Artist: How To Destroy Angels
Title: An Omen EP
Genre: Experimental/ Ambient/ Soundtrack
Release Date: 13th November 2012
Label: Columbia Records
When Trent Reznor put his world-famous NINE INCH NAILS to a rest, he started a new adventure with the project HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS, which also features his wife Mariqueen Maandig and long-time collaborator Atticus Ross. HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS just released their latest EP ‘An Omen’, which is actually their first release signed to Columbia Records. While Trent Reznor redeemed the end of NINE INCH NAILS and announced forthcoming activities both live and in studio under this moniker, he releases an EP with the follow-up project to NIN. ‘An Omen’ is the title, and it offers six brand new HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS tracks available as download and on 12” vinyl. Yes, there won't be a CD release but for this release, Reznor, his wife Mariqueen Maandig, Atticus Ross and art director Rob Sheridan are backed up by the power of global distributor Columbia Records.
After contributing to the soundtrack of David Fincher's film “The Social Network”, HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS continue their path where it started with 2010's self-titled and self-distributed debut album. The music is still dark and haunting and Maandig's vocals grant a somehow sexy and erotic vibe to the intimate music. As usual for HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS, Reznor leaves the lead vocals entirely to his wife but every now and then you can hear him doing backup vocals. Perhaps it is inevitable that there's some sort of NIN feel all over the record when Trent Reznor is involved but if at all it is NIN's more ambient and experimental side rather than the rocky one. And with the ‘An Omen EP’, HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS manage to sound more unique and independent from the behemoth that is NINE INCH NAILS than on their debut album.
The EP starts with the track 'Keep It Together' has been released in October as a download-only single, completed by a video clip. The throbbing, menacing synth bass delivers the haunting setting for the two vocalists of the band, the pretty slow song crawls into your mind and is rather spooky and quite sweet at the same time. The second song, 'Ice Age', is easily the most organic sounding track of the EP and probably poppier than the actual lead single. No surprise that this song was ennobled with yet another music video, directed by John Hillcoat. Talking of Pop, you certainly have to use this word very carefully here! HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS avoid typical song structures and outworn Pop patterns, the emphasis is rather on atmospheres and details, slowly pulsating beats and clunking synths. After all HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS never leave their dark and eerie terrain, and the second half even gets a bit more experimental than the first one.
'The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters', named after a nightmarish self-portrait by Spanish artist Francisco Goya, is a not too obvious highlight of the EP. Drowned in reverb and with a ghost-like quality, it sounds almost like a part of a movie score but it definitely has a weird beauty to it. With 'The Loop Closes' HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS sound a bit closer to NINE INCH NAILS (sorry, the name is impossible to avoid when Reznor is involved) than on the rest of the EP. But again it's rather the rather experimental and moody side of NIN, circa 'the Fragile' era. Bleeps, clanging synths, distorted piano sounds and echoing guitar sounds dominate the track, and while there are very little lyrics here it's the only track where Reznor's voice is mixed more to the front than Mariqueen Maandig's. The EP ends with the 7-minute track 'Speaking In Tongues', again a down-tempo song which features tribal percussions and droning didgeridoo sounds.
The 'An Omen' EP is a pretty spooky ride you will wanna listen to alone in your room with the lights out and candles on. Despite all the darkness and weirdness the music also has dream-like quality which makes it much more accessible than you might think if you consider the unorthodox approach of the musicians.
01. Keep It Together - 4:29
02. Ice Age - 6:59
03. On The Wing - 4:53
04. The Sleep Of Reason Produces Monsters - 4:29
05. The Loop Closes - 4:48
06. Speaking In Tongues - 6:58
Mariqueen Maandig - lead vocals, swarmatron, keyboard
Trent Reznor - guitar, backing vocals, keyboard
Atticus Ross - bass and synthesizer
Rob Sheridan - art direction
Total: 9 / 10