All That Could Have Been Isn’t Really Worth It
Nine Inch Nails’ And All That Could Have Been is a joke of a title, showing that what could have been isn’t far different than what Trent Reznor has accomplished in the past. The music is classic Nails–rooted in a satisfying, dirty electronica–but there is only one thing to be said about listening to a live recording of industrial music: it sucks. Surely being at the performance of these songs is better than listening to a CD that sounds like a bad bootleg. Rather than the screaming fans adding momentum to the music as in other live albums, such as Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in New York, the album feels dragged down with the crowd tagging along–and classic songs aren’t even experimented with, making them feel formulaic. If his intention was to make something for the old fans and fend off the curious wannabe-hardcores, then mission accomplished.
Those who invested in the deluxe version of the album will be pleasantly surprised, though. The second CD is worth the purchase, containing a collection (including the title track) that completely redeems Reznor. They are slow and moody, yet intensity is not sacrificed for depth. Even listeners who don’t love Nine Inch Nails will find themselves nodding their heads to the beat and pausing to pay attention to Reznor’s entrancing vocals.