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Welcome Oblivion

How to Destroy Angels: Welcome Oblivion

  • How to Destroy Angels
  • Dance & Electronica
  • Out now
  • Columbia
  • Everywhere
reviewed by
Ester Meerman
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How to Destroy Angels: Welcome Oblivion

For his new project, How to Destroy Angels, Nine Inch Nails mastermind, Trent Reznor, has teamed up with his wife, Mariqueen Maandig, his long-time musical partner in crime, Atticus Ross, and Nine Inch Nails’ art director, Rob Sheridan.

With How to Destroy Angels’ DNA so closely linked to that of Nine Inch Nails, it should come as no surprise that the groups, at first hearing, sound quite similar. The easiest way to describe this album – or this new band, for that matter – is to say that it sounds like a light version of Nine Inch Nails; less angry and aggressive. But the new foursome wanders into plenty of other musical corners to justify their new musical explorations.

For starters, most of the tracks on Welcome Oblivion are more electronic than anything Reznor has ever done. Good examples of this are the bare beats on ‘The Loop Closes’ and ‘Too Late, All Gone’, with their use of dry slaps and pulsating synths.

The female voice also adds a new dimension, as does the use of dual lead vocals by Reznor and Maandig. The latter is essentially the main vocalist for the band and her voice comfortably switches from angelic on ‘On the Wing’ to riot-girl-angry on the title track.

Brief opener, ‘The Wake-up’, introduces the sometimes glitchy production of the album and builds on a deep bass and layers of vocals that quickly intertwine and pile up. The entangled disorder gets cut off before it gets too messy, though, and ends with a peculiur backward loop of one of the lyrics, giving the track a spooky finale.

‘Ice Age’ wraps a staccato banjo, stuck on an angular loop, around Maandig’s ethereal vocals, while ‘How Long?’ has a very poppy chorus and is filled with the type of beats and bass loops that would make even Timbaland jealous. ‘Strings and Attractors’, meanwhile, sounds like an ode to 90’s glitch, whereas ‘Recursive Self-Improvement’ has a distinctive analogue sound, vaguely reminiscent of 8-bit.

One thing that How to Destroy Angels certainly has in common with Nine Inch Nails is the meticulous attention to detail; every beat, fill, vocal and loop sound like they are exactly where they should be – not a single note on the album sounds superfluous.

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