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CD review: How to Destroy Angels’ ‘Welcome Oblivion’

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The Details

How to Destroy Angels
Welcome Oblivion
Three stars

Trent Reznor’s recent announcement of the live return of Nine Inch Nails took a bit of the importance out of his latest project, How to Destroy Angels, which can now safely be designated a side project and not his main gig. Still, Reznor has been pretty focused on HTDA for the last few years, and the band’s debut album (following two EPs), Welcome Oblivion, stacks up well against NIN’s last few releases.

In addition to Reznor, the band features his wife, Mariqueen Maandig, on vocals, plus frequent Reznor collaborators Atticus Ross and Rob Sheridan. The songs on Welcome Oblivion are a little more subdued and atmospheric than the heavier industrial sound NIN is known for, with Maandig’s voice softer and more ethereal than Reznor’s typically aggressive vocals (which occasionally show up in the background). The sound is closest to the work Reznor did with Ross on the instrumental NIN album Ghosts I-IV and the soundtrack to The Social Network.

Sometimes that means it’s a little too diffuse and unfocused, and there’s nothing here as immediately memorable as NIN’s classic singles. But there are still plenty of well-crafted songs, including catchy lead single “How Long?” and the brittle, spooky “Ice Age.” This is a side project worth keeping around once Reznor heads back to his day job.

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