Album Review: Nine Inch Nails, ‘Not The Actual Events’

Let's hope this isn't the extent of what Trent Reznor has to offer in 2017

Written by Lucas Jones

Nine Inch Nails has, in the waning days of 2016, dropped a new EP that was teased at the beginning of the year. Not the Actual Events EP is a short but aggressive release, featuring five songs that showcase where the mastermind behind the band, Trent Reznor, is keeping his headspace these days. Long a fan of independent music, Reznor has been very secretive for a long time about the music he makes, and this EP was a surprise, although a welcome one.

Events harkens back to the Downward Spiral days, and it doesn’t feel like the safe kind of album that so many artists put out these days. Events takes chances. The songs all have a different vibe, unified only by the raw energy that NIN is known for. The super saturated distortion of “Burning Bright (Field on Fire”) is a great example of the energy contained in this EP The track isn’t flashy, rather, it drives the listener forward with a bit of an unstable edge.

“Branches/Bones” feels like a pop song, and perhaps that’s the point. Coming in at an unreasonably short sub two minutes, it’s a shout out to more recent NIN releases that showcase Reznor’s ability to write music and melody, as well as noise. Unfortunately, “Dear World” and “She’s Gone Away” don’t tap into this same energy. “World” just kind of…exists. “Away” is far too long. Though the song is interesting, and has great heavy energy, it could have been much shorter to concentrate the effect.

“The Idea of You” is a great pick-me-up at the end of the album, featuring shreddy guitar riffs and high pitched solo that reminds you of the kind of music NIN used to make. Not that I’m suggesting that Trent simply create for nostalgia. Without change and growth, artists get strangled, and I’d rather have a mediocre attempt at change than something new that I’ve already heard five times before. While this release is interesting, I’m excited to see what NIN puts out in 2017, as something tells me this EP isn’t the extent of Reznor’s musical exploits for the foreseeable future.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10