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Design By Humans
Published On: Fri, May 31st, 2013

How To Destroy Angels: Welcome Oblivion

HTDAHow To Destroy Angels
Welcome Oblivion
(Columbia)

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I’ll preface this by saying that How to Destroy Angels’ 2012 EP, An Omen, was all too cleverly titled. The short-player contained six songs, all of which are present on the NIN-offshoot band’s 13-song full-length debut, Welcome Oblivion. I won’t say I feel cheated (it doesn’t detract from the quality of the music), but that essentially leaves us with another EP’s-length of actual new music here.

Welcome Oblivion stays much inline with what you’d expect from Trent Reznor in recent years: glitchy, expertly manipulated electronics and subdued violence. Vocalist Mariqueen Maandig sings in a soft, hushed tone, such that it doesn’t exactly sound all too distinct in the electronic-music-with-female-vocals pantheon. Reznor’s vocal turns mostly involve his menacing whisper.

There is an altogether ambient overtone here; even the noisy bits are unobtrusive enough to be played in the background. This is not a bad thing, but it’s not always riveting either.

That said, Reznor and co. are masters at crafting soundscapes no one else can touch, especially when it comes to messing with acoustic instruments, as on “Ice Age” and “The Loop Closes.” The left-field surprise of “How Long?” and it’s big vocal refrain of the titular question is a bit of a show-stopper, sounding at times like a long-lost new wave classic. Looks like Reznor can still craft a nice pop song.
HTDA may not be the most ground-breaking thing you’re likely to hear in the electronic realm, but it proves that Reznor and co. still have a solid creative spark, and it’s unlikely fans of his won’t find something to like here.

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How To Destroy Angels: Welcome Oblivion