Having spent most of the last decade concentrating on Academy award-winning film scores (2010’s The Social Network) and his How to Destroy Angels project, Trent Reznor rebooted Nine Inch Nails in December 2016 with Not the Actual Events, the first in a series of three EPs. After last year’s Add Violence, Bad Witch completes the cycle, its three distinct moods suggesting a triptych within a triptych.
Opener Shit Mirror reprises some of the aggression of the first two EPs, is distorted of guitar and vocal, and recalls nothing so much as 1999’s Starfuckers Inc stripped of its quieter interludes; Ahead of Ourselves follows in a similar vein. But Play the Goddamned Part changes tack, its insistent yet discordant sax riff backed by a thundering bass line and beats that sound like detonations. There are echoes of If They Move, Kill ’Em-era Primal Scream given an industrial makeover and God Break Down the Door adds skittering rhythms to that template. The final two tracks are more sombre, particularly closer Over and Out, Reznor repeatedly crooning “time is running out” against a building storm of noise.