Last week, Nine Inch Nails announced a new record called Bad Witch. Although it seems to be the third and final installment in the planned trilogy of EPs that began with 2016’s Not The Actual Events and also includes last year’s ADD VIOLENCE, Bad Witch also seems to be a full album and not an EP. It’s listed as an LP on NIN’s website and Trent Reznor is referring to it as an LP in interviews, although somewhat confusingly, it’s only six songs long, which is more EP-length. Maybe they’re very long songs?
However you want to classify Bad Witch, Reznor and company have just shared its first single. “God Break Down The Door” — which, at a little over four minutes, does not qualify as a very long song — is driven by a frenetic drumbeat, cyberpunk synth squiggles, and a haunting saxophone. More than anything, it sounds like David Bowie’s Blackstar, and Reznor seems to be trying out a sort of Bowie-inspired vibrato-filled croon with his vocals, too.
Reznor toured with Bowie and starred in his “I’m Afraid Of Americans” music video. He penned a moving eulogy upon his passing in 2016. He anonymously released a remix of the Blackstar track “I Can’t Give Everything Away” and then performed it at his first live show in three years. If “God Break Down The Door” is intended as an homage to Reznor’s late friend and collaborator, it’s an effective one. But even if it’s not, it represents an interesting new direction for Nine Inch Nails, and you can listen to it for yourself below.
This is what Reznor had to say about the song in an interview with Zane Lowe on Beats 1 today:
We find if we don’t watch ourselves we tend to try to get some more comfortable with because it feels better. And from the sound of the drums to the kind of frantic drumbeat to looking around the studio and seeing the untouched baritone tenor and alto sax that are sitting there. They’re there because they remind me that I can’t play them as well as I used to be able to. For 20 years, I’ve been saying I’m going of really get my technique back because it would be fun to do. And there they sit taunting me in the corner. We pulled them out and we just started fucking around really, led with Atticus arranging. I was just kind of going, an hour performance kind of turned into this thing that felt like we hadn’t been there before and that started to reveal a whole different character. The space changed and then we felt motivated. When it came time to sing I was really just trying things out, just to see. I never had the courage to sing like that, I didn’t know I could sing.
Bad Witch is out 6/22 on Capitol Records. Pre-order it here.