The Downward Spiral #6: “Eraser” and “Reptile”

This is the sixth post of The Downward Spiral Nine Inch Nails Series. If you want/need to read the others, here are the links:
FirstSecondThirdFourth, Fifth posts.

#11 “Eraser” picks up where “A Warm Place” (#10) ends, including even the basic musical rhythms. Thoughout the song, more and more layers of  sound are added. The character, not in his “warm place” anymore, hears his internal voice louder and louder. Finally, it gets too much and he lashes out at the woman that has been mentioned throughout the album. The lyrics, though few, are so raw and powerful that I had to post them here:

need you
dream you
find you
taste you
fuck you
use you
scar you
break you

lose me
hate me
smash me
erase me
kill me 

He lets down everyone, not just the woman, and decides the only way to make amends is to “erase” himself. This in my mind is even worst that death. Death means the end of life but erasure means never having lived at all. So to wish that one’s whole life never happened is the most horrible and saddest thing someone can wish for.

Here is a live version of the song. Why the heck wasn’t I old enough to understand their greatness when they were still touring? Anyone see one of their concerts live? I would be jealous but would love to hear about it!  

#12 “Reptile.” What can I say about you. Other than of course you are the epitome of an industrial rock song. If someone ever asks what industrial sounds like, play this. No other group has been able to reproduce this mechanical, deep, disturbing, but beautiful sound. And the lyrics! Yes, it is describing a prostitute so be careful where you listen (or sing) this. But the prositute (one that the main character goes to in a final attempt to connect with the world) is not the “impure” one in this song. She is portrayed as a “liar” and a fake, things she has been forced to do for her profession. The character though is impure. For hiring her and for the things he has done in his life. And Trent Reznor does a great job “showing” us this with the emotion in his voice. As he sings about the prostitute, there is almost a loving tone to his voice. But when he speaks of himself and the depths of this loneliness (“I now know the depth I read are limitless”), he only has contempt.

Just a note: the next post is the last one of the series. I will hopefully have internet so I can post it tomorrow but I might not. I am going to a cousin’s wedding in South Dakota and the hotel may or may not have internet. But it will be up no later that late Sunday. I am very excited to write about the last two songs, especially “Hurt.”


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Filed under Industrial, NIN, The Downward Spiral, Trent Reznor

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