Sound — 10
With Teeth is a progression (as it should be) from the lush soundscapes evident throughout The Fragile or the harsh mechanical grindings present on The Downward Spiral. It is a new direction with a fantastic new sound, yet it is easy to pick out pieces influenced by earlier NIN recordings. A variety of familiar sounds are used from Pretty Hate Machine (The Hand That Feeds, Only), The Downward Spiral (The Collector, Every Day Is Exactly The Same, Sunspots), and The Fragile era (The Line Begins To Blur, Right Where It Belongs). As with all subsequent albums, there has been new sounds and manipulated old sounds. Reznor insists there was a minimilist mindset during the recording of With Teeth, but even when he isn't pulling every new trick out of his sleeve, the production on a Nine Inch Nails album is miles above that of your average record in 2005.
Lyrics — 10
First of all, Trent shows vocal range on With Teeth that he has never come near before. He sounds fantastic here. As for the lyrics themselves, sadly, I've seen many reviews that come off with a feel that Trent has really lost touch with the writer he was in 1994. They couldn't be more wrong. In this day and age of internet anonymity, we are presented with hipster reviewers that are too cool to believe that an artist like Trent Reznor has progressed in his songwriting, and no longer feels all the anger that he once did. Take a song like "You Know What You Are?" Reviewers are saying things like "Reznor is just about to turn 40-years-old and he is still whining and hates the world, and we see this when he uses lyrics like: "You can't change anything/don't you f--king know what you are?" When unfortunately these reviewers are too worried about looking cool to their peers, so they write them off as angry, adolescent lyrics. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that when Reznor screams "don't you fucking know what you are?" that he is only looking in the mirror and questioning himself. Another example, is "Only." Reznor is oh-so-angry at the world because he said "there is no you, there is only me." They write him off as being self-centered. Once again, the "you" theme that is present on With Teeth is only Reznor talking about his old self. It truly upsets me that With Teeth is one of the most inspiring and uplifting lyrical works of our generation, and many of this hipsters will never see that. They choose not to view Reznor's lyrics as a self commentary because it is too challenging. There couldn't possibly be a way that people lie to themselves or fake their own lives. That would just be too devastating. Why look deeper for the truth, when you could just sweep it under the rug, right? Unfortunate. Many reviewers also seem to carry the opinion that once you turn 30-years-old, you're not allowed to get angry anymore. You're not a teenager so the world is a wonderful place and if you happen to let out a scream or complaint. Well, you're just acting juvenile. Give me a break. Reznor gets full marks on lyrics because he is honest enough with himself to speak the truth and say what others are afraid to admit. He may be content with himself now that he's cleaned up, but, like anyone who has achieved victory and overcame something, they went through struggles. Thank you for writing truly honest lyrics, Trent.
Overall Impression — 10
With Teeth is as good as any Nine Inch Nails album before it. His songwriting seems more in tune with the innocence and vulnurability on Pretty Hate Machine, while the sound itself borrows from every era. The music may be easier to grasp this time around, "accessable" if you will, but that hardly means that the overall appeal will wear off quickly. Over time, when people have had some time to really sit down and think about the words and themes present on With Teeth, it will hopefully be appreciated for the beautiful work of art that it is.