Nine Inch Nails – Bad Witch EP (2018)

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have returned with the third and final EP of their two year EP project, and it was well worth the wait! Hot of the heels of Not the Actual Events and Add Violence, I can see why going the EP route was preferred this time around. When artists usually create music we get an album every half-decade or so, and it very well could be full of filler that you don’t like just so it can fill a 12-16 track threshold. With EPs we get small themes that don’t overstay their welcome and allow artists to produce more music more often. being a big metal fan, I’m used to this release method, but seeing more “big-name” artists do it is surprising.

Today we will be looking at Bad Witch, the new Nine Inch Nails EP that packs about a half hour of awesomeness into your ears.

The track listing is as follows

1. “Shit Mirror” 3:06
2. “Ahead of Ourselves” 3:30
3. “Play the Goddamned Part” 4:51
4. “God Break Down the Door” 4:14
5. “I’m Not from This World” 6:41
6. “Over and Out” 7:49

One of the surprises for me are some songs echoing back to older eras in Trent’s back catalog. For example, Ahead of Ourselves and Play the Goddamned Part sound vaguely like something that could have been on The Fragile. Shit Mirror, even sounds vaguely similar to another Fragile song Starfuckers Inc. while the tail end of I’m not from this world creeps back into Downward Spiral territory. But this isn’t a case of ACDCism, where a band makes every album sound the same, these homages to the past are just superficial, sort of like when a theme song pops up in the background of a movie when the action is really getting good and the viewer is like “oh hey Captain America’s about to show up.”

The main difference with this album versus the previous two is that there is a subtle jazz vibe to the whole thing. Saxophones play a big part in most of the songs and help achieve this unsettling tone that seems like the soundscape from a dingy nightclub in an 80’s police show. One thing I’ve enjoyed about this EP trilogy is the return of the aggression that made me enjoy NIN in the first place – and yes that is still there in this third release.

While this release didn’t come with a physical ARG component (one full of black powder that initially scared me) Trent has made allusions on the website to rethinking physical media making the vinyl or the person listening to the album the physical component this time around. This is an interesting change considering Reznor was on the bleeding edge of online distribution, even employing a “pay whatever you want” model for one of his albums. This in no way detracts from the album because a gimmick is a gimmick, and what I care about most is the music itself.

In these times of nearly unlimited access to all the music in the world, we’ve come to appreciate the value and beauty of the physical object. Our store’s focus is on presenting these items to you. Vinyl has returned to being a priority for us – not just for the warmth of the sound, but the interaction it demands from the listener. The canvas of artwork, the weight of the record, the smell of the vinyl, the dropping of the needle, the difficulty of skipping tracks, the changing of sides, the secrets hidden within, and having a physical object that exists in the real world with you… all part of the experience and magic.

Digital formats and streaming are great and certainly convenient, but the ideal way i’d hope a listener experience my music is to grab a great set of headphones, sit with the vinyl, drop the needle, hold the jacket in your hands looking at the artwork (with your fucking phone turned off) and go on a journey with me.

— Trent Reznor

All-in-all this is probably the best EP in the trilogy and is a must-have for nay Nine Inch Nails fan.

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