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Nine Inch Nails

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Industrial's early-90s breach of the mainstream introduced a child of darkness and a child of light: Al Jourgensen, whose sadism eventually collapsed in on itself like a black hole, and Trent Reznor, whose cold-glow masochism sometimes approaches a truly transcendent self-abjection. When Pretty Hate Machine broke, I was more than a little skeptical of Reznor's injured-adolescent poetics, and his forays into thrash seemed to echo the wrong turn Ministry made after The Land of Rape and Honey. But on 1994's The Downward Spiral he balanced synthetic and six-string fury, and he made me a believer--especially with "Closer," the greatest Skinny Puppy song Skinny Puppy never wrote. And any remaining doubts regarding the sincerity of his victimhood evaporated after he invited serial soul-stealer David Bowie to come on in to his haunted mansion and cop whatever moves he liked. On With Teeth (Interscope) Reznor moves relatively far from the psychosexual end of his depressive spectrum, grappling instead with the old standbys of substance abuse and existential dread. But his sound sculpture has never been more virile or focused, and beyond the pounding hit "The Hand That Feeds"--which nods to Jourgensen's seminal "Stigmata"--there lurks a handful of bluntly affecting cris de coeur, the best and last of which, "Right Where It Belongs," is no less devastating than Johnny Cash's version of "Hurt." Queens of the Stone Age and Autolux open. Fri 10/7, 7 PM, Allstate Arena, 6920 Mannheim, Rosemont, 847-635-6601 or 312-559-1212, $42.50-$47.50. All ages.

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