100 Greatest Songs of the 90’s #85 Nine Inch Nails – March of The Pigs

Released : 1994

Success is a relative term. From an outsider’s perspective selling lots of records – especially ones like Nine Inch Nails debut album Pretty Hate Machine, with it’s ferocious industrial core – was a feat in itself for music so far from the American dream. But for many in the wave of bands who followed Nirvana’s destruction of the glass ceiling between them and the mainstream success could also be defined as not ending up in a straitjacket, or a bodybag. This weight was entropic.

Trent Reznor had a broader vision for his music than simply locking himself into the rock star mechanic; moving labels in preparation for the band’s second album The Downward Spiral, he also negotiated the rights to set up a new imprint on which he would release material in line with his vision. Reznor brought in the likes of Flood and guitar distortionist Adrian Bellew to assist, but his final recruit was a house, or more accurately 10050 Cielo Drive in LA, one of the locations of the Manson cult’s mass killing spree in the summer of 1969.

There are moments on The Downward Spiral on which Reznor seems totally cut off from the outside world – he once described the process of making it as like “climbing down a manhole and pulling the cover over” – and March of The Pigs distills all of that alienation into three minutes of chaos, the sound of a personality fracturing, part the noise of a brutal hardcore sociopath, part that of an S&M techno freak. In the end the Pigs won, but after The Downward Spiral‘s release, they had a whole new other set of problems to deal with.

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