Welcome Oblivion review by How to Destroy Angels

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  • Released: Mar 5, 2013
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.5 (37 votes)
How to Destroy Angels: Welcome Oblivion
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Sound — 9
I have been a NIN fan since I was 12 or 13 years old, and also a fan of pretty much everything else that Trent Reznor has been involved with. When I first heard about How To Destroy Angels, I was very excited and I got my hands on the self-titled EP. I listened to it repeatedly, and then got the "An Omen" EP as soon as it was available. Needless to say, I was waiting for the release of "Welcome Oblivion" with as much patience as I could muster. The people I've talked to about How To Destroy Angels keep wanting to compare it to NIN but this is a different animal. You can definitely hear Trent Reznor's hand in the compositions and he does provide occasional back up vocals, but this is a group effort by the members and they each bring something to the mix. There are 13 tracks on the album, with a total run-time of over 65 minutes. The vinyl version contains two additional bonus tracks. The other members of the band are Mariqueen Maandig (Trent's wife and previous vocalist of the band West Indian Girl), Atticus Ross (best known for his movie soundtrack work), and Rob Sheridan (NIN's art director, and also acting art director for How To Destroy Angels). Alessandro Cortini (previously worked with NIN) co-wrote and performed on the track "We Fade Away", but is not a member of the band. Okay, I know that 3 out of 4 of the new members have been involved with NIN, so maybe this project sounds a little bit like NIN. I find myself hard pressed to describe the sound of the album, except to say it is obvious that Trent Reznor has continued to hone his craft over the years, and has been great at picking collaborators. Wikipedia lists the album as "post-industrial" and I guess that title is as appropriate as any other. People sometimes say that electronic music is "soulless" but projects like this prove that electronic music can be a valid and expressive form of music (there just happens to be a lot of really horrible bands in the electronic genres mixed in with the good ones). Something you will find different from a lot of the material released by NIN, there is occasionally a more positive vibe conveyed in the songs which isn't really something that NIN was known for.

Lyrics — 8
Mariqueen's vocals have a haunting breathy quality that works great with this genre of music, giving it just the right creepy factor. Trent's vocals which I'm hard pressed to say whether he is "co-vocalist" or "backup vocalist", are also well-suited to the music. For those familiar with Mariqueen's previous career with the alternative rock band, West Indian Girl, her vocal delivery is much different on all of this album. The difference being that with the band West Indian Girl she sounded like she was competing vocally with co-vocalist Robert James to be the lead vocalist, while with How To Destroy Angels even when singing WITH Trent their vocals don't seem to be at odds with each other at all. Here are some lyrics from the track "Too Late, All Gone": "Stuck on static/ automatic/ turn off tragic/ mother magic/ too late, all gone/ interferon/ I can't move on/ keep on, keep on/ parasitic/ just a pinprick/ cancer conflict/ cataclysmic/ engage, dismiss/ close call, near miss/ I can't take this/ I can't take this/ The more we change/ Everything stays the same/ The more we change/ Everything stays the same/ The more we change/ Everything stays the same/ Christmas crushes/ baby blushes/ seedling ashes/ moment passes/ listen, regret/ we do forget/ special effect/ same old, same shit/ scraping, killing/ shredding you/ coming, repeating/ lack of feeling/ no sick, no cure/ get down on all fours/ make up, make sure/ go on, get dressed". Kind of a word association thing going on there with the lyrics, but somehow while listening to the song it feels really powerful.

Overall Impression — 8
To me, the projects that Trent Reznor has been involved in have been the perfect examples of electronic music done right. I have absolutely loved this album from start to finish, and have it on heavy rotation on my mp3 player. When you listen to electronic music you are talking about people using samples and synths to create rhythms and melodies... Sure, they tweak the sounds a little bit... But what is done on this album is like a finely crafted piece of sonic art. To start with, they use the perfect balance of electronic and real instrumentation. The compositions are well constructed and serve a function besides just taking up a few minutes of time. At first listen the song "Ice Age" was probably my least favorite song on the album, but after a few listens it has really grown on me. The other songs on the album I had taken to immediately. So, my favorite song on the album is "Ice Age", but coming in close behind it is "How Long?" and "Hallowed Ground". This is a really solid album to be the freshman full length release, and I find myself waiting eagerly for what they will release in the future.

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47 comments sorted by best / new / date

    rabidgoon
    when a review starts by stating "I have been a NIN fan since I was 12 or 13 years old" I know not to take it seriously.
    katalyzt13
    What's wrong with being a fan of NIN?
    Gerard Way Jr
    Nothing whatsoever; it's the quality of the review. "I've been a fan since 12 or 13" is a pretty lame way to start out - Roger Ebert certainly doesn't take an approach anywhere close to lameass personal reminiscence.
    onealsm
    Stating that you are a NIN fan establishes bias, a big no-no for reviewers.
    katalyzt13
    I'm not sure I agree with that. Any fan of music reviewing music is coming at it with some type of bias for or against most of the time. By stating you like or dislike a band or musician's previous work you are more letting the audience know where you're coming from.
    katalyzt13
    I'm not sure I agree with that. Any fan of music reviewing music is coming at it with some type of bias for or against most of the time. By stating you like or dislike a band or musician's previous work you are more letting the audience know where you're coming from.
    Gerard Way Jr
    There's no sin in liking it, but stating an overall opinion at the beginning of a review does give off a hint of bias - whether it's intentional or hurtful or not is irrelevant. It's just not a great way to start.
    lemmon182
    I read your My Chemical Romance review. A bit rich of you to say "stating an overall opinion at the beginning of a review does give off a hint of bias" with your username being that of the singer? Get off your high horse
    lemmon182
    Gerard Way Jr, I read your My Chemical Romance review. A bit rich of you to say "stating an overall opinion at the beginning of a review does give off a hint of bias". Your username is that of the singer of MCR, and you're talking about bias? Get off your high horse
    Gerard Way Jr
    Did you notice the date on the review? Quite old, isn't it? Not to mention that the name of my account is ancient, and that UG names are permanent? Unless you refer to the recent Conventional Weapons review - I awarded it 6.7/10, as I recall. Biased, you say? 6.7/10? Your point is no more valid in three comments than in one. You can excuse yourself now, and pray to God I never catch you reviewing blink-182.
    lemmon182
    Gerard Way Jr, I read your My Chemical Romance review. A bit rich of you to say "stating an overall opinion at the beginning of a review does give off a hint of bias". your username is that of the singer of MCR, and you're talking about bias? Get off your high horse
    bassthunder
    Roger Ebert is probably not the best person to cite as a credible critic. Apart from his "video games can't be art" comment, he's written some pretty poor reviews the past few years (calling Avatar good sci-fi, thinking Kick-Ass was supposed to be a kid's movie)
    Gerard Way Jr
    Regardless of whether all of the man's opinions are solid or not, he's a recognized and award-winning writer. Poor reviews in the last few years? Does the fact alone eliminate either of these facts? Honestly, who cares what he thinks of video games? He is still recognized, is still a fine critic, and in this context, a fine citation. Who would you rather I cite? I doubt they begin reviews with "I've been a fan of NIN since I was 12 or 13."
    Pukka-VCU
    People sure like to bitch about shit on here. Solid review, loved the album (and the previous two EPs). Would love to see them in a live setting.
    TheBigRobboUniq
    I had to join this website just to say how goddam overrated Trent Reznor is, end of bloody story
    RegularMexicola
    Just because you don't like him does not mean he's overrated. And to join a website just to voice blunt criticism about someone you've never met is rather weak. Get over yourself.
    Gerard Way Jr
    Taking the time out to voice blunt criticism about someone you've never met *is* rather weak. So stop doing it. Reznor *is* overrated; he's phenomenal, to be sure, but those who truly think he can do no wrong are absolutely blind.
    Jinzu
    So how would you rate the album?
    Gerard Way Jr
    Haven't heard; the review didn't encourage or discourage me from listening since it essentially said nothing. If it's anything like the EP, I'm sure it's as sterile as anything else Reznor's created this decade.
    Gerard Way Jr
    UG Staff reviews are getting pretty lame.
    Gerard Way Jr
    Team*, whatever.
    Gerard Way Jr
    >Reviewer makes 4 accounts to thumb down comment
    nbzeppelin
    Stop
    iCarebear
    shut it 14y'old.
    Gerard Way Jr
    >shut it 14y'old >is barely seventeen and has personal home address on profile for questionable purposes
    defluxtor
    hOW TO DESTROY ANGELS - is that not the name of a release by COIL ? One of the best "bands" of the industrial age !! Their soundtrack to Carpenter's HELLRAISER apparently was knocked back for being TOO scary and is a great slab of unnerving creepiness.
    EyesWideOpen
    Are you referring to the movie Hellraiser? If so it was Clive Barker who wrote and directed that, not John Carpenter.
    defluxtor
    Thanks for that clarification EWO it's been a few years since I listened to any COIL as it is all on tape or vinyl.
    biff022
    Ice Age is a beast. First album/ep whatever was solid. Reznor can do no wrong, except for that "I'm Afraid of Americans" song with Bowie. Could've done without that.