Sound — 9
Trent Reznor put a recognizable face on industrial music, which tried to sound mechanical. Reznor practically pioneered the Industrial genre with his first CDs. Many people immediatly dismiss The Downward Spiral because it is so aggressive and depressive, and rightly so. This album is revolutionary, but not exactly excellent music. It is a complete hit or miss CD, and music genre also. Music is amazing, especially the loops, lyrics are a bit of a drag.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are more poetry than song lyrics. And I don't mean big rhyming poems, they are exactly like "goth poetry" describing hate, pain, and death. Even though I don't think the lyrics are exactly enjoyable, since they do concern death, rape, killing, God, and all that good stuff, they certainly deserve attention for being different and unique. Hurt, Reznor's superhit, you can't mention Nine Inch Nails without Hurt. Hurt is a phenomenal piece of writing, as well as a phenomenal song. This song alone pays for 11.99 (or whatever the CD costs) alone. Trent isn't a very good singer at this point in time, but it only helps the mood of the songs, matching the music much better.
Overall Impression — 10
Incredible album, good lyrics, very solid musical piece overall. The album as a whole is great, but some individual songs are weak if they are not listened to as a concept album. Hurt, Closer, and Reptile are big hits. I recommend the new special edition, with 2 disks, both 5.1 SACD, sounds great. I would buy the special edition again, but probably not the regular CD.