Music Review: Nine Inch Nails: Not The Actual Events

By Jaylyn Umana     

After a long three years, Nine Inch Nails made a return with their newest release; a new EP entitled Not The Actual Events. Lead singer and mastermind behind the group and its music, Trent Reznor, had been making the statement that the band would follow up their 2013 release Hesitation Marks with new material in 2016. I remember learning that the EP would be released the week before our winter/holiday recess and I was ecstatic. The year had produced so much great material from some of my favorite bands, but the end of 2016 saw my favorite record of the year come to light. Not The Actual Events is a subtle callback to the Nine Inch Nails of the 1990’s, but is also a very clear record of the present day. This is not in any way a bad thing, as this EP brought back the heavy industrial aspects to Nine Inch Nails (although Trent Reznor doesn’t particularly like that label), contrary to their previous release in 2013. Additionally, this release marks the announcement of Atticus Ross as a full-time member of NIN.

The EP features 5 tracks: “Branches/Bones”, “Dear World,”, “She’s Gone Away”, “The Idea of You”, and “Burning Bright (Field on Fire)”. This Nine Inch Nails extended play has a length of just seconds over 21 minutes, and trust me when I say that every second is worth it. Not The Actual Events being released on Trent’s own label reflects that this is exactly what he wanted to be released, and thus there were little to no hindrances in his expression on this record.

Allow me to entice you to listen to this release as I walk you through each song. The first track, “Branches/Bones” is very high energy and I feel that it prepares the listener for the rest of the tracks. During this song you are guaranteed to want to move any part of your body to the rhythm. At the very least, you will feel the music is compelling you to express yourself in some way shape or form. This song, however, is very short, as it clocks in at around a minute and forty-six seconds. The song is short and cuts off abruptly for a very important reason. “Dear World,”, the second track, is quit an easy going song for the most part in that it is both mind-numbing and mind-activating simultaneously in the best way possible. The track is ever-building on top of itself; layers building upon layers to create a visual in your mind purely from audio. You will know what I mean if you listen to it, because your mind will race so fast that it seems to slow down and chills are sure to run down your spine. “Dear World,” is approximately four minutes in length. The third track is entitled “She’s Gone Away”, and it is mellow through and through, despite the noise rock undertones. The song is a real thinker, in the sense that in order to unveil the entire song to your mind, you must focus on each of the various layers that you may hear while others don’t. Melodies and basslines become one in this song and it is a genius concept come to life through sound. The song last for approximately six minutes, and it is the longest track on the record. Up next is my personal favorite track on the record; “The Idea of You”. This track is very reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails’ 1992 EP, Broken. Dave Grohl is the featured drummer on the track and that is a plus to everything that this song is. All aspects of this song cannot be described by any word other than awesome. From the powerful bass/tone equilibrium of the guitar and bass guitar, the drumming that can only be described as the perfection for the song, to the gritty and distorted vocals; this song makes you feel like a person paying your mind a quick visit, as it is now foreign land to you now that you’ve allowed for the magnificence that is this song to flourish in there. “The Idea of You” lasts for about three and a half minutes, and you will want to hear every last bit of it. This leads me to the final track on the album; featuring Dave Navarro on guitar, the song is “Burning Bright (Field on Fire)”. The track itself is one symbiotic colony of sound in the form of a tidal wave. This is one tidal that you will want to get swept away in, however, because it works for all music listeners. There’s a very heavy wall of guitar chords and a calvary of feedback from the instruments. What may sound like pure fuzz in the background is just another layer to the song that you have just uncovered, amazingly to find a symphony of guitar solos, synthesizer notes {as NIN seems to be one of those groups who really have perfected its use}, and screaming vocals. “Burning Bright (Field on Fire)” is five minutes and forty-nine seconds in length.

To summarize, Not The Actual Events is a great release that I urge everyone to checkout on their streaming service or any online source for music, because this may easily become someone’s favorite record as a result of all the musical elements coming together to form it. I am not a musical connoisseur, I just listen to the good stuff.

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