The EP starts off really well with the synth-heavy Less Than, which sees catchy synth melodies repeating over a punchy drum machine pattern. Reznor's patented half-spoken singing style is introduced almost immediately and this sits perfectly across the dominant synth loops, and some bass guitar playing joins in to add some extra groove. Guitars are absent from the verses, but are used in the chorus for extra power with punky power chords that fit well over the trippy synths. This is a high-energy piece, which is in contrast to much of the rest of the material found on Add Violence, and definitely links this EP to the previous one. Sharlotte Gibson and Allison Iraheta add some backing vocals throughout, which are quite prominent during the choruses, and they are the only guest musicians to be found on this EP. The Lovers is immediately more down-beat with a cold-sounding atmospheric drone which is a good backing for another trippy synth line. During the song's early moments, Reznor's voice is mixed into the background and almost becomes part of the musical landscape of the song, while subtle and haunting piano notes cut through the gloom. When he does begin to sing properly, his mournful croon really helps to add to the strange overall sound of the song. In many ways this is quite a hypnotic piece, with a synth pattern that repeats throughout almost the entirety of the song which helps to draw the listener into the depths of Reznor's mind. This dark feel is built upon further on This isn't the Place, which opens with a slow and menacing bass pattern which is slowly added to with layers of cold synths and atmospheric soundscapes. Reznor's vocals do not kick in until about half way through, and when he does his fragile delivery is quite different to anything he has done recently and definitely harks back, quite appropriately, to The Fragile. By this point, the song has taken on quite a discordant feel, and at times the vocals really clash with the music. I feel this is intentional however, and it works well to create an unsettling atmosphere - something which Reznor has always excelled in. Not Anymore is somewhat of a heavier piece, that opens with a fuzzy bassline and introduces some of the industrial rock elements that featured so heavily on Not the Actual Events. Reznor barks the lyrics throughout with real venom, and the spiky chorus, which is based around a groovy bassline, is one of the EP's most powerful moments. Cold synths are never too far away however, and this song links the previous EP's sound to the sound that dominates Add Violence perfectly, making good use of guitar rhythms and prominent synths. The final song, The Background World, is a lengthy piece at over eleven minutes in length, but the actual 'song' part of this is a more traditional length. It is another downbeat piece, with suffocating synths that create a really desolate feel that is only added to by Reznor's surprisingly melodic vocals. The song's methodical drum programming really draws you into the song, and the beats are easily the thing that stands out the most here. It is this beat that fills the rest of the song's running time, even after the main 'song' is over, as the pattern repeats over and over, getting slightly more distorted and obscured each time, until coming to an end. Overall, Add Violence is another strong effort from Reznor (and Ross) that works as a great companion piece to the previous EP. Their two contrasting styles show off the many sides of Nine Inch Nails perfectly, and I look forward to see where the pair go with the final instalment in the trilogy.
The EP was released on 21st July 2017 via The Null Corporation. Below is the band's promotional lyric video for Less Than.