While the scale of the COVID-19 crisis gets more worryingly apparent by the day, bands are having to think on their feet to find a way to give something back to their fans.
It appears industrial metal giants Nine Inch Nails have done that and then some, with not one but two full-length albums arriving and both of them being offered for free; the first being ‘Ghosts V: Together’.
As fans will know from the title, this body of work is a continuation from 2008’s ‘Ghosts I-IV’, and keeps in line with the many soundtrack albums that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have written in recent years, so it’s best not to expect anything like ‘The Hand That Feeds’ or ‘Closer’ to appear on here. With the band’s output being very prolific in recent years, it’s clear that Nine Inch Nails aren’t intending to slow down, with Reznor and Ross embracing their elder-statesmen role.
‘Letting Go While Holding On’ sets the scene. Heavily rooted in minimalism, you’ll have to let this wrap itself around you. But what this manages to do really well is invoke a mood, with vocal effects and other sounds acting as hanging, looming notes over the washy synth accompaniment. There’s something of a warmness to this one.
Tracks like ‘With Faith’ are a little more on the tense side of things, but where this release largely succeeds is when it leans on more evocative, emotive territory, such as in ‘Together’. ‘Apart’ is another reflective highlight, with the piano taking the lead for most of this, and the shimmering synths in the background really adding to the experience. It’s on the long side, for sure, but it definitely succeeds in its mission statement.
‘Your Touch’ also manages to be poignant even when it features some off-kilter synth work, and ‘Hope We Can Again’ is also strongest at bringing cinematic qualities to the fore.
There’s absolutely no doubting the intentions of this album, but with much of the musical canvas being very sparse, it’s easy to find yourself switching off. Even some of the most die-hard devotees will have to dig deeper.
But ‘Still Right Here’ offers a real stand-out moment, with a guitar riff and an IDM backbeat suddenly coming in half-way through that will certainly grab the attention of some. But there’s no grand finish, as a wave of soundscapes and a piano sequence gradually close things out, slowly moving things away into the distance.
Even for people who like their music long and drawn out, this may still be a challenge, but the restrained nature of ‘Ghosts V: Together’ will serve as a great way to put some minds at ease.