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Nine Inch Nails Dive Into Video Game Lore in New “LESS THAN” Music Video

NIN’s “ADD VIOLENCE” EP drops next week.

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After a fairly lengthy drought, Nine Inch Nails is back in full force. The band’s last official album, Hesitation Marks, was released all the way back in August, 2013, and despite some remix EPs and film scoring work by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (now an official member of the band) in the interim, we didn’t get any new NIN until last Christmas. The Not the Actual Events EP was initially thought to be a standalone release, but just about a month ago, Reznor announced that it was planned as the first in a “TRILOGY OF RELATED EPS,” as he wrote in an email to a fan.

Just a few weeks after the band appeared on Twin Peaks to perform Not the Actual Events cut “She’s Gone Away,” we’ve got details on the upcoming EP as well as a video for one of its tracks. ADD VIOLENCE will be released next Friday, July 21, and its track “LESS THAN” is here today, accompanied by video game-heavy visuals. 

The song itself is great, initially a New Ordery synth jam that’s hijacked by overdriven guitar and Reznor’s guttural snarl, but the story behind the video might be the most interesting aspect of the full package.

The video game, a high-speed spaceship shooter that’s trippy enough to have been based on 2001: A Space Odyssey's “star gate” sequence, is in fact an existing VR game called Polybius. According to a new interview with the game’s creator, Reznor simply DM’d him on Twitter to ask for permission to use the game and subtly tweak its code for a new video. "Of course I was super chuffed to hear he'd liked our work,” said the creator, “as I've enjoyed his a lot over the years too!"

But there’s perhap an even deeper reason that Reznor chose Polybius for this video. The name is somewhat notorious within the gaming community, as it first appeared in an urban legend about a mysterious game console that popped up in a few arcades in Oregon in 1981. Rumor has it, the original Polybius was created by the government to produce psychoactive and addictive effects in users, and the consoles were mined for data by the proverbial “men in black.” Of course, the current VR game has little to do with that legend, and on top of that, the whole story sounds pretty unbelievable, but you can see why someone as interested in technocracy as Reznor is would be fascinated by this whole thing.

Anyway, enjoy watching the “LESS THAN” vide. But maybe don’t watch it too closely…