The point I’m trying to make is that for everything that’s good in the world, it’ll have an opposite, and that sometimes three isn’t necessarily always the magic number (Even one in some cases), and to explore this further today we’ll be looking at NINE INCH NAILS and the new mini-album “Bad Witch”. Front man Trent Reznor initially started messing around with some ideas back in 2016 which later became the EP “Not The Actual Events”, which was a decent extended play that followed “Hesitation Marks” really quite well thematically as a stand-alone slab of bonus NIN…but he went on to reveal it was to be the first of trilogy. This was soon followed up by 2017’s “Add Violence” which despite starting strong, soon found itself going further down the electro-prog rabbit hole, before we wound up in there here and now. All that’s left to find out now is, on a scale of one to ten (One being Sabrina and ten being Gruntilda) how bad IS the witch?
We open up positively, and more importantly promisingly, with “Shit Mirror” and we’re instantly met with the gritty, grainy, riff-heavy bitterness that we’ve come to love from Reznor; his tortured vocals iconic as ever, while the clap-along percussion provides an up-beat tempo, yet it also harbours an almost QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE type bluesy, stoner rock vibe, subtly layered within…until a brief pause, before the track ends irritatingly on a loop, ultimately spoiling all initial momentum. “Ahead Of Ourselves” opts for a more pulsing, droning, drum ‘n’ bass approach…before slowly ascending into an almost, aggrotech barrage…combining Reznor’s penchant for the industrial with more jungle elements, before the instrumental “Play The Goddamned Part” takes us on a journey of disorientating, progressive jazz-infused electronica…the psychedelic jam-session rich in distortion and the use of brass is on the verge of haunting as it relentlessly pierces your ears.
This continues with “God Break Down The Door” and while it retains certain drum ‘n’ bass elements it also contains certain qualities found in DAVID BOWIE’s “Blackstar”…albeit more up-tempo. The tone, the vibe, the almost trance-like nature of its delivery, backed up with those soft jazz influences, it almost finds itself bridging the two all the while remaining entirely separate concepts and entities. “I’m Not From This World” is another instrumental that works on the gradual build; appropriately sounding much like a score from a sci-fi movie, you could easily imagine being stalked along the decks of a space station to this before getting brutally skull-fucked by an alien…before closing track “Over And Out” brings us back down to Earth with its long, drawn-out, sweeping dreamscapes. So how bad is this witch? Upon first listen, it’s an uncomfortable and frustrating wall of noise and ideas mangled into a 30 minute record, and although repeat listens do draw out its nuances, this is more of an art-rock piece that needs your undivided attention, as oppose to an album with choice cuts. On that scale of 1 to 10, I wouldn’t go as far as Gruntilda, but I certainly wouldn’t need to think twice about dropping a house on this son of a witch and stealing her ruby slippers…