The Playlist, 13th June 2014

Here’s a selection of the music currently terrorising the turntables here at Skin Back Alley. Just click on the album covers to find out more…

Reptilian Death - DofCandE   Nikki Lane AorN

Arch Enemy Death Angel HellYeah BforB Nine Inch Nails

Of course, if you have any music that you’re dying to tell us about, just let us know via our contact page!

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Soundgarden confirmed as opening for Nine Inch Nails

Soundgarden 2014

Soundgarden have confirmed that they will be opening for Nine Inch Nails on the bands’ upcoming US co-headline tour.

Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil has said that he believes the running order makes perfect sense.

Speaking to DC101, Thayil said: “It makes sense. Nine Inch Nails is a production-heavy band – amazing lights, lasers. They use a lot of production both in the audio performance and the visual performance.

“We’re more of a live rock act. If we were to play after them it would be a long wait while they struck all their gear and cleared the stage for us. It’s a lot easier to play before them.”

The two bands recently confirmed a series of North American shows together, beginning in Las Vegas on the 19th of July and culminating in Hollywood on the 25th of August.

Speaking to The Pulse Of Radio, Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell confirmed that he expects the band to start work on a new album soon, too.

“We’re definitely going to start writing songs; we’ve all agreed on several occasions that we want to keep doing it,” he said.

“It goes from zero to 60 really fast. All of a sudden everyone will have two things – and that’s eight songs you have to work on. Already you’re well into making an album. That could happen tomorrow.”

Nine Inch Nails recently finished a series of live dates in the UK and are now playing further shows in Europe. You can read Skin Back Alley’s review of their 25th May show at the Manchester Phones4U Area here.

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Live Review: Nine Inch Nails, Manchester Arena, 25th May 2014

NIN 002

Nine Inch Nails’ music has always seemed like the soundtrack to a dystopian nightmare world full of pre and post-millenial angst, the ‘sturm und drang’ of a failing global economy based on a model of mass production, and the sinister and quiet creep of the oncoming digital age.

Perhaps with the exception of the original master of Pretty Hate Machine, which has the unmistakable sound of it’s late 80’s inception, all of Trent Reznor’s albums as NIN sound timeless, and every single one of them remains prescient, challenging and highly relevant.

Before this leg of NIN’s tour began, naysayers were being needlessly critical of Reznor’s decision to play the larger arenas of the world. Why would an ‘alternative’ industrial rock band play venues associated with a mindset of corporate capitalism; atmosphere-free domes more suited to sporting events?

Clearly those naysayers have never been to a Nine Inch Nails arena performance.

Reznor had promised that NIN’s aim with these dates was to deliver a more “low key” and “agressive” show with just a four piece band, rather than the more elaborate eight piece band that had been exploring new material from the Hesitation Marks album during previous dates. And that’s precisely what he and his band mates do at the Phones4U Arena in Manchester.

NIN 005From the opening one-two of “Me I’m Not” and “Copy of A”, the 20 song show doesn’t let up across a career spanning set incorporating material from the entirety of the band’s 25 year history. In fact, just four songs from last year’s new album make an appearance.

The sheer size of “1,000,000”, “Letting You”, “March of the Pigs” and “Piggy” carry the show forward on the strength of their enormous shoulders, each and every song filling the cavernous arena and whipping the thousands strong crowd into a frenzy. The songs are accompanied by a spectacular visual installation, including an impressive lighting rig and a rear screen for video projection that lowers and raises at strategic points to meet the demands of each piece of music.

The stage proves to be a dynamic entity then, and one that allows Reznor and his crack team of multi-instrumentalists to navigate it at will as it expands and contracts. Ilan Rubin proves an astonishing and powerful force behind the live acoustic drum kit as it appears for those songs that require it’s presence, and both Alessandro Cortini and Robin Finck seem as adept at keyboards and electronics as they do at their respective six stringers.

Music from the band’s extensive back catalogue continues unabated until mid-way through the set when The Downward Spiral classic “Closer” makes it’s appearance. The assembled throng sing along to the now notorious lyrics, prompting Trent Reznor’s only between-song banter of the hour and three-quarters the band play. “Thank you”, he says succinctly.

Manchester is then treated to a Hesitation Marks trilogy, with “Find My Way”, “Disappointed” and “Came Back Haunted” following each other, one after the other. Despite the new album’s laser focus on electronics over guitars, the new songs are greeted with rapture, feel just as powerful as their predecessors, and don’t seem at all out of place in the running order.

NIN 004It’s clear that the show’s sound engineers have done their job extremely well, too, as the quality of the sound within the arena is remarkably strong, helping the batch of songs that follow build upon the palpable atmosphere of excitement and reverie, and nail shut the coffin on those pre-tour cranks. “How do you take a big place designed for sports shows and find a way to turn it into something intimate and interesting?”, asked Reznor when these tour dates were announced. “That’s a question we’re constantly trying to deal with. And, I think we’re quite successful at it right now.” On this show’s evidence, damn straight they are.

Reznor’s assertion is a view that doesn’t fade as the concert builds to the final song of the main set, debut album Pretty Hate Machine’s colossal “Head Like A Hole.” It’s five minutes of relentless energy assault the crowd in the best possible way, leaving one gig-goer audibly screaming her love for the band and pleading for more. Nine Inch Nails’ logo is now writ large on the stage’s screen, signalling the end of proceedings. But the fact that the house lights don’t yet come up is telling.

Just a few minutes later, the arena is bathed in golden light, the band silhouetted against a firey backdrop projected on to the screen behind them. The brooding menace of “The Day The World Went Away” builds in the arena’s PA, and the audience are once again vocal in their appreciation and applause.

The only question that remains then, is “Will they or won’t they?” The answer is that they will, and against a rear projection of poisonous reptiles, predatory insects and the horrors of war inflicted upon the human race by our own kind, Reznor and Co. work through a quietly tense, powerful and moving rendition of “Hurt.”

If there is a band in the world more capable than Nine Inch Nails of taking a venue the size of the Phones4U Arena, and filling every inch of it with the overwhelming force and emotional power of their music, then we are yet to find them. Their newly stripped back set-up is at once visually arresting, sonically staggering and, as yet, unmatched. The show is another fine example of why Trent Reznor’s music has endured for a quarter of a century, and will no doubt endure for a considerable time to come.

NIN 003

Nine Inch Nails played:
“Me, I’m Not”
“Copy of A”
“Letting You”
“March of the Pigs”
“Gave Up”
“Sanctified” (with Sunspots riff)
“Find My Way”
“Came Back Haunted”
“The Great Destroyer”
“The Hand That Feeds”
“Head Like a Hole”

“The Day the World Went Away”

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Watch Nine Inch Nails “Closure Part One: Self Destruct” documentary

As Nine Inch Nails extensive European tour continues, come and watch their 1997 documentary “Closure Part One: Self Destruct” below, recorded between 1994 and 1997 and recently posted to the band’s Vimeo account.

Nine Inch Nails: “Closure” part one: Self Destruct (1997) from Nine Inch Nails on Vimeo.

NIN play the following European dates throughout May and June, before embarking on a series of US dates in July and August with Soundgarden:

15th May: Berlin, Zitadelle
16th May: Luxembourg, Rockhal
18th May: Birmingham, LG Arena
20th May: Glasgow, Hydro Arena
21st May: Cardiff, Motorpoint Arena
23rd May: London, O2 Arena
24th May: Nottingham, Capital FM Arena
25th May: Manchester, Phones 4u Arena
27th May: Amsterdam, Heineken Music Hall
28th May: Antwerp, Lotto Arena
29th May: Paris, Le Zenith
29th – 31st May: Barcelona, Primavera Sound Festival
1st Jun: Toulouse, Le Zenith
3rd Jun: Bologna, Unipol Arena
4th Jun: Zurich, Hallenstadion
5th – 8th Jun: Nurburgring, Rock am Ring Festival
6th – 9th Jun: Nurburg, Rock im Park Festival
9th Jun: Vienna, Stadthalle
10th Jun: Katowice, Spodek
11th Jun: Prague, The Forum

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Soundgarden stream ‘Black Hole Sun’ demo

Soundgarden 2014

Soundgarden are streaming the demo version of track ‘Black Hole Sun’ from their Superunknown album.

The song is streaming ahead of the deluxe re-issue of Superunknown this summer – it’s 20th anniversary.

Soundgarden will play Barclaycard British Summer Time in London’s Hyde Park on July 4, alongside Black Sabbath, Wolfmother, Faith No More, Motörhead, Soulfly, Gallows and Rise To Remain. They will then join Nine Inch Nails on a joint US tour, heading out on 23 dates in July and August. The tour begins in Las Vegas on July 19th, ending at the Hollywood Bowl on August 25th. Sacramento hip-hop group, Death Grips, will provide support for the two bands on all but two of the dates.

Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails both released key albums on the same date in 1994. Superunknown was Soundgarden’s fourth album, whilst Nine Inch Nails released sophomore LP The Downward Spiral on the same day. Both have since gone on to become highly regarded key works in the two bands’ careers.

You can stream the demo version of Soundgarden’s ‘Black Hole Sun’ below.

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