Into the Never: Nine Inch Nails and the Creation of Downward Spiral

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available now.

Full of information, speculation, and a fair amount of geeking out, this book nonetheless failed to keep my attention. Pretty much everyone over a certain age knows who Nine Inch Nails is. It was one of my “angry” go-to bands for the longest time, and I still listen to their music on a semi-regular basis. Whether it’s your cup of tea or not, I think everyone can agree that NIN did things with music that hadn’t been done before. The subject of the book is an interesting one.

Author Adam Stein went deep down the proverbial rabbit hole with this book. He pulled out quotes from years ago, found new points of view, and dug up information that painted an introspective and profound picture of Trent Reznor (founder and singer of NIN) and his emotional state when Downward Spiral was being created. He also waxed enthusiastic over NIN and every move made by Reznor. That enthusiasm made the book much more relatable. It’s difficult to be interested in a subject that the author cares nothing about, so his interest made this book fascinating.

Unlike many such books, Into the Never focused on the artist through the lens of his art, instead of the other way around. The author took a very song-by-song breakdown approach toward the latter half of the book, and made connections that I certainly wouldn’t have known to make. Reznor’s thoughts on faith, religion, and the human condition were both fascinating and sometimes unsettling. While I personally don’t agree much with Reznor’s viewpoints, it was engrossing to read them.

Unfortunately, about halfway through, the author’s extreme love of NIN became a little grating. I felt that the author’s enthusiasm started to cloud the point of the book a little bit. It would be that way with anything written by an extreme fan, though. There’s that moment where it becomes a bit much for “normal people” (aka, people who don’t have driving obsessions). For example, you don’t want to discuss Firefly with me unless you’ve cleared your schedule because I’ll go from Firefly to the actors’ continued careers, and segue into the epicacity (I’m over here making up words now) of Nathan Fillion’s mustache. See? There’s always that point where the excitement needs to be reined in, or at least given direction.

I have a feeling that I would have enjoyed this book much more if I’d taken longer to read it, maybe even putting it down to read something cheerful in-between parts. It’s interesting, but also a bit too much at times. It started out strong and I wanted to love it, but this book ends up getting something closer to a “meh” from me.

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