Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts V-VI – Album Review
by Killian Laher
If ever there was a man to soundtrack a dystopia, it’s Trent Reznor. Nine Inch Nails have just surprise-released Ghosts V & VI, follow ups of sorts to 2008’s Ghosts I-IV, and have made it available for download free of charge. Where the previous Ghost material felt like unfinished sketches, these pieces are far more fleshed out. It’s clear that Reznor and writing partner Atticus Ross have honed their skills over the last 12 years through being among the foremost composers for creepy film music.
Ghosts V: Together is largely percussion-less, cold, synth-based music. It maps out the sound of alienation and neurosis perfectly. The titles capture this mood: Together, Out In The Open, Apart. Opener Letting Go While Holding On draws us slowly into a spooked-out world, followed up by Together, which is a kind of centrepiece, introduced by a lonely-sounding piano. It’s very eerie, a little like the Reznor and Atticus Ross soundtrack to Gone Girl, the piano and keyboards are like chilling blasts of ice through your veins. It feels very much like a continuous piece, a sombre, despairing one. With Faith punctuates hums of keyboards with what sounds like creepy wordless vocals. Apart takes the piano theme from Together and twists it, making it darker and more foreboding. It gets harsher towards the end. Hope We Can Again boasts migraine inducing sounds, while Still Right Here sees the introduction of guitars before bursting into paranoid, pulsing electronica.
Ghosts VI: Locusts ramps up the tension. The Cursed Clock features a repeating one note piano motif along with high-pitched drones. Around Every Corner instils a sense of dread in keeping with its title with creepy piano accompanied by horns, the same distressed horns that follow into The Worriment Waltz, distorted noise rising gradually midway through. Run Like Hell builds from moody jazz to scary drumming, leading into the panic-inducing alarm clock style When It Happens. There’s a return to calm with Another Crashed Car, but it’s brief. Trust Fades has a soaring piano, almost like a mini soundtrack to a mystery drama. On the other hand Just Breathe, Right Behind You and So Tired consist of dank, doomy piano and little else.
The two albums are very long, and a lot to take in. They are closer in feel and mood to their soundtrack work than to standard Nine Inch Nails, and light years away from the balls-out stoppers like Head Like A Hole, Closer etc. You may be as well off to avoid this if you’re looking to escape the bleak world of 2020. But if you’re looking for a soundtrack to capture the general atmosphere, it’s hard to imagine you’d do better than this. It can be downloaded from https://www.nin.com