Album review: How to Destroy Angels, 'Welcome Oblivion'

2 stars (out of 4)

After putting Nine Inch Nails on hiatus a few years ago (only to revive the group last month), Trent Reznor has poured his energies into How to Destroy Angels, a group that includes his wife, Mariqueen Maandig, and longtime producer Atticus Ross. After two EPs, “Welcome Oblivion” marks the group’s full-length debut. Rather than a major departure from NIN, the music zeroes in on a narrow sliver of Reznor’s repertoire.

With Maandiq delivering vocals barely above a whisper, “Oblivion” traffics in slow-motion shadow-play. The bubbling, burbling electronic crosscurrents create an undercurrent of anxiety, while never taxing the volume meter. Reznor has been here before, particularly on the quieter sections of Nine Inch Nails’ best album, “The Fragile” (1999), the instrumentals compilation “Ghosts I-IV” (2008), and his soundtracks with Ross (“The Social Network,” “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”). Fresh inspiration strikes on “Ice Age,” a warped folk-song with acoustic instruments. But much of “Welcome to Oblivion” feels like a 65-minute placeholder akin to a remix album rather than a major new direction for Reznor to pursue.

greg@gregkot.com

 

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