Nine Inch Nails Albums Ranked

Nine Inch Nails, commonly abbreviated as NIN (stylized as NIИ), is an American industrial rock band formed in 1988 in Cleveland, Ohio. Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Trent Reznor was the only permanent member of the band until the official addition of English musician Atticus Ross in 2016. Reznor recorded the band’s debut album, Pretty Hate Machine (1989) while working overnight as a janitor at a Cleveland recording studio. After feuding with the label TVT Records about promotion, Reznor signed with Interscope Records and released the EP Broken (1992). The following albums, The Downward Spiral (1994) and The Fragile (1999) were released to critical acclaim and commercial success. Nine Inch Nails have sold over 20 million records and have been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards, winning for the songs “Wish” (1992) and “Happiness in Slavery” (1996). In 1997, Time named Reznor one of the most influential people, and Spin has described him as “the most vital artist in music”. In 2004, Rolling Stone placed Nine Inch Nails at No. 94 on its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time. They were nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 (their first year of eligibility), nominated again in 2015, and are scheduled for induction in 2020. Here are all Nine Inch Nails’ albums ranked.

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10. Further Down the Spiral (1995)

“This is the most post-apocalyptic album I have ever heard. The remixes are crazy, this is actually what the Blade Runner soundtrack should sound like (although that’s more dystopian than post-apocalyptic). If feel robots and machines had something to say about this production. It is on the edge, more than any other album I know. My version has nine songs, but that’s enough for me, Self Destruction, final is a great song to end this haunting album. I hope by now it’s obvious that I prefer this version over the original album.”

9. Still (2002)

“You’d better sit down in a serene setting, close your eyes and prepare to be overwhelmed by a roller-coaster of emotions. Still bares a very dark, yet beautiful atmosphere that I think most people can relate to. The music ranges from the softest to the hardest banging melodies. One can’t really help but daydream about something that feels relative to any of the songs on Still. “

8. Ghosts I–IV (2008)

“Ghosts is instrumental which may have come as a shock to many hardcore fans, but as one myself, it didn’t take long to immerse myself in the 2 hours (36 tracks split in to 4 ‘moods’) of the sprawling journey that Ghosts takes you on. Each track is two to six minutes long & just melds together organically. The usual suspects, Atticus Ross, Alan Moulder, Alessandro Cortini and Adrian Belew, were holed up to spend an intense ten weeks composing and recording Ghosts. As Reznor explains on the NIN website: “The rules were as follows: 10 weeks, no clear agenda, no over-thinking, everything driven by impulse. Whatever happens during that time gets released as… something.”

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7. Hesitation Marks (2013)

“No one stays an “angry young man” forever (speaking as a former “angry young man”, myself). Sooner or later you either mature or kill yourself. TR has matured into a driven, talented artist still producing top quality music. You may not like his more ‘mature’ sound, but that doesn’t mean that he has lost his edge, or his amazing creativity. I’ve been a NIN fan (almost) since the beginning, and The Fragile is still my favorite. But that doesn’t take anything away from this latest offering. I like it a lot.

6. The Slip (2008)

“I love this CD. It is an amazing piece of work. It took me a few listens to like it as much as I do now, but my first listen was all it took for me to know how great it is. I just saw them live in CT at Mohegan Sun and the songs they played from this CD just makes me appreciate those songs even more. Head Down is great, Echoplex is awesome, and Discipline is my favorite single from the last 3 major CDs NIN has released (as in I like that song more than both The Hand The Feeds and Survivalism). This CD is a must buy. Once you do, listen to it more than once in one sitting. You’ll be happy you did.”

5. Year Zero (2007)

“I have to admit that it took me a while to get into this one. The static and the screeching on some of the tracks turned me off for the longest time. Coming off of the Frigile and With Teeth this was not what I was expecting, and as such I turned my nose up from it and ran away from an album that became one of my favorite NIN releases of all time. So what brought me back? The story that each song slowly unfolds. The slow, burning, narrative that unravels beneath the album like an undertow waiting to drag you down to its depths and suffocate you.”

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4. With Teeth (2005)

“This album is amazing. There are no words to explain how amazing but I will do my best. From start to finish it is one of the best made albums ever recorded. Technically it has all the polish of a true masterwork. The lead ins and sound engineering are excellent. the vocals are meaningful and thoughtful without being overly dreary or artsy-fartsy. The music has an edge and tone to it that is sure to thrill most hardcore NIN fans or anyone that really wants some good tonefull angry/melancholy rock.

3. Pretty Hate Machine (1989)

“Pretty Hate Machine was always an excellent record. So much of what Nine Inch Nails would become is evident in this album. This album features a more synth-heavy sound than the follow-up albums Broken and The Downward Spiral had. Lyrically, it’s an exquisite album that later NIN albums just never seemed to match. For proof, one just needs to listen to “Something I Can Never Have”…easily one of the most moving and haunting NIN songs ever written. The album also includes the classic singles, “Head Like a Hole”, “Down In It” and “Sin”.”

2. The Fragile (1999)

The Fragile is one of the best records ever made. 5 years or so after TDS Reznor came back with an epic about all the illustrious suffering and experience of life since that watershed moment. Love, hate, sadness, pity, pride…. it’s all here. And there are so many great songs, with such a fluid cohesion, that listening to the Left and Right CDs in their entirety is almost mandatory. The instrumentals are some of the best that NIN ever put out.  Highly recommended.”

1. The Downward Spiral (1994)

“Still sounds better than most of today’s piffle. This ‘industrial’ sound might not be your thing but this album still sounds more modern than today’s music. I guess it’s because it’s different. It’s dark too. This is the 2nd copy I’ve had, in 1995 I bought this expecting more Pretty Hate Machine, wasn’t sure I liked it at first but after a couple of listens it swiftly became an all time favorite. I can still say that 20 years later.”