Thank you for your continued and loyal support over the yearsthis ones on me, Trent Reznor wrote on Nine Inch Nails Web site on Monday when he offered the bands new album as a free download. In doing so, he not only took over the role that fellow alternative-era art-rockers Radiohead had claimed in leading the charge toward free Internet distribution, but he marked the release of his fifth disc of new material so far this year, following the instrumental Ghosts IIV issued in mid-February, and matching the previously none-too-prolific output of his major-label career from 1989 through 2006.
Of course, one of the strengths of Reznors discography had been the painstaking effort he made to create utterly distinctive worlds on each new album, whether it was the tortured angst-ridden trip of The Downward Spiral (1994), the more sprawling soul-searching of The Fragile (1999) or the dense, playfully paranoid conceptualizing of Year Zero (2007). In comparison, Ghosts I-IV was merely an overflowing notebook of half-finished sketches, while The Slip is a quick n dirty garage-rock basement recording, industrial-thrash style, divided between atmospheric mechanical mood pieces such as 999,999 and Corona Radiata and much more aggressive, urgent and rewarding tunes such as 1,000,000, Letting You and Head Down.
As such, The Slip doesnt come close to matching the musical and lyrical intensity of Reznor at his very best. But its a testament to how vital his creative vision remains that its at least as good as lesser efforts such as With Teeth (2005) or Broken (1992). And who knows what else he has in store for the remaining seven months of 2008.