Nine Inch Nails’ sonic vitality is nearly unparalleled. Nearly three decades after Trent Reznor first hit the scene in the late 1980s, the band has remained one of the most urgent, angst-ridden and shockingly confrontational forces in popular music. Just this year they put out a new EP, Add Violence, that ranks as one of the finest, fiercest collections of songs they’ve ever produced. That work represents the second installment in a planned trilogy of abbreviated releases set to culminate with one final entry sometime in the winter months. I expect greatness there again.
Between the sparse industrial sounds of Pretty Hate Machine, the atomic bomb bombast of Broken, the gnashing, era-defining monster that was The Downward Spiral, the sprawling, open-hearted double-album The Fragile, and later works like With Teeth, Year Zero, The Slip, Hesitation Marks, and Not The Actual Events, there’s a vast array of Nine Inch Nails material for people to wade through. For those looking for the best entry point into this seminal band’s oeuvre, here are 15 of the best songs that Trent and his rotating collection of musical collaborators has ever produced.