Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the release of what is said to be “one of the most upsetting, misunderstood, and enduring album of the ’90s.”
This is by far one of my all-time favourite albums. I’m a sucker for concept albums; they’re cohesive, smart, and take you on a journey that makes the listening experience much more engaging and memorable. Each song of The Downward Spiral can really only be fully understood within the rest of the album. Without the other songs, each song is incomplete.
The tracks of the dark and unsettling concept album take us through the twisted steps of the destruction of a man. The plot follows his descent into his own inner world where he eventually meets his demise. The album opens with “Mr. Self Destruct”, which sets the tone for the rest of it and foreshadows the conclusion while serving as an introduction. The rest of the album takes us through the man — some say a serving as a reflection of Trent Reznor himself — dealing with religion, dehumanization, violence, disease, society, drugs, sex, and leading up to suicide. The last one is represented in the final track of The Downward Spiral, “Hurt”: the famously bone-chilling, disturbing song that was covered by none other than Johnny Cash himself. A lot of people don’t realize that the song was originally the conclusion to Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral.
This is one of the smartest, twisted, and most haunting albums I’ve ever listened to. It’s one of those albums that, in order to fully appreciate it, you have to close the blinds, take the phones off the hook (kind of an outdated saying, maybe just turn your cell on silent) and listen to it — all the songs, back to back. It’s by far Trent Reznor’s most mature album to date, and it’s crazy to think that it’s been twenty years since its release in 1994. It’s brilliant. Plain and simple. Happy birthday, The Downward Spiral!
Have you guys listened to it? What do you think? What are some of your favourite albums?
All Images Courtesy of Google Images.