9. The Downward Spiral - Nine Inch Nails
As the grunge movement was starting to tap into the more emotional side of hard rock, the industrial scene had something much more abrasive going for it. In the wake of bands like Ministry coming to the forefront, Trent Reznor was becoming one of the kings of the scene, operating Nine Inch Nails with a sound that could peel paint off the walls. Then again, you can't make songs like that if it isn't coming from some real pain underneath.
Though The Downward Spiral is framed as a concept album involving a man trying to cancel his own life, there are a lot more parallels to what Reznor was going through than many people would like to believe. He may not have been the dominating presence that you hear on Closer or Big Man With a Gun, but the actual anger on Mr. Self Destruct feels shockingly real, almost as if he's on the verge of losing his mind sitting in the vocal booth. For all of the downtrodden lyrics, the saddest part of these songs come from the layers of noise, like Eraser sounding like he has finally snapped or seeing some sense of hope in A Warm Place.
By the time you reach the final sounds of Hurt, you're not walking away from the album with the warmest of feelings, but it's at least a step in the right direction. Trent may have still felt like a broken man at this point, but after that song, he didn't seem like a lost cause either.