HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS play the Sound Academy on April 25. See listings. Rating: NN
When Trent Reznor "retired" Nine Inch Nails four years ago, it seemed he was ready to try something new. He did that in spades in his work with Atticus Ross on movie scores, a collaboration that netted him an Oscar for The Social Network, but his interim band, How to Destroy Angels, doesn't exactly tread new territory.
The group, which includes Ross, Rob Sheridan and his wife, Mariqueen Maandig, has released two good but not great EPs, and Welcome Oblivion, their debut LP, was their chance to really make an impression. They don't quite accomplish that, instead presenting a version of Nine Inch Nails that sticks to atmospheric dark synth soundscapes without the all-caps industrial rock payoffs and often replaces Reznor's angsty vocals with the characterless tabula rasa of Maandig's voice.
It's a nice, low-key respite from NIN's angry catharsis, but 65 mid-tempo minutes with little variation (the sparse acoustics of How Long? aside) make it a slog.
Top Track: How Long?