In case you’ve been living under a rock, How to Destroy Angels is a new project by Trent Reznor, Mariqueen Maandig and Atticus Ross. They released their first video for the song The Space in Between via Pitchfork.com a couple of weeks ago and they just released their first 6-song EP digitally today (June 1).
The distribution model deserves noting. The band has released the EP entirely on their own and the EP is free for 320 kbps mp3s. That’s pretty good quality and more than sufficient for most people. If you’re an audiophile and you’d like the EP in CD or lossless quality, then you can upgrade for $2 and you get your choice of lossless format and the 320 kbps mp3 version. Of course, I upgraded, but not so much for the increased quality but more on principle. I like what Trent has been doing with distribution and marketing since Year Zero and I’m willing to send the band a couple bucks to say thanks.
The standout track for me is “The Space in Between”. I should note that while I really like the song, others are doing similar things better (Collide immediately comes to mind). “Fur Lined” reminds me a bit of NIN’s “Only” with it’s almost disco sounding bassline and drum beat. “BBB” sounds like what you’d get if Peaches and NIN collaborated, except without Peaches’ edge. The line “Listen to the sound of my big black boots” is repeated throughout the song doesn’t carry as much punch as it should – it just falls flat. “The Believers” has an interesting tribal sort of beat that develops into something you might hear out of an Atari 2600, which is no small feat. And finally “A Drowning”. It should be a slow and moody song, but it feels like it’s missing the moody. And as I complete the second full listen and write this review, I’ve come to the conclusion that Maandig’s vocals just aren’t all that interesting. I’d like to see her broaden her dynamic range and really put herself out there because I do think she has a cool voice.
Overall, I think the project shows promise, but at this point, it just sounds like NIN with female vocals and there’s nothing especially new and interesting. Of course, that’s after only two full listens. Perhaps I haven’t given the EP enough listens to give a fair review. I do look forward to hearing more as the project develops and morphs (the project is quite young, after all), but I don’t think it’s quite there yet.