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The Downward Spiral (halo)

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Halo 8 - The Downward Spiral
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Halo 8 DE - The Downward Spiral Deluxe Edition
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The Downward Spiral (also known as Halo 8) is Nine Inch Nails' second LP. It was released on March 8, 1994. It is likely the most acclaimed and well-known of the band's discography, and is said to have brought "industrial" music to the mainstream.

Contents

Inspiration

Trent Reznor has stated in various interviews some of the ideas and inspiration behind the album:

"The idea behind the album is of someone who sheds everything around them to a potential nothingness, but through career, religion, relationship, belief and so on. It's less muscle-flexing, though when I started it I didn't know what I wanted it to sound like. I knew I didn't want to be a full metal album, so I tried to address the issue of restraint. It was a long process."[1]

"Thematically I wanted to explore the idea of somebody who systematically throws or uncovers every layer of what he's surrounded with, comfort-wise, from personal relationships to religion to questioning the whole situation. Someone dissecting his own ability to relate to other people or to have anything to believe in...With 'The Downward Spiral' I tried to make a record that had full range, rather than a real guitar-based record or a real synth-based record. I tried to make it something that opened the palate for NIN, so we don't get pigeon-holed. It was a conscious effort to focus more on texture and space, rather than bludgeoning you over the head for an hour with a guitar."[2]

"I was really into electronic music at the time. "David Bowie's 'Low' was probably the single greatest influence on 'The Downward Spiral' for me. I got into Bowie in the 'Scary Monsters' era, then I picked up 'Low' and instantly fell for it. I related to it on a song-writing level, a mood level, and on a song-structure level...I like working within the framework of accessibility, and songs of course, but I also like things that are more experimental and instrumental, maybe."[3]

Recording

Reznor set out to make an album that was a departure from the Broken EP ("when I went into the studio, I knew that I didn't want to make Broken again"), which he described as "a real hard-sounding record that was just one big blast of anger." Instead, Reznor wanted to create an album "that went in 10 different directions, but that was all united somehow." Reznor brought in a number of guest performers to record, including Stephen Perkins and Adrian Belew. Perkins played a number of drum parts that were recorded live in the studio; these tracks were then turned into sample loops. Reznor took a similar approach to recording guitar parts. Reznor would record 20 to 25-minute long sessions of himself playing guitar on a hard disc recorder with a Studio Vision sequencer, then would cut out parts of the recording he found interesting for later use. Reznor said, "99 percent of the stuff we do–even vocals–is recorded into the computer [hard disk] first. We get an arrangement together and then dump it to tape." For "Mr. Self Destruct", Reznor ran the entire mix through the mic pre-amps of several modules plundered from an old Neve board.

Like other NIN releases, some songs never made it to the final album. In this case, some songs were "The Beauty Of The Drug", which was a general out take, and "Just Do It", which was a track prompting the album's protagonist to kill himself. The latter was axed at the request of Flood, who refused to have anything to do with it.

Concept and Interpretations

There are numerous layers of metaphors that are present throughout the album, which leaves it open to wide interpretation. As a whole, The Downward Spiral is defined by Nietzschean concepts and a prominent theme of existentialism. It is a concept album in which the overarching plot follows the protagonist moving through his own "Downward Spiral", dealing with religion, dehumanization, violence, disease, society, drugs, sex, and finally suicide. Reznor has stated that the character is a representation of himself:

"...it was during that tour (Self Destruct) that problems started to arise. Prior to that I would have considered myself pretty normal. With the Downward Spiral, I can remember where I was in my head, what I was thinking, and I can remember writing that record, and the mindset. This record that was about an extension of me, became the truth fulfilling itself."

Most fans seem to agree that "Closer" (noted for its "I want to fuck you like an animal" lyric) has meaning deeper than its surface lyrics (note the desperate dependency expressed by the final line, "you are the reason I stay alive"). The narrator was not exactly modeled after Trent Reznor's previous life, though he would later go through his own sort of "downward spiral" during the Fragility tour, battling issues such as drug abuse.

"A dissertation on The Downward Spiral"

This is a lengthy interpretation of the album's story written by two men back around 1998. Read it at:

Recurring themes and styles

Samples

see also Samples In NIN Songs
  • "Mr. Self Destruct" begins with a sample from the 1971 film THX 1138. It is taken from a scene in which a man is being beaten by a guard depicted on a holographic television. [4]
  • The frantic drumming at the end of "Piggy" played by Reznor himself—his first and only attempt at live drumming on a record, and one of the few "live" drum performances on the album (Stephen Perkins on "I Do Not Want This," Andy Kubiszewski on "The Downward Spiral," and Chris Vrenna on "Hurt"). He states that it was from him testing the mic setup in studio, but he liked the sound too much to not include it. [5]
  • "Closer" uses a heavily modified sample of a kick drum from the song "Nightclubbing" from The Idiot album by Iggy Pop. [6]
  • "A Warm Place" is based on the melody from David Bowie's 1980 single "Crystal Japan." Some hear it as a complete rip-off, while others argue that from a music theory point of view that the structure has significant differences.
  • The looping female voice that appears on "Reptile" (approx. 5:06) is from the 1974 film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The strange mechanical sound before the drums start can be found in the movie Leviathan and the other sounds during all the song are found in Aliens (the escape in the vessel).

Re-Release

To mark the album's tenth anniversary, The Downward Spiral was re-released in two new formats:

  • As a 2-CD "Deluxe Edition" (labeled Halo 8DE). The first disc is an SACD/CD hybrid featuring the album in high-resolution stereo and 5.1 surround sound. The second disc features various remixes, b-sides, and other non-album tracks that were available around the time of the original release.
  • As a DualDisc. The CD side features a digitally remastered version of the album. The DVD side includes high-resolution stereo and 5.1 surround sound versions of the album as well as videos for "Closer" (director's cut), "March Of The Pigs" and "Hurt" (live). Also included is a gallery of artwork from The Downward Spiral era (though many photos of Closure artwork are also included) and a discography.

The nin.com subsite tds.nin.com was set up to promote the re-release.

Unmastered Instrumentals

The unmastered instrumental versions of almost all the songs on The Downward Spiral ("Ruiner" and "Big Man With A Gun" were not included) have been made available on remix.nin.com for streaming and free download.

Vinyl Re-release

Universal chose, without consulting Trent Reznor, to re-release the vinyl edition of The Downward Spiral as a part of their Back to Back collection celebrating the 60th anniversary of vinyl. Trent's opinion on this was posted on nin.com:

You may have heard there's a new re-release of The Downward Spiral on vinyl. I heard that, too. I 
have no idea what it is or what's on it because the band has had no involvement in it.

The vinyl was released on September 23, 2008, and has the same artwork and track listing as the original 1994 release.

Live

All of these songs have been played live. Obviously, they were featured during the Self Destruct Tours, though "Heresy" was played only once in 1994 and disappeared from live shows until 2007.

On the Performance 2007, The Downward Spiral era songs received more frequent play time. A particularly extreme example is the 2007/02/15 show in Madrid, Spain, when ten tracks from the The Downward Spiral were performed, the first seven of which were performed in their exact order on the album.

During the band's Webster Hall performance on August 23, 2009, the band opened the show by performing the album in its entirety which included the live debut of "A Warm Place" and the first performance of "Big Man With a Gun" in over 15 years. The same thing happened at the Hollywood Palladium show.

Track Listing (original release, main disc of DVD-A/SACD/CD rerelease)

The Downward Spiral is available for download on iTunes and Amazon MP3

  1. "Mr. Self Destruct" – 4:30
  2. "Piggy" – 4:24
  3. "Heresy" – 3:54
  4. "March Of The Pigs" – 2:58
  5. "Closer" – 6:13
  6. "Ruiner" – 4:58
  7. "The Becoming" – 5:31
  8. "I Do Not Want This" – 5:41
  9. "Big Man With A Gun" – 1:38
  10. "A Warm Place" – 3:22
  11. "Eraser" – 4:54
  12. "Reptile" – 6:51
  13. "The Downward Spiral" – 3:58
  14. "Hurt" – 6:15

Disc 2 (SACD rerelease only)

  1. "Burn" - 5:00
  2. "Closer" (Precursor) - 7:16
  3. "Piggy" (Nothing Can Stop Me Now) - 4:03
  4. "A Violet Fluid" - 1:04
  5. "Dead Souls" - 4:53
  6. "Hurt" (Quiet) - 5:08
  7. "Closer To God" - 5:05
  8. "All The Pigs, All Lined Up" - 7:26
  9. "Memorabilia" - 7:22
  10. "The Downward Spiral" (The Bottom) - 7:32
  11. "Ruiner" (Demo) - 4:51
  12. "Liar" (Reptile Demo) - 6:57
  13. "Heresy" (Demo) - 4:00

The original Japanese release includes "Dead Souls" between "Big Man With a Gun" and "A Warm Place."

The double vinyl release splits sides between "March of the Pigs" and "Closer," "The Becoming" and "I Do Not Want This," and "Eraser" and "Reptile." Rather than completely separating the songs, the transitions are retained: "The Becoming" still contains the fade-in of the "I Do Not Want This" beginning, but fades out; the introduction of "Reptile" is tagged onto the end of "Eraser."

Cover Art

Russell Mills explained the ideas and materials that made up the painting (titled "Wound") that was used for the cover:

"I had been thinking about making works that dealt with layers, physically, materially and conceptually. I wanted to produce works that were about both exposure and revealing and at the same dealt with closure and covering. Given the nature of the lyrics and the power of the music I was working with, I felt justified in attempting to make works that alluded to the apparently contradictory imagery of pain and healing. I wanted to make beautiful surfaces that partially revealed the visceral rawness of open wounds beneath. The mixed media work Wound was the first piece I tackled in this vein (no pun intended) and it became the cover of the album. It is made of plaster, acrylics, oils, rusted metals, insects, moths, blood (mine), wax, varnishes, and surgical bandaging on a wooden panel."[7]

Album Credits

  • Writing, and performance: Trent Reznor
  • Management: John A. Malm, Jr. for Conservative (1994); Rebel Waltz, Inc. (2004)
  • Assistance: Chris Vrenna, Maise
  • Engineering (2004): Alan Moulder
  • Additional engineering: Sean Beavan, Chris Vrenna, Alan Moulder, Bill Kennedy, Biran Pollack, John Aguto
  • Additional sampling and sound design: Chris Vrenna
  • Studios: Le Pig of Beverly Hills, The Record Plant, A&M Studios
  • Continuity: Trent Reznor, Chris Vrenna, Charlie Clouser
  • Mastering (1994): Tom Baker at Futuredisc


  • All paintings: Russell Mills
  • Photography: David Buckland, Rob Sheridan
  • Original package: Gary Talpas
  • Deluxe Edition package: Rob Sheridan


  • 5.1 mix: James Brown with Trent Reznor
  • Assistance: Neal Ferrazzani
  • Studio: Interscope Studios


  • High-resolution mastering: Bob Ludwig for Gateway Mastering, Portland, Maine


  • Publicity: Sioux Zimmerman for Formula
  • Booking: Gerry Gerrard for Artists & Audience
  • Merchandise: Jerry Long
  • Road Management: Mark O'Shea
  • Live audio engineering & coordination: Sean Beavan
  • Lighting/Set design: Jan Pieter Nipius, Roy Bennett
  • Live production management: Kevin Lyman, Ray Woodbury
  • Legal: Michael S. Toorock
  • Nothing Records: Tony Ciulla



  • Thank you: Interscope; Jimmy Iovine; Silvia Garcia; Susie Tallman; Peter Christopherson; Rick Rubin; Missy Worth; Brian Warner and Marilyn Manson; Brian Liesegang; the temporarily displaced Richard Bugg; Coco-Puff; Scott Hasson; Mark Tindle, Mike Morongell, Shelly Yakus and A&M; Cally, Jamie Spencer, Mark Marot, Chris Blackwell and Island UK; Paul Connolly; Alex Kochan; Ian Flooks; Mark Blasquez, Sean Wilhelmsen and Nadine's; Opcode Systems; Pat Stolpz, Martin Arthurs and Amek; Joseph Cultice; Handy Andy; Martina Chavez; Walter Cessna; Tina Montalbano; Carol Davis


We miss you Jeff Ward

©1994 Leaving Hope/TVT Music, Inc. ASCAP. All rights reserved.

Deluxe Edition Credits

  • Deluxe Edition executive producers: Courtney Holt, Paul Bishow, KamranV
  • Publicity: Dennis Dennehy
  • Booking: Mark Geiger for WMA
  • Legal: David Altschul, Ross Rosen
  • Audio asset coordination: Michael Etchart


  • Special thanks to: Leo Herrera; Jeff Anderson; Atticus Ross; Chandra Lynn and DigiDesign; Andrew Grad, West LA Music; Native Instruments; Tom Ryan, Gateway Mastering; Dave Casey, Apogee Digital; Monique McGuffin; Chuck Reed; Ed Goodreau; Jim Belcher; Vartan; Antone DeSantis; Ramon Galbert, Ingrid Erickson; Lee Edwards; Mike Ragonga; Tanya Grieg


  • 1–4, 6–8, 10–13 written by Trent Reznor ©1994 Leaving Hope/ TVT Music, Inc. ASCAP. All rights reserved.
  • 5 written by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris; Fractured Music (all rights controlled by Zoma Music Publishers, Ltd., ASCAP/PRS) ©1994 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International, Inc. for the world outside of the United States
  • 9 written by David Ball and Mark Almond ©1981 Phonogram Ltd. (London)

Re-release Rumors for other Albums

The re-release of The Downward Spiral has started rumors (along with Trent's own words, shown below) that The Fragile, Broken/Fixed, and Pretty Hate Machine will be re-released in high definition stereo and surround sound.

2006/02/10 Spiral chat:

Russhudson: For Trent: I love the 5.1 mixes of "Downward Spiral" and "With Teeth."
The spatial element has always felt like an important part of your music.
Any plans on doing a new mix of "The Fragile"?
Trent_reznor: I'd love to. Maybe when this touring cycle is over I'll get it going.

2004/12/03 nin.com access:

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2004/12/03 nin.com access:

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External links

Discography
Previous release - "March Of The Pigs" Halo number: 8 Next release - "Closer To God"