By at 11:04 PM Monday, May 31st 2010


How To Destroy Our Snap Judgements

How To Destroy Angels, Reviews


Since its unveiling a month ago, we’ve been closely following every movement made by How To Destroy Angels, Trent Reznor’s new band with his wife Mariqueen Maandig, as well as longtime Nine Inch Nails producer/collaborator Atticus Ross. We’ve been looking forward to their six-song debut EP, and it’s finally arrived.

Admittedly, a good percentage of our anticipation was due to the breathless excitement that usually accompanies new NIN releases – after all, Trent Reznor used to be the guy who gifted the world with one album every five years, then suddenly got all prolific on our asses and released 3 pretty great records in the past three years – which ultimately culminated in his “retiring” NIN, at least in the live incarnation. The other reason for our piqued interest is the fact that Mariqueen had come from virtually nowhere, suddenly aligned with such great artists. Now that we have HTDA’s debut EP, we’re able to finally experience the 6 songs they’ve produced so far, in their entirety.

Our first impression of opening track The Space In Between wasn’t necessarily the best, and not much has changed in that regard. The distorted guitars still rock, and Mariqueen’s vocals still sound like they shouldn’t be there. But when the abrupt ending arrives, the track gains new meaning, as if it were meant as a mere introduction to Parasite, which kicks ass in a very Nails kind of way. The bassline is groovy, the inferno of background noises is as effective as it was on NIN’s Year Zero, and – surprise – you can actually hear Trent singing alongside his wife.

Where Parasite was glorious in its broken electronic sound effects all over the place, Fur Lined revels in the tight beat and polite keyboards, with singing and guitars that would make a Pop-era Bono Vox very proud. A downright danceable track with a frantic robot-hive chorus that flirts with a Girls & Boys echo, framed in the same digital disco manner as the first half of NIN’s last album The Slip.

BBB, the last surprise on the EP, is a dangerously catchy spin of electronic/pop music into a militant, pulsing industrial buzz march. The lyrics are straight-up funk, there’s no denying it, but the weird instrumentation that accompanies it all is what makes this track so fucking interesting.

The greatest comparisons to Reznor’s main project will be made on The Believers, a largely instrumental track that builds the same pulsing digital deathhouse soundscapes so increasingly prevalent through the artist’s work over the previous two decades. When Mariqueen’s breathy whisper arrives, it’s clear that she’s a fit for the project; an actual singer who was actually singing would draw attention away from the sound as a whole. Mariqueen’s delivery enables her to blend in with the surrounding atmosphere while driving it just enough to seduce the listener, never distract.

Originally, I said that this band sounded like “a poor man’s Portishead”. I stand by that claim only for the final track, because the rest of the EP has proven me wrong. A Drowning definitely sounds better to me now, as a closing track to the collection rather than a debut piece, but the beat is still leaning over the edge of tacky, and the singing is no better than amateurish. Of course, Trent and Atticus throw in some heavily-distorted guitars in the middle, shift our attention away, and all is well.

Fernando collaborated with Johnny Firecloud for this review.


How To Destroy Angels

How To Destroy Angels

Released: 1/06/2010
Label: The Null Corporation
1. The Space In Between
2. Parasite
3. Fur-Lined
4. BBB
5. The Believers
6. A Drowning

Meanwhile, On The Internet...

  1. doug says:

    nice to see you’ve already shit out a review two hours after hearing it for the first time

  2. Euphem says:

    Nice review, I agree on your points about context, this ep gels and meshes a little better in the correct order….Honestly though, good job Atticus & the Reznors. Nice summer release, now just tide me over until the LP or some new NIN and all will be good…

  3. whatever says:

    I pretty much agree with you guys, pretty cool ep.

  4. José De la Rosé says:

    What is a deathhouse?

  5. Skwerl says:

    4 stars? ugh, should i download this or something? i so haven’t cared.

  6. Pearl Boshomane says:

    Haven’t downloaded it yet. Ya’ll got me so excited now! I think I’ll wait till my birthday next week. It’ll be my present to Me!

  7. Passenger says:

    Kind of disappointed by the really straight, almost linear song structures, really sounds more like a sound study to me. It’s just flat. A great, cool sound study mind you, but nothing more or so exciting, flat. Even Fur Lined is getting a litlle dull after some time, being the popiest Trent. Also, Big Black Boobs, c’mon. A real drummer would come in handy. Fur Lined – The Slip, sounds almost a bit like Only. BBB – Year Zero stuff.

    Yay for cursor-keys comment movement!

  8. megabomberman says:

    Space in Between is actually the standout track for me, very atmospheric and melodic, the rest might grow on me, but it’s a poor mans heligoland so far.

  9. Mohd Rafie says:

    Fur Lined sounds a lot like NIN’s Only, don’t you think?? The drum patterns and the bassline is very similiar to that song..

  10. neflys says:

    trent has lost his touch on this one. the vocalist is horrible. and the lyrics… what the hell is that?

  11. afuxionaddo says:

    5 words.

    failed fever ray rip off.

  12. Juliapalooza says:

    Just sounds like a chick singing over NIN B-sides. But alas! I like it.

    And new direction or not, “Fur Lined” is almost too close to “Only”.

  13. Scatology:) says:

    Of course you all have the right to voice your opinion. It’s OK. But if you are real fans, you shoud check more about background for this project. Where the name HTDA cames from? From the biggest influence of Trent… No it’s not Queen, David Bowie or Skinny Puppy (although they all played a role in NIN sound). It’s – British experimental/industrial/avangarde band COIL (1982-2004), aka (post-) 1/3 of legendary THROBBING GRISTLE – the band that invented term “Industrial music”. HTDA? was the first vinyl (EP) release by Coil in 1984 (before that only cassette releases). Trent even contacted Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson who mresides now in Thailand for permission of using a name for this title (in the mid 90-ties Trent wanted to release Coil album on Nothing and it got recorded as a demo without vocals, but Coil decided to nstick to the underground and thought thois album would be too commercial for them and it remained unreleased (an instrumental demo called “Backwards” floated around)… until it was released “post-humosly” in 2005 as a last (until now) Coil album “The Ape Of Naples”, yet it was so hevily remixed, that it is absolutely different entity than intended…).
    Anyway (sorry for the long intro), Trent said on twitter that this EP is more of a “rehearsal” or “sound-check” (if you like), and I would not be surprised that they used some already written yet unreleased NIN stuff. Trent himself confessed that this EP is different fromk HTDA will be in thje future – it will be more electronic/experimental and a lot less rock (hopefully) than this EP. All that’s left is to wait for the LP in the fiorst quarter of 2011, and then judge….
    And 2 more things – this EP groves on with time, yet of course I am waiting something more like Coil’s “moon music”. Other thing – Trent’s vocals ain’t so bad, actually very good imho (although I didn’t think like that the first time I heard them), still… she has not to be an opera singer. Not the professionalism counts but how it all hangs / sounds together, and I think that for such a rushed first EP they are pretty good, if not more. In my country there is a saying: “The most genial things are the most simple ones (or you can put it vice versa)”.
    And the last thing. The wife of T.R. did not came from nowhere. She was a singer and (if I remember correctly) guitarist in a (industrial) rock band West India(n) Girls. The thing that the band were never featured on the cover of The Rolling Stone mag. doesn’t mean that they/she were untalented, on the countrary… I am mostly interested in underground and DIY bands… if they go to glossy pages…. then there are very few I tolerate after that. Just give a thought about that… Just an example – Marylin Manson. This f***ing untalented idiot completely made by Trent and who totally ripped off stage presence from Rozz Williams (founder of Christian Death and gothic rock or death rock (as he liked to call it), R.I.P.) and stage show ripped from Skinny Puppy. I bet not many people knows work Christian Death/Rozz Williams or Skinny Puppy in depth, yet untalented M.M. (with each album worse than previous) is a star, because he is almost in every music journal. By that metaphora I just wanted to say, that it is not importyant where are you comming from (evfen nowhere is good, it’s even more exciting), but what is the result in the end (and it is not (at least entirely) judged by the first EP). We have too little material (and according to Trent, not the exact one HTDA was made for, to judge). Of course it is jujst my opinion. You have the right to disagree.

  14. Scatology:) says:

    I apologize for the mistake in the above comment. Where I wrote “Trent’s vocals ain’t so bad…” I intended to write “Trent wife’s vocals…”! I apologize for the mistake I made. Mea culpa!

  15. hadenough says:

    I’m just going to say it and quit sidestepping around out of fear of Trent’s asskissers. This shat sucks. Simple as that. 3rd wheel anyone?

  16. […] That changed recently, as an online product listing indicated that a follow-up to the band’s debut EP might finally have an official release […]

  17. […] Ross, and longtime visual collaborator Rob Sheridan. Coming two years after the band’s surprising 2010 debut EP is their second effort, An Omen EP, carrying the obligatory, breathless anticipation […]

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