Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails were the most popular industrial group ever and were largely responsible for bringing the music to a mass audience. It isn't really accurate to call NIN a group; the only official member is singer/producer/multi-instrumentalist Trent Reznor, who always remained solely responsible for NIN's musical direction (he was, however, supported in concert by a regular backing band). Unlike the vast majority of industrial artists, Reznor wrote melodic, traditionally structured songs where lyrics were a focal point. His pop instincts not only made the harsh electronic beats of industrial music easier to digest, but also put a human face on a style that usually tried to sound as mechanical as possible. While Ministry crossed over to heavy metal audiences, NIN built up a large alternative rock fan base right around the time of Nirvana's mainstream breakthrough. As a result, Reznor became a genuine star and his notoriously dark, brooding persona and provocateur instincts made him a Jim Morrison-esque sex symbol for the '90s. A long period of inactivity and writer's block followed, which gave virtually every alternative metal band of the late '90s a chance to rip off elements of NIN's sound. By the time Reznor's five-year hiatus finally ended, he was still a popular figure but his commercial momentum had slowed somewhat.

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