By the time the follow-up to Ebbhead surfaced, Trent Reznor had decisively reset the boundaries for what industrial was in the popular mind, with help provided by sometimes-Nitzer Ebb producer Flood on The Downward Spiral. Nearly every industrial/electronic-affiliated act in the milieu that Reznor had first come to prominence in had to react in one way or another, and while Big Hit is first and foremost a Nitzer Ebb album, it's hard not to hear it as in part a response to Nine Inch Nails' decisive success. It's much more of a rock album than the band had ever recorded before -- for the accompanying tour, guitars were used on-stage for the first time -- and Flood's return on production made for a further connection. Perhaps the oddest touch was on lead single "Kick It"; besides Douglas McCarthy all-too-clearly trying to ape Reznor's lyrical and vocal style, there's also guest guitar from, of all folks, Bad Brains' Dr. Know. The end result made for a somewhat indecisive note for the band to end their career on; while in ways the band showed continual progression and development, that was inevitably shadowed by other forces. Though scattershot, Big Hit does have its definite moments, including a killer one-two opening. "Cherry Blossom" has McCarthy whispering on the verses and singing with more control, but still forcefully, on the chorus, while the moody bass crawl at the heart of the arrangement is one of Bon Harris' best such efforts. "Hear Me Say," meanwhile, shows off some fine metal bashing courtesy of the newly expanded lineup, McCarthy's vocals comparatively restrained on the anthemic chorus. Oddly enough, if there's a key point about the album, it's that the rhythms -- always the band's best point -- often take second place to lead melodies or orchestrations. Sometimes it works quite well, though: check out the guitar-as-rhythm on "I Thought" or the haunting drones and subtle beats starting "Living out of a Bag."