinating.

What the critics say...

Rolling Stone (5/13/99, p.54) - Included in Rolling Stone's "Essential Recordings of the 90's."
Rolling Stone (3/24/94, p.92) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...Nine Inch Nails achieve a new kind of loud on THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL: accessible hard rock moves overlaid with a scrim of electronic racket...THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL is music the Blade Runner might throw down to: low-tech futurism that rocks...."
Spin (9/99, p.124) - Ranked #11 in Spin Magazine's "90 Greatest Albums of the '90s."
Spin (12/94, p.76) - Rankded #4 in Spin's list of the `20 Best Albums Of '94' - "...transfixes you with the heaviest metal, the most trance-inducing rave, and the silliest synth-pop you're ever likely to hear in songs this hummable..."
Q (7/01, p.90) - Included in Q's "50 Heaviest Albums of All Time".
Q (12/99, p.171) - Included in Q Magazine's Best Gothic Albums Of All Time - "...the migraine masterpiece that catapulted [Reznor] to #2 in the Billboard's a day at the dentist's: all screeching and pulsing, but sexy with it..."
Alternative Press (7/95, p.82) - Ranked #24 in AP's list of the `Top 99 Of '85-'95' - "...This recording, coming some five years after Reznor's full-length debut, [is] a stark expose of the darkest regions of the soul: those places where our personal demons reign, and God feels unwelcome..."
Vibe (12/99, p.158) - Included in Vibe's 100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century
Musician (5/94, p.72) - "...beneath all that bad attitude and aural aggro lies music of extraordinary insight, intelligence, and, yes, beauty....An astonishing piece of work...."
Village Voice (3/94, p.5) - Ranked #2 in the Village Voice's 1993 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll.
Village Voice (2/28/95) - Ranked #9 in the Village Voice's 1994 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll.
Kerrang (Magazine) (p.53) - "Displaying breathtaking invention and variety, it's a deeply textured work..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.54) - Ranked #98 in Mojo's "100 Modern Classics" -- "More than a celebration of nihilism,...SPIRAL was an anguished cry for something to believe in."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.117) - 4 stars out of 5 - "Reznor's industrial-blues masterpiece still drips with vileness."
New York Times (Publisher) (1/5/95, p.C15) - Included on Jon Pareles' list of the Top 10 Albums Of '94 - "Trent Reznor orchestrates the terrors of adolescence...with creepy-crawly sounds and a clandestine sense of melody."

Track Listing:

Disc 1:
  1. Mr. Self Destruct
  2. Piggy
  3. Heresy
  4. March Of The Pigs
  5. Closer
  6. Ruiner
  7. Becoming, The
  8. I Do Not Want This
  9. Big Man With A Gun
  10. Warm Place, A
  11. Eraser
  12. Reptile
  13. Downward Spiral, The
  14. Hurt
Release date Australia
March 8th, 1994
Album Length (Minutes)
Interscope Records (USA)
Number of Discs
Box Dimensions (mm)
Product ID

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