By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)
Artist: How to Destroy Angels
Album: An Omen (EP)
Release Date: 11/13/12
Earlier this month, fans of Trent Reznor were treated to new material as his project How to Destroy Angels release their second EP, An Omen. The EP is the follow-up to their self-titled debut EP which was released in 2010. The band has been quiet until recently with this release along with a tour and full-length due next year.
How to Destroy Angels is the electro-pop love-child of Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor, his wife and former West Indian Girl singer Mariqueen Maandig, with long-time studio collaborator Atticus Ross and visual collaborator Rob Sheridan. Although their sound wanders the realm of experimental-electronic, there’s a slick sense of pop sensibility thrown in the mix, due partly to Maandig’s beautifully haunting vocal delivery.
The band recently signed to a major label in order for the music to reach a mass audience, despite Reznor having had a very public dismissal of major record labels in the press in recent years.
Regarding How to Destroy Angels signing a deal, Reznor recently explained, “The main reason I do what I do is I want to do something that matters. I want to be able to create art that reaches the maximum amount of people on my terms … That was a key component … Because it came down to us — us being the band now — sitting around and identifying what our goals were. And the top priority wasn’t to make money. It was to try to reach the most amount of people, and try to reach the most amount of people effectively, that doesn’t feel like it’s coming completely from my backyard. Because I don’t want this project, ultimately, to just be dismissed as a ‘side project’ or … a ‘patronizing affair with Trent and his wife.’ Sounds terrible, you know?”
An Omen is a six-track peek of what the band have been up to and a hint of what’s to come with next year’s full length. It opens with the lead single “Keep It Together,” a haunting mid-tempo electronic song which reels you. From there, the somewhat folky “Ice Age” appears but in its seven minutes, never really seems to peak. The next two tracks, “On the Wing” and “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters,” begin to pick up sonically, with pulsating electronic beats and more haunting vocals. Finally, the EP concludes with its two best tracks, “The Loop Closes” and “Speaking In Tongues.”
All in all, An Omen is certainly a good listen. However, it doesn’t seem to stand out as much as the previous EP does. The songs on here are more airy and slow, with a creepy electronic undertone slowly driving you along, unlike the previous effort, which was at times more up-tempo and menacing. Although, Trent Reznor often has a knack for creeping up on his listeners. Either his material grabs you right away (Pretty Hate Machine, The Downward Spiral) or slowly takes it’s time to settle into your psyche (The Fragile, Ghosts I-IV).
The material has only been out for a while, and is a small sample of a larger piece, so it’s possible I could be jumping the gun. Don’t get me wrong, it is by no means bad, it’s actually very well written and even catchy at moments. But I feel that it doesn’t quite stand up to their debut. Is it worth a listen? It’s absolutely more than that, it’s a really good piece of music.