This is the first full length album from Trent Reznor's band How To Destroy Angels which features his wife Mariqueen Maandig on vocals. The sound has moved a bit more away from the Nine Inch Nails sound since the first self-titled HTDA EP was released in 2010. We already knew that, because 4 of the tracks from "Welcome Oblivion" were included on the EP "An Omen". These tracks are also among the strongest, so it makes much sense to include them on the full length album.
The duplicated tracks are "Keep it together", "Ice Age", "On The Wing", "The Loop Closes". Out of those 4 tracks "The Loop Closes" with repeating lyrics "The beginning is the end. Keeps comin' around again" surely has some NIN connection. "Ice Age" is probably my favorite though, with a great organic and acoustic sound. It is a really great song. Other favorites from the new album would be the pop song "How long?" and the song "Too late, all gone" which also feels rather connected to NIN with the lyrics "The more we change, everything stays the same."
Most of the album's music is somewhat minimalistic electronic music. It does however sound quite different than the massive industrial thunder and aggression that is often connected with NIN, even if I can also hear some inspiration and similarities with e.g. the NIN album "Year Zero". It is actually nice to listen to "Welcome Oblivion" and the various soundscapes create some great images to dream yourself away to. While Mariqueen's voice is not the strongest in the music world, I think it fits this type of music really well and I have no problem with her singing most of the lyrics with Trent mostly filling in on background voice.
I find that HTDA have found themselves a nice sound that - while it certainly isn't NIN - still has something of value to offer to the listener. I much prefer HTDA to Trent's soundtrack albums or the instrumental NIN album "Ghosts" all of which I've found rather boring. HTDA's "Welcome Oblivion" is rarely boring and most of the time it is actually pretty good. It may take some spins to open up but it will, if you give it the time required.
It has recently been revealed that Nine Inch Nails are in fact not dead and buried. Trent has plans to resurrect the band from the grave soon. Until then, there is a chance to hear HTDA play some live gigs in the USA. Unfortunately I don't think they'll tour in Europe, but if we can perhaps have NIN live instead, then it's not the worst deal.