Closer to God, by Nine Inch Nails

62-closertogod

Released May 30, 1994

52 min, 43 sec

Remixes have been an integral part of the Nine Inch Nails catalogue from day one. Their very first release, the “Down in It” single, is anchored by two remixes of the title track, and nearly every single since then has featured a selection of remixes as b-sides. The Downward Spiral, given the extensiveness of its singles and the era’s accompanying remix album, offers a particularly large proportion of these remixes across the “March of the Pigs” single, the “Closer” single, and the two versions of Further Down the Spiral.

Interestingly, the single release for “Closer” is instead named after the leading track on the single, “Closer to God.” This remix is the most interesting one of the bunch, in that it speeds up the song’s main rhythm while dragging out its lyrics, with new lyrics added in by Reznor as well, specifically recorded for this remix. “Closer to God” has even been played live, one of the only remixes in Nine Inch Nails’s extensive catalogue to receive such a treatment.

The rest of the remixes are not as remarkable, but each one has its own identity, manipulating and stripping out the vocals as they see fit, often over entirely redone backing music. “Closer” is not the only track represented here, either; for some reason, a remix of “Heresy” is thrown in as well, despite the song not receiving a single release or any other sort of special treatment. The single edit of “Closer,” unchanged from the album version with the sole exception of the song’s final note being allowed to play for its full duration, closes out the album.

Alongside the remixes come two new studio tracks – the curious instrumental “March of the Fuckheads” and the Soft Cell cover “Memorabilia.”

“Memorabilia” is an appropriate choice of a cover. Reznor rarely does covers, usually only recording them when he has a strong connection to the artist he is covering, or when a song’s subject matter blends in with the era it is recorded in. In the case of “Memorabilia,” the song is about obsession, where the protagonist repeatedly asserts his desire to keep memories and feelings he has taken from someone he cares about. It’s a creepy track that certainly has strong ties to the themes introduced in The Downward Spiral, and is right at home among the numerous remixes of “Closer,” a song that treads the same lines. Additionally, the song ends with audio of, among other things, a prank call to a phone sex hotline. Nice.

“March of the Fuckheads” is odd. Despite what the title implies, the song is not tied to the Downward Spiral track “March of the Pigs” in any manner, and is not even credited to Reznor himself; the writing credit instead goes to Adrian Sherwood. The song is essentially five minutes of industrial-based percussion that goes through a few minor sound changes, but keeps the general base of the song consistent throughout. It’s not really known why this song was included; it may have been intended as an interlude for The Downward Spiral, or perhaps was composed by Sherwood so that Reznor could write lyrics to it. In any case, no part of it appears on the final album, so Reznor likely included it on Closer to God just to have it out in the wild.

Closer to God is one of the more extensive single releases in the Nine Inch Nails catalogue, justifying its existence with the presence of five “Closer” remixes, the song itself, a “Heresy” remix, and two entirely new recordings. Singles can often be bare-bones releases that exist solely for the sake of existing; to Reznor’s credit, Closer to God is not one of those.

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