With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music reviews, gig reviews, fun trivia and extra added random stuff!

‘Into the Never – Nine Inch Nails And The Creation Of The Downward Spiral’ by Adam Steiner March 2, 2022


I don’t get the opportunity to review books here on With Just A Hint Of Mayhem, but I am pleased to say that following hot on the heels (ok more than three months) of my review of John Illsley’s autobiography I have just read another, obviously music-related tome. This one is for ‘Into the Never – Nine Inch Nails And The Creation Of The Downward Spiral’ By Adam Steiner, which was originally published in 2020 by Backbeat Books. This is Adam’s first non-fiction book following his first novel ‘Politics of The Asylum’ from 2018. Adam also publishes poetry and is a journalist. Among other things, presumably in his spare time, he has also lectured on Creative Writing and Publishing at Coventry University.

If you are a fan of Trent Reznor’s music then you may well have already read this book, if you’re not then I would recommend that you do, maybe using the album that it covers in great detail as your soundtrack. There is a similarity between Steiner’s book and the ’33 1/3′ Series that has published some great pocket-sized books which explore the creation of classic albums, (including book 78 in the series covering Nine Inch Nails ‘Pretty Hate Machine’) although ‘Into The Never’ goes to a far greater depth to study how ‘The Downward Spiral‘ came about. In fact, one of the huge collection of Steiner’s references is Daphne Carr’s 33 1/3 book.

‘Into The Never’ not only deals with the actual music and how it was constructed and recorded but also analyses the whole creation of the album. Including Trent Reznor’s probable state of mind at the time and that he initially worked on the album at a home recording set up in a rented property on Cielo Drive in Los Angeles. Not just some random property though, this was the house where the infamous Manson Murders took place. Although there is no suggestion that Reznor rented the place because of that. The book has caused me to completely re-examine ‘The Downward Spiral‘ which I always considered a good album. But after playing it quite a few times while reading the book I have come to appreciate it as a great album a truly seminal release and possibly Trent Reznor’s finest recorded moment. Adam Steiner writes with a great intellectual gravity while ordering his words in a beautiful flow that kept me interested from start to finish. Questions about whether ‘The Downward Spiral’ is autobiographical or simply a concept album akin to Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ are considered. As well as Reznor’s fraught addiction issues and his path on a rocky road to self-destruction (which thankfully he survived) the book also deals with relevant aspects of US social history from the aforementioned Manson Murders to the Columbine School shootings via the Vietnam War.

There are some really sharp references to what most definitely did influence the album or in some cases may have influenced. Including, my list is not exhaustive,

Authors; George Orwell, Greil Marcus, Chuck Palahniuk, Albert Camus

Philosophers and Thinkers; Michel Foucault, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche

Musicians; David Bowie, Marilyn Manson, Richey Edwards, Kurt Cobain, Ian Curtis, Johnny Cash

Artists; Mark Rothko, Francis Bacon

The book also discusses the theological impact alongside the major world events that probably played a part. Additionally, there are plenty of references to films (‘Natural Born Killers’) and music (“Helter Skelter” by the Beatles). This is perhaps the most in-depth publication about an album that I have ever read and frankly, my musical knowledge and appreciation of ‘The Downward Spiral‘ is so much richer because of it. Fans of Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails will devour this book and those who appreciate great music and classic albums will love it too. Click here to find it on Amazon, or better still pay a visit to your local independent book store or your public library!

Adam Steiner

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