I was asked to write up this review of the new NIN double album Ghosts V: Together and Ghosts VI: Locusts. This is my first EVER proper article, so yeah, no pressure right?
I’ve been listening to NIN on and off for a long time so I’ve always been a fan, but I’m not familiar with every album they have produced. So admittedly I did do some extra research especially for this article, as I’m not exactly reviewing a mate of a mates band who played open mic night that one time...
Ghosts V and VI continues the collected instrumental works of NIN after releasing Ghosts I - IV back around 2008. This first collection stuck to the more industrial metal side of NIN in several mid tracks, with the deep, dark, and drifting stuff collected within the start and finish. A huge collection of well varied but signature sound pieces of music. Trent Reznor describes Ghosts as “a soundtrack for daydreams”.
These new albums however do not really feature any of the aggressive Nails sound we are so familiar with; Guitars are replaced with pianos, sharp beeps and crashes have now become softer, muffled, and distant. I realise I might not be selling it well so far to the old schools Nails fans out there so I’ll try and go into some more depth.
The opening track of the first - Ghosts V conjured up some great visuals in my mind, like floating in shallow waters on the shoreline at 3am, spooky and beautiful. It led me to feel that as the album progressed I should expect similar sounds to that of the latter half of With Teeth (2005), mixed with the strong eerie sadness of selected tracks from The Downward Spiral (1994).. I could tell it was going to be emotional.
Further listening revealed Ghosts V to be an overall sleepy sounding album that gets deeper the longer you listen. Very closely mirroring the instrumental sounds of How to destroy Angels (a post-industrial band and project of Trent, Atticus, and Trent's wife - Mariqueen.) Check out their album 'Welcome Oblivion' if you do not already know of this group and want to hear more.
Moving on to the second album - Ghosts VI. What stood out to me the most was the change in tempo and further depth, this album has woken up a bit. In the 4th track titled ‘run like hell’, there’s a sound to it that I can only describe or compare to that of some of the tracks from Massive attack's 'Mezzanine', deep drums, strong build up, and a lovely trip-hop/industrial fusion.
Overall, these albums are very much a soundtrack or a background accompaniment, probably not interesting at all to the old school NIN fans who favour the aggro - mechanical - metal of all well known NIN productions. Ghosts V is definitely a sleepy evening or misty morning album, but we know NIN has always had two very different musical sides.
When it comes to criticisms, I don’t really have any. I always got the impression that Trent wanted to do classical/concept focused work. He clearly has always had a passion for eerie atmospheres and exploring great depth in his music, but also a great sadness, pushing boundaries to achieve great emotional responses to his music. It's honestly beautiful.
Trent’s more recent works consist of other interesting pop ups in tv & cinema, having worked on the scores for The girl with the dragon tattoo and the hit Netflix series Gone Girl (as well as many, many other projects that I really enjoyed learning about). I’m excited to see what else will happen, and hopefully for those of us who still hold a lot of love for the classic sound of 'Pretty hate machine', maybe something fierce and angry will come out of the deep dark waters of present day NIN? I certainly hope so!
Scores: (As this album has no singing or dance factor to it, we are changing the scores for this one slightly.)
Sound quality: 9.5 Enjoyment factor: 5 Energy/Depth: 6.5 Satisfaction: 5 Re-playability: 5
Overall score: 6.2/10