on November 9, 1999
I must admit that I am not your average industrial metal rock fan, having grown up with Hendrix and the Doors and pushing 50. I picked up NIN's "Broken" on a whim in a drugstore sale bin and I can barely believe how this music has taken a grip on me. I love cranking it up on the commute home from work. It has a way of clearing out the mental cobwebs that no other music even comes close to. Some hear anger in this stuff. I hear a destructive, apocalyptic joy strangely combined with rage. It makes me want to scream, not in anger but in raw exhultation, a kind of celebration of being alive even though trapped in career and suburbia - true "Happiness in Slavery".
on January 14, 2006
When Nine Inch Nail's debut album "Pretty Hate Machine" (1989) was first released, it was greeted with little fanfare or commotion. Over time, however, through word-of-mouth, the album caught on. In the early 90s it became an underground and college favorite. Through constant touring and the emergence of the popularity of alternative rock in the early 90s, Nine Inch Nails started to take off. While fans eagerly awaited Trent Reznor's proper follow-up, they eagerly devoured the stop-gap EP "Broken" (1992).
While "Pretty Hate Machine" went for straight-forward industrial beats, "Broken" is far heavier, more aggressive, with more guitars. While the club/techno crowd may have been more receptive to the debut, "Broken" is an EP that would just as likely appeal to metal fans. Equal parts metal and industrial beats, "Broken" can be seen as a prelude, or a sneak preview of what Reznor would unveil two years later with his masterpiece "The Downward Spiral" (1994).
Clocking in slightly past the half-hour mark, with eight songs (two tracks are hidden, two are instrumentals) "Broken" is pretty short. But the EP is so angry, so aggressive, with no reprieve; the shortness in length probably works for the best.
"Broken" features the NIN classics and concert staples, "Wish," "Gave Up," and (the hidden track) "Suck." The lesser known "Last," "Happiness in Slavery," and a cover of Adam Ant's "Physical" (also hidden) are no less memorable. Instrumentals "pinion" and "Help me I am in Hell" help round out the CD.
Back in 1992 when CDs were relatively new to consumers, having ninety-one silent, second-long tracks separate the final two songs from the first six may have been cool and inventive. Now, however, it seems kind of pointless. Still, it's no big deal.
If you are a fan of NIN, "Broken" is just as essential to own as any of the studio albums.
on July 1, 2005
I'm sure you've heard the story behind this album, but I'll tell it again anyway. Pretty Hate Machine became a surprise hit. While it never broke into the top fourty it stayed in the top 100 for over a year, which is quite a feat. TVT felt that if they had more control over the music Trent recorded, than they could have an even bigger hit. Obviously Trent was not happy with this. This album was recorded secretly and is basically his "f**k you" to TVT. This is easily his angriest album, but if you can look past the angst you'll find a great mini-album.
This is not only his angriest album, but also the only one that would really fall into a Metal category. You can tell that Trent had been listening to a lot of Ministry around this time, because it sounds pretty much like their heavier albums with better singing. That's not to say that it's a total rip-off, though. These songs are a lot catchier than Ministry was in their industrial-metal prime, and have a more melodic feel to them. There are also no political messages or samples, which were, and still are, a big part of Ministry.
The album opens with Pinion, a short instrumental that repeats the same 6 chords over and over. It begins almost silent with something that sounds like the wind in the background, but as the song goes on it gets louder and louder until it finally becomes undistorted. 3/5
Immediately after the last few chords of Pinion, Wish begins with a very memorable drum beat. This is probably the most well known song on the album. It has an interesting music video, and it won a Grammy for best Heavy Metal song of 1993. It's easy to see why. It follows Trent's signature loud-soft-loud plan, and it's as good as any of his heavier songs. 5/5
Next is my personal favorite song on the album, Last. A lot of people find the lyrics to be cheesy, and I will say that he goes a bit over the top here. But the music is incredible. It's very rare that a song can be both this catchy and still retain all of its heaviness, but this songs suceeds. It also contains probably the best solos I've heard in an NIN song to date. 5/5
After Last is Help Me I Am In Hell, which is a short, soft instrumental break before the chaos of the next track. It's almost acoustic, and it keeps the album from becoming monotous. 4/5
The album's fifth track is the very noisy Hapiness in Slavery, the other single from the album. The video for this song featured performance artist Bob Flanigan being tortured to death. Of course this wasn't real, but the video was quickly banned from MTV after one airing, which usually gets more publicity for a song than being in rotation anyway. This is probably the only thing to hint at the Downward Spiral, but it still doesn't feel out of place. 5/5
The actual album finishes with Gave Up. Like Wish, it opens with a memorable drum beat, and is probably the most straightforward rock track on the album. However, it's also one of those songs that sounds a lot better live than in the studio. The version found on And All That Could've Been is much better. This version is still nice, though. 5/5
Depending on your copy of the album, the next track will be Physical, the album is over, or there are many tracks of silence following Gave Up. You should still have the last two tracks in some form, though.
The first of the two bonus tracks is Physical, which is a good cover of Adam Ant. If you listen closely you will hear Trent's dog barking in the background, and Trent will say "Eat your heart out Stevie", referring to his situation with TVT. This is a great track quite unlike anything Trent has done. It's also probably his raunchiest one, even more so than Closer. 5/5
The second of the two tracks is Suck, which has seen many versions, including various demos. While Trent was involved with the first released version by Pigface, this one is a lot different. That version was just Trent's vocals, Drums, and Bass, but Trent has fleshed it out with guitars on the chorus and a catchier bass line. He also added a bridge to the song. The opinion seems fairly unanimous that this version is better. Even Pigface plays it Trent's way. This also seems to be one of Trent's favorite songs to play live. The version on And All That Could Have Been is a bit heavier, but I think they're equally good. 5/5
If you're more into metal than alternative rock, than this is the NIN album for you. Even if you're not really a metal fan, you should still check it out, because it's a lot more interesting than some metal, and obviously it's more than just straightforward metal. It's the best EP Trent ever released and it's a very important chapter in the history of Nine Inch Nails. If you had any previous interest in NIN and don't own this, then you shouldn't hesitate. You won't be let down.
on May 1, 2004
So we've got good old Trent writing songs for this new EP after the immensely popular and widely accepted Pretty Hate Machine (which will be further referred to as PHM). I think the reason why this album is so much different that his other stuff is because he was excited. He said to himself, "Oh, now that this real band and I are playing together, I'll let everyone in on the creative process." So he and Danny Lohner (lifetime friends) began to write stuff for Broken, originally meant to be a single for the song Happiness in Slavery. Here's the my low-down on all the songs on a 10 base rating scale.
You pop in the CD and you say, "What the hell? Why don't I hear anything?" Then after you check your speaker cables, you can distantly hear this faint "Perfect Drug"-like guitar. Then there are some words that are hard to understand. Basically this one and a half minute song is just a build-up into something fantastic, which is Wish.
Let me tell you, I first bought NIN's live CD and I loved this song. It was so different and so rocky and cool. I was really excited to pick up Broken so I could hear what the original recorded cersion sounded like. At first, I liked it better live, but then as I started listening to it, the perfection that was recording un-live was just so good. This heavy vocals and the crunching guitars are an excellent contrast to the tapping of the snare drum during the chorus. The lyrics are a tad poor though, for Reznor, who is, in my opinion, the best lyricist on the planet.
I was very much so into this song when I first picked up the CD, but then after listening to it so much, I realized that guitar-work was pretty damn tedious and the lyrics even repeated once. I still can't get enough of the end of the song when he says, "I want you to break me," and there's this really distant screaming in the backround. The screams on this CD are fantastic. It's a pretty good song.
Help Me I am in Hell
Another build up song that's really similar to Pinion. I suggest that if you've listened to the CD before, then just skip this one.
Happiness In Slavery
I've always really enjoyed this song, but it wasn't until lately that I've realized how good it is. It's a big mix between PHM and The Downward Spiral, but sounds nothing like anything else on Broken. Once again, the cool synth sounds and the crunching guitar are amazing. The lyrics are by far the best on the CD (Suck comes close) and I especially love the part in the first chorus where he says, "The devils of truth deal the souls of the free." Also, when the drum machine cuts out and he says, "This big broken machine." This is easily my favorite song on the CD.
Another amazing song with really really cool guitar synth combinations. The double pedal at the beginning combined with the vocal effect make the song deliciously haunting. The guitar part is like nothing that Trent has ever written before (I smell Lohner) and the keyboard solo halfway through is very very cool. I'm not sure if I like this song live better. They both have outstanding qualities. The cut and pasting at the end of the song is very very unique and outlandish. Another very good song.
All silence, all crap.
This song is by far the most prolific that NIN has ever done. It's very very slow with extremely sexual and haunting lyrics. It's weird, because there are no synth sounds in this song and it works out very well.
This may very well be better than Happiness in Slavery. I love the combination of pre-recorded drum beats while that crazy synth techno noise is playing. The lyrics in this song are outstanding, especially when he says, "I'm Jesus Christ on ecstasy." (Listen to live version for changed lyrics). The slow drum beat chorus is also very cool. The bass guitar is a nice change for NIN and the guitar work is very good. The ending is my favorite part when he just keeps repeating the word Suck. The final song. A triumphant end.
This CD is probably my least favorite of NIN's (excluding singles) except I may like it better than PHM. I suggest you get it though for a rocking good time. It's very thrash.
on December 6, 2014
Short and sweet. While I doubt anyone, in the year 2014, is looking at reviews for this album (because you probably already own it) I'll give my opinion anyhow. Broken cannot be faulted for meandering, most songs are short but impactful, telling a twisted story mixing so many emotions together into one fine blend of mayhem that it really does deserve a good listen or ten. If you've managed to never hear about Nine Inch Nails before then...welcome! Enjoy the ride! This album is quite different from the rest of their material, probably being the heaviest, darkest, and most mechanical sounding of them all, but those are also the qualities that make it one of their best efforts. Be prepared to be shock and slightly disturbed but also highly entertained.
on October 19, 2015
I remember when I bought Broken on the day of its release. I had enjoyed Pretty Hate Machine a lot (still do, actually) but kinda wanted Trent to make the next one heavier. Holy crap was I in for it, because nothing could have prepared me for just how much heavier Broken really sounded. Instead of the calm anger and tempered darkness of the previous outing, Trent pulls out the stops and unleashes a tempest of raw fury on the unsuspecting listener. And even more striking is the use of real instruments and additional musicians to augment Trent's already formidable keyboards. It was a drastic change at the time, one that opened doors to new sounds and musical directions to NIN that might not have happened otherwise. And yet this EP is really just a stopgap between albums at only six songs plus two 'hidden' tracks at the end. I can only give Broken four stars because I wish the band had developed this sound into a full length album. By the time the next album, The Downward Spiral, was released, NIN's sound had evolved further, adding an even more raw and abrasive tone to the instruments while introducing chaotic elements that had not been present before. But by itself or with its catalog, Broken is an ass kicker of an EP that needs no repair.
on February 28, 2001
With only 8 tracks, 2 being hidden tracks, Broken has more anger and rage packed into the shortest amount of time than any other NIN album, hands down, and has probably the darkest and most controversial storyline behind it to boot. It has become a staple at live shows to get the crowd going, and was the angry album of choice for guys like me during middle school and high school.
Broken starts off quietly enough, with the instrumental track Pinion, a simple guitar riff that picks up pace and intensity as the track goes on. It flows smoothly, albeit loudly, into Wish, the only song to make it to MTV. This is a LOUD, INTENSE song that moves with as much intensity as The March of the Pigs. The EP slows down again for Last and another instrumental, Help Me I Am In Hell. We're then thrown back into the mosh pit for Happiness In Slavery, the song that got Trent all sorts of recognition. Gave Up and Physical (a scathing Adam Ant cover) follow, Physical being hidden, and is closed by Suck (one of my favorites).
Broken is a HUGE departure from Pretty Hate Machine, with more guitars and less electronics. For those of you who have somehow managed to hear Pretty Hate Machine, and not Broken, beware: there really is no other way to describe this album than ANGRY. The lyrics are full of bondage and slavery images, and it also starts to hint at the self destruction that will be evident in The Downward Spiral.
My only problem with this CD is that it's too short. Surprisingly, I LOVE the instrumental tracks on this, especially Help Me I Am In Hell, and wish they had been extended. Other than that, though, this is by far the best EP that NIN ever put out, you really do get your money's worth.
For NIN trivia buffs, Broken was HEAVILY promoted, with THREE radio singles coming off the album (although no official singles were produced; instead, we got the follow-up Fixed EP). Considering that two of the eight tracks are instrumentals, that only leaves 6 of the remaining 8 tracks to have been picked for radio play, and those were Wish, Happiness in Slavery, and Physical. Videos were made for all of the songs except for Suck and Last, although Wish was the only video to make it to MTV, because the other videos were too graphic without heavy editing. For some odd reason, other than Last being filmed with Marilyn Manson for the Closure video, Last has NEVER been performed live.
on April 14, 2002
This album hits your serotonin receptors like an atom bomb. It's damn near impossible to listen to this whole thing without rocking out to the beat or singing (screaming) along. Genevieve Williams describes it as a placeholder. It's not. It grinds Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral into the dust with blasting guitar noises and soul-wrenching rhythms. It's all the quality of a normal-length CD concetrated into an EP.
No, I'm not a sales rep, but if you're even considering buying this album, you want it. You've been needing it for years to fill that empty gap in your life... You know, that gap a lot of us tried to stuff with trite nu-metal garbage and jerking off... "Broken" is a confrontation with the naked id -- an album for a dysphoric world, for beautiful destruction, for screaming at the top of your lungs at everything and nothing, for fear, for angst, and somehow -- for hope. Even as galaxies collide, supernovas explode, and the universe shatters, there is a phoenix hidden in the flames on the album cover. When we have reached the bottom, there is nowhere to go but up.
...Alright, maybe I'm over-dramatizing. Maybe I *am* a sales rep =). Maybe Trent Reznor is just trying to capitalize on a vast teenage market of angst-turned-commercialism. Nonetheless, this is still the perfect album for when you're angry, upset, depressed, or confused like so many of us are. Works better than prescription medication. Reznor may repeat many of the same self-destructive themes in his songs, but guess what? So do we in life. "Broken" brings to consciousness that relentless voice inside our heads that tells us to screw everything and just let it all out. By the time I'm done listening, I have nothing left to vent.
More to the point, if you enjoy loud, engaging, sonorous mayhem, this album is for you. I consider it Reznor's best work to date. Listen. Rage. Repeat.
on August 25, 2005
IF the industrial genre tag should ever be applied to NIN, it should be on this album only. Dark as hell, heavy beats, lyrics surrounding torture, and thrashy songs all make this album amazing. The Skinny Puppy and Ministry influences can be heard througout, and Trent hits the Nail on the head (sorry for the pun!)
You can listen to this album every day for weeks and not get tired of it. Happyness in Slavery is my personal favorite song of the album, it's angry and sexy at the same time. However every song on this album is stellar, including the bonus tracks (Trent's cover of "You're So Physical" is awsome)
After listening to this go download the Broken movie if you want to really see how pissed off trent was when he made this, it's still the most disturbing music video I've EVER seen.
on March 21, 2016
This is in my top 3 favorite NIN albums! I have it on my Ipod but this particular purchase was for the cassette, so worth it! Keeping it old school! Seriously though, I would recommend this album to anyone already a fan of NIN or to people either getting into industrial music or just learning about this band.
Oh by the way, if you're new to this band...Wish is a kick @$$ song!