Imagine a slightly more melodic, perhaps less dissonant, take on the gentler fare from Fragile-era Nine Inch Nails. Now imagine Trent alternating vocal duties with his wife. That’s pretty much How To Destroy Angels, though, as terribly unoriginal as it sounds, there’s so much more to it than that.
Their first singles and EP struck a more solemn tone in a way, hypnotic and, at times, stripped back, but with an ever-present rising soundscape beneath everything. Once they finally released their (so far) only full album, HTDA had grown and evolved into an ethereal post-industrial electronic group with few equivalents in the industry.
Their live shows were also considered a wonderful experience, as they performed mostly as silhouettes from behind curtains of transparent rope, and an eerie light show danced around them.
I never got to see HTDA live. I was fortunate to see a sort of reunion when Mariqueen joined Nine Inch Nails on stage to perform a couple of HTDA tracks, but I never got to see the real thing. And it’s possible I never will.
This March will be eight years since How To Destroy Angels released ‘Welcome Oblivion’. Four months later, Nine Inch Nails set out on their first tour after a four-year hiatus, and they have had the spotlight ever since. HTDA never broke up, and Trent and Mariqueen are still married, so there’s always hope.
Until then, I’ll still have two EPs and an album to remind me of that strange few years where we occupied a NIN-less alternate reality, and How To Destroy Angels showed us a whole other version of Trent Reznor’s creative output.