Nine Inch Nails, Not The Actual Events

American industrial rock band, Nine Inch Nails have released their latest E.P. Not the Actual Events. 

By Alice Jane.

There had been rumours of a new release from Nine Inch Nails circulating for the latter half of 2016, but it wasn’t until very recently (16th December to be exact) that we received confirmation from Trent Reznor himself that a new release was coming.

The announcement also confirmed long-time collaborator Atticus Ross as an official member of the band, which could be considered long overdue since he has contributed to every Nine Inch Nails album since 2005’s With Teeth, as well as having worked with Trent on numerous film soundtracks including The Social Network, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and Gone Girl. The E.P. also sees the return of Dave Grohl (who played drums on several tracks on With Teeth) and Dave Navarro (who had previously played guitar on an alternate version of Piggy for the band’s Further Down The Spiral remix album), as well as  début of How To Destroy Angels vocalist Mariqueen Maandig.

In the announcement, Reznor described the release as “an unfriendly, fairly impenetrable record that we needed to make” and it’s an assessment that we cannot really argue with, given that even as a long-time fan of the band we found that several listens were needed to fully appreciate it. From the sprawling wastelands of She’s Gone Away and Burning Bright (Field on Fire) to the jarring polyrhythmic The Idea Of You that never quite allows the listener to settle, none of the tracks that make up this release would be a good choice for a single and we can’t imagine any of them picking up much radio airtime or being a favourite for club DJs. There is no Head Like a Hole, Closer, or Only on this E.P. and whilst we can appreciate what they were going for, it isn’t hard to feel slightly disappointed as the moments that Trent allows his pop sensibilities to come through with a solid hook are when the band truly shine.

As much as we did enjoy this E.P., it’s recommended more for people who are already fans of the band, as those who are unfamiliar with their work would be better off starting with one of their more accessible releases such as With Teeth. Even when recommending to fans, we include a caveat to not have too high expectations, as although Not The Actual Events is fairly good, it is not the follow-up to 2013’s Hesitation Marks that fans have been clamouring for. Trent described it as a record they needed to make and as such it feels like something the band needed to get out of their system in preparation for a full album release in 2017 – a prelude to a record that doesn’t exist yet, rather than a work that stands alone in its own right.