Trent Reznor, Died. Said "Fist F*ck" & Won a Grammy
Written: Jan 7, 2002 (Updated May 3, 2009)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Production, Intense Performance, Lyrics, Tone, & Reznor's Vocals
The Bottom Line: Trent Reznor's 1992 Broken EP is one of the most brilliant and loudest rock albums of the 90s with its angry and confrontational approach to rock.
(Note: Originally done on 8/1/00 but now re-edited and extended).
In the summer of 1991 when Nine Inch Nails went on the inaugural Lollapalooza tour headlined by Jane’s Addiction, things were looking up for NIN mastermind Trent Reznor as his 1989 debut album Pretty Hate Machine went platinum after two years of touring. Later in the early fall of that year, NIN was selected to open for Skid Row and Guns N’ Roses on a European tour that unfortunately lasted a few dates due to the fact that NIN didn’t fit in with the entire bill since both GNR and Skid Row were hard-rock bands rather than the industrial rock of NIN. While NIN was on the verge of success, the downside was the fact that their label TVT records not only didn’t support the album nor promoting it but the fact that Reznor wasn’t getting any credit for his contributions and remixes for his work with Ministry, Revolting C*cks, Megadeth, Butthole Surfers, and other acts.
In mid-1991, Reznor sued the label for its harsh work ethics and was trying to free himself from his TVT contract. While working on a new record in secrecy in Miami and various places in early 1992 with producer Flood on his side, buzz about the performances NIN made at Lollapalooza '91 was still flying as several record companies took note of the impact they’re making. One label was a young major label called Interscope Records founded by former record producer Jimmy Iovine (who had worked with Tom Petty, U2, and Stevie Nicks). By that time, Interscope had recent success with pop-rap impresarios Gerardo and Marky Mark (later, actor Mark Wahlberg) and Iovine was looking for a band that had a certain edge in the rising climb of Alternative Rock since Nirvana’s breakthrough in late '91. He found it in NIN but knew that Reznor was in war with TVT Records. Iovine decided to buy the TVT label in order to acquire NIN. When Reznor found out TVT got bought by Interscope because of him, he wasn’t pleased at first until meeting Iovine where he gave Reznor his own label and more support than TVT had given while TVT had no more involvement with NIN except for a portion of royalties.
During those secret sessions Reznor and Flood had produced, Reznor had an idea for his next project which was an abrasive and loud mini-album that not only showed the anger and intensity of the NIN live shows but the anger that Reznor had gone through since his war with TVT Records. The record would be titled Broken. The Broken EP was a mini-album of sonic anger, thrashing guitars, pounding drums, heavy synthesizers, and Trent Reznor’s angry and powerful lyrics. The pop flourishes that made Pretty Hate Machine great went out the window in favor of abrasive and unapologetic approach. Forget the current metal onslaught of Slipknot and Saliva and forget that god-awful Break Stuff from that awful band with that horrible name and its fat lead singer Fred Durst. Broken is a record that makes you want to destroy your house and everything else in sight.
The album starts off with a short and powerful intro called Pinion that starts out soft but builds up to get louder and powerful due to its grinding-metal guitar tracks and ominous synthesizer backgrounds that becomes louder and louder for about a minute until the last and powerful guitar riff ends the instrumental intro that leads to the next track known as Wish.
Wish is a powerful and ominous rock track that starts off with atmospheric and brooding synthesizer tracks along with pulsating drum machine tracks accompanying Reznor’s angst-ridden lyrics of “This is my first day of my last days/I built it up now I take it apart climbed up real high now fall down real far/No need for me to stay the last thing left I just threw it away/I put my faith in God and trust in you/Now there’s nothing more f*cked up I could do” and between the verses that Reznor sings, there are thrashing-metal guitar breaks that are powerful and vicious and they continue after he sings that leads to the songs powerful chorus of “Wish there was something real, wish there was something true/Wish there was something real, this world full of you”.
Then he goes further into his anger with these classic lyrics of “I’m the one without a soul, I’m the one with this big f*cking hole/No new tale to tell twenty-six years on my way to hell/Gotta listen to your big time hard line bad luck, fist f*ck/Don’t think you’re having the all the fun, you know me, I hate everyone” as hard-hitting live drums from Chris Vrenna and Pigface’s Martin Atkins starts to come in the middle of the second verse as blazing metal guitars come in as Reznor sings the chorus that is followed by an ominous keyboard solo along with pound-beating drum tracks come in as Reznor whispers “ I want to but I can’t turn back/But I want to” repeatedly until the guitar tracks come back into a full-on throttle assault filled with intensity and power as Reznor sings the chorus and repeats the line of “This world full of you” at the near end of the song.
Last is a powerful and thrashing metal-inspired track spurred by Reznor’s metal-blazing guitars along with its heart-pounding drum tracks that just rocks with its intense power and Reznor’s powerful and confrontational lyrics of “Gave up trying to figure it out my head got lost along the way/Worn out from giving it up my soul I p*ssed it all away/Still stings these shattered nerves/Pigs we get what pigs deserve/I’m going all the way down I’m leaving today”. He goes furthers into his anger with its intense accompaniment of loud guitar, drums, and synthesizers in the background as he sings the powerful of chorus of “This isn’t meant to last/This is for right now” as he brings in more grinding guitars and synthesizer tracks.
Help Me I’m In Hell is a short but brooding instrumental track that is spurred by its distorted and crunchy guitar track that is backed by a soft but powerful bass drum track along with atmospheric synthesizer tracks that serves as an intro to the next song which is the powerful Happiness In Slavery.
Happiness In Slavery is a powerful and hard-rock blazing track with lyrics of “Slave screams, he thinks he knows what he wants/Slave screams, he thinks he has something to say/Slave screams, he hears but doesn’t want to listen/Slave screams, he’s being beaten into submission” as industrial-driven drum tracks and ominous synthesizer backgrounds accompany the opening lyrics until quirky bass hooks and soft but pulsating synthesizers accompany the rest of Reznor’s angst-ridden lyrics of “Don’t open your eyes, you won’t like what you see/The devils of truth steal the souls of the free/Don’t open your eyes, take it from me/I have found, you can find, happiness in slavery” as metal-blazing guitars and synthesizers come in as Reznor sings more lyrics of slavery and torture that is followed by a distorted synthesizer and drum tracks along with Reznor’s tortured lyrics of “I don’t know what I am, I don’t know where I’ve been/Human junk, just words and so much skin/Stick my hands thru the cage of this endless routine/Just some flesh caught in this big broken machine” as an ominous keyboard solo comes along with blazing guitars as Reznor screams the word “slavery” in his loud and growling anger.
Gave Up is a powerful and guitar-driven rock track that starts out as a pulsating and throbbing drum machine-inspired track with a soft synthesizer background from future Filter co-founder Brian Liesegang as Reznor sings opening lyrics of despair and anger of “Perfect little dream, the kind that hurts the most/Forgot how it feels, well almost/No one to blame, always the same/Open my eyes, wake up in flames” where then, the song becomes a powerful rocking track as heart-pounding drum tracks from Chris Vrenna and blazing guitars from NIN live guitarist/future Filter leader Richard Patrick come in as the chorus of “It took you, to make me realize/(repeat two more times)/It took you to make me see the light/Smashed up my sanity/Smashed up my integrity/Smashed up what I believed in/Smashed up what’s left of me/Smashed up my everything/Smashed up all that was true/Gonna smash myself to piece/I don’t know what else to do” as the song becomes a pulsating blast of industrial rock as Reznor goes further into his anger and into the chorus again with its blazing guitars and drum tracks as Reznor sings the words of “Throw it away” at the end with full on anger and rage against his former label TVT and its boss Steve Gottlieb.
For the next minute and a half, tracks 7 through 97 are pretty much tracks with no audio but only serves as a gap between the EP’s first six tracks and its last two secret tracks. The first secret track is a cover of the Adam Ant song (You’re So) Physical) that features fast-pumping drum machine tracks as they slow down to accompany Adam Ant’s sexual-driven lyrics of “I wanna take you baby/I wanna take you out/I wanna wine and dine you/Oh I wanna twist and twist and shout/I want you hot in my arms/So soft on my bed/You get the key to my heart/Oh when you wear that sweet dress” as the drums become fast again as Reznor sings the chorus of “But you’re just too physical (physical) to me/You’re just too physical, physical no to me” as the guitars start to get the song into an industrial-driven power while Reznor sings more sexual-laden lyrics by Ant while giving the original post-punk track an industrial metal edge.
The next song Suck is a song originally made by Pigface but Reznor and Pigface leader Martin Atkins wrote the song for the “Gub” album by Pigface. The NIN version features a quirky bass hook accompaniment and pulsating drum machine tracks as Reznor sings dark lyrics of “There is no God up in the sky tonight/No sign of heaven anywhere in sight/All that was true is left behind/Once I could see, now I am blind/Don’t want your dreams you try to sell/This disease I give to myself” and after the first verse, the song goes into a full-tilt rock track of brutal guitars and loud drum tracks as Reznor sings the chorus of “How does it feel/How does it feel/Suck, suck, suck”. The song goes further into the darkness of its lyrics that is followed by its chorus when it is then dominated by a brooding bass and synthesizer background as Reznor sings “I am so dirty, on the inside” for about a few times as the song again goes into its power-driven rock mode to end this incredible album.
When the EP was presented to Interscope, Interscope at first didn’t like the album and felt it would be commercial suicide to release it but the label relented and released it in the fall of 1992. Though there were neither singles nor a lot of promotion (except for its videos that would be explained further in the review for Closure with details about the notorious Broken movie) nor a tour for the EP, Broken was a huge success and it quickly reached into the top ten album charts giving Reznor another platinum album. In late February 1993 just as NIN released the Fixed remix EP, the song Wish won NIN its very first Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance where Reznor joked about the win by putting this on his epitaph: “Reznor. Died. Said ‘Fist F*ck. Won A Grammy”.
In the end, Broken is an essential album from Nine Inch Nails and its widely considered as another favorite among fans. Today, the record is not only one of its more famous EPs in rock n’ roll but one of the 10 Essential Industrial Rock Albums of All-Time by Alternative Press in 2000. Its heavy onslaught of loud guitars, hard-hitting drums, brutal synthesizers, and angry lyrics helped push Broken as one of the best and loudest records in rock today. For those who want a record that isn’t just loud but confrontational, Broken is that record to own.
Pretty Hate Machine/Broken Era (1989-1992): halo 1 - halo 2 - halo 3 - halo 4 - halo 6
The Downward Spiral Era (1994-1997): halo 7 - halo 8 - halo 8 DE - halo 9 - halo 10 - halo 11 - halo 12
The Fragile Era (1999-2002): halo 13 - halo 14 - halo 15.1 - halo 15.2 - halo 15.3 - halo 16 - halo 17 DE - halo 17 DVD
With Teeth/Year Zero Era: halo 18 - halo 19 - halo 20 - halo 21 - halo 22 - halo 23 - halo 24 - halo 25
Ghosts I-IV/The Slip Era (2008): halo 26 - halo 27
Soundtracks/Miscellaneous: (The Crow) - (Natural Born Killers) - (Lost Highway) - (Tomb Raider) - (The Limitless Potential) - (Strobe Light)
Promos: (seed 1) - (seed 2) - (seed 3) - (seed 4) - (seed 5) - (seed 6)
Live Shows: (NIN/Bauhaus/TV on the Radio-6/7/06 Atlanta, GA Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheater) - (NIN/Deerhunter-8/13/08 Duluth, GA Gwinnett Arena) - (NIN/Jane's Addiction/Street Sweeper Social Club-5/10/09 Atlanta, GA Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheater)