1994: The Year in Music
Musician - January/February 1995

Artist of the Year

NINE INCH NAILS

In a music scene increasingly divided between flannel grunge and techno gloss, Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails turned those divisions inside out. A series of records that helped create a groundswell for an industrial sound thatŐs been relegated to the margins of pop since the days of Throbbing Gristle culminated in 1994 with what may be his masterpiece, The Downward Spiral. Sounds at once grating and elegantly textured, songs that tread emotional landscapes from raw carnality to abject pathos, dance rhythms robotic and liberating, the record became a critical and commercial triumph, while his live shows revealed the reticent, handsome Reznor as a galvanizing stage presence. His triumph was ultimately confirmed at Mudstock II, where Nine Inch Nails not only stole the show, but suggested the magic of Jimi Hendrix at Mudstock I, by offering an alluring invitation to a strange new world. By producing a second album, the soundtrack to Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers, only months after The Downward Spiral, Reznor demonstrated his intention to keep pushing at the walls.