Of all the melodramatic, aggro-fueled touchstones of the '90s, few have aged as well as The Downward Spiral. Even considering Nine Inch Nails auteur Trent Reznor's over-the-top lyrics, provocations and fishnet shirts, in hindsight the record was far more ahead of its time than we imagined 14 years ago. Reznor's nihilistic angst has long since been out of fashion, and because of that he's often overlooked within the disaffected and distant vogue of contemporary music critics. Nonetheless, perhaps no other artist outside of Nirvana exercised more influence over the previous decade. NIN created a style of industrial music that was informed by the underground and digestible for the mainstream, all while Reznor's battles with labels over complete artistic control were enough to convince purists that he wasn't making creative concessions in order to sell records. While NIN's first foray into the 21st century, With Teeth, was something of a tepid affair, this year has seen two NIN records every bit as good as the better known back catalog.
Fri., Oct. 31, 8 p.m., 2008