Album Review: Nine Inch Nails – “With Teeth”

Nine Inch Nails’ fourth studio album, With Teeth, was released on May 3, 2005. It was released in the DualDisc format, with one side being the regular CD, and the other side being a DVD. The DVD includes the songs in 5.1 Surround Sound, the music video for “The Hand That Feeds,” and an interactive discography with audio and video clips; however, there is no audio or video included from the Pretty Hate Machine era. With Teeth debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart, selling more than 272,000 copies in its first week of release.

With Teeth opens with “All the Love in the World,” which has a slower opening that features minimal percussion, keyboard, and Trent Reznor’s vocals. As the song progresses, a bassline and distortion is added to the mix, and the percussion picks up in intensity. The song culminates in intensity right near the end, with Trent’s vocals matching the intensity of the percussion. Sonically, this is a good song to open an album with. This is followed by “You Know What You Are?,” which picks up the intensity of the album considerably. This song has the harder industrial sound that is associated with Nine Inch Nails.

“The Collector” opens with percussion and a bassline that gives the song more of a midtempo feel, especially in comparison to “You Know What You Are?” The intensity of all of the musical elements, including Trent’s vocals, pick up as the song progresses. This is followed by “The Hand That Feeds,” which was released as the lead-off single for With Teeth. The single peaked at number thirty-one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song has a strong influence from The Kinks, especially since the riff is a modified version of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.” This is one of my personal favorite songs from the album.

Next is “Love Is Not Enough,” which slows the tempo of the album back down. It opens with heavy percussion and Trent’s vocals (which have been processed). As the song progresses, a guitar is added to the mix; with the addition of the guitar, the intensity of the song begins to build. “Every Day Is Exactly the Same” was released as the third single from With Teeth, and it peaked at number fifty-six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This is the closest you would hear Nine Inch Nails get to recording a ballad, and it offers a much needed break in the middle of the album from the more intense material that precedes it. “Every Day Is Exactly the Same” is another song that I personally enjoy from With Teeth.

This is followed by the title song, which is also the longest song on the album. The bassline in this song almost has a “funk” sound to it; this is especially accentuated by the percussion. It’s more of a midtempo song than “Every Day Is Exactly the Same” is, which allows the album to begin picking back up in tempo. Next is “Only,” which was released as the second single from With Teeth, and it peaked at number ninety on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This song has more a “pop” sound to it, but it’s not quite as uptempo or aggressive as some of the earlier songs on the album were. It’s another song that I really enjoy from this album, and I’m actually quite surprised that this didn’t perform a little better on the mainstream charts.

“Getting Smaller” really picks the tempo of the album back up, and the song builds in intensity as it progresses; however, it doesn’t rely on distortion as much as you’d normally expect from an uptempo Nine Inch Nails song. This is followed by “Sunspots”; sonically, the song is slow-to-midtempo. “The Line Begins to Blur” features a very heavy bassline, and Trent’s vocals are distorted; it’s another slower song that appears on the album.

Next is “Beside You in Time,” which features an extended introduction that includes a bassline and Trent’s vocals repeating the word “hello.” Trent’s lyrics really get going a little before the two minute mark; however, he falls back into repeating “hello” rather quickly. It’s not until the halfway point of the song until it really gets going. To me, this is one of the more disappointing songs on the album. With Teeth closes with “Right Where It Belongs,” which features a bassline and a keyboard accompanying Trent’s vocals. Sonically, this is a great song to end an album with.

While this album includes many musical and thematic ideas that have appeared on previous Nine Inch Nails releases, Trent Reznor has shown an evolution as a producer; he finds different ways to cast these themes to create music that doesn’t simply sound like a retread of material he has recorded before. As for the album itself, it flows together very well for the first nine songs (up to “Getting Smaller”). After that, the sequencing of the album ends up bogging down the listening experience for most of the remainder of the album. With Teeth is a decent album, but overall, it’s just not quite as strong as some of Nine Inch Nails’ previous releases.


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