Is there something in the water? There’s certainly something in the rusty tubes of the internet. Just days after QOTSA release ‘…Like Clockwork’, another US rock colossus lurches back into life in a surprise new track, after a substantial period away.
Today, Trent Reznor made good on the promise of the return of Nine Inch Nails with the announcement of new album ‘Hesitation Marks’ and the debut of new track ‘Came Back Haunted’. Exciting isn’t it?
Where Josh Homme has made no secret about the tumultuous times and health scares that kept his band away for so long, Reznor has barely actually stopped working. In the time since NIN went away he’s won an Oscars and Golden Globes for The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo soundtracks and formed How To Destroy Angels with his wife. But the menacing industrial chug of ‘Came Back Haunted’ speaks of trauma nonetheless:
"I saw some things on the other side / they made me promise to never tell / but you know me I can’t help myself / Now I got something you have to see / they put something inside of me / they put something inside of me / The smile is red and its eyes are black / I don’t think I’ll be coming back.”
It’s also true that none of Reznor’s recent activities have sailed too far from his blueprint. But this dazzling new cut still sounds like all your favourite bits of Nine Inch Nails, as a bleeping digital refrain steadily thrusts into a post-apocalyptic stealth rocket, firing off new pistons and revving up fearsome buzzsaws as it does, before trademark guitars reminiscent of classic ‘Head Like A Hole’ era kick in around the halfway mark.
It all points to a return to source for NIN. The last thing they did that sounded this definitive was ‘With Teeth’ back in 2005; since then Trent has taken the outfit on an odyssey that’s taken in dystopian concept records (‘Year Zero’), experimental sketches (the ‘Ghosts’ sequence) and wafty ambience (‘The Slip’). All of those had their merits, and even though the line-up has been reshuffled, there’s something about ‘Came Back Haunted’ that sounds like NIN are back to being what they're intended for.
Perhaps a return to a major label after years of DIY led Reznor back to the flavours of NIN's 90s heyday. Perhaps this "haunting" represents a terror and eventual boredom in those constant attempts to remodel the record industry. Maybe, aged 48, he’s just reconnected with his inner turmoil and remembered how to channel it. Either way, this bodes very well for the album.
Are you pleased to see NIN back, haunted or otherwise?