Bad Witch (also known as Halo 32) was released on June 22, 2018 on Capitol Records. This album acts as the third installment of a trilogy by Nine Inch Nails, following the 2016 release of Not The Actual Events and the 2017 release of Add Violence. The album leaked on June 18, 2018.
Like the two previous releases, Bad Witch is available as a 12" vinyl, a digital download and as a CD. Despite the fact that Not The Actual Events and Add Violence were marketed as EPs, Bad Witch is marketed as an album. In a post on ETS, Trent Reznor explained the decision behind the format change by stating that "EPs show up with singles in Spotify and other streaming services = they get lost easier. EPs feel less important in today’s music-isn’t-as-important-as-it-once-was world. Why make it easier to ignore?"
An exclusive run (limited to 2400), off-white vinyl pressing was also offered through Merchbar as part of the #SpotifyFansFirst campaign.
A limited number of CD and vinyl copies pre-ordered through Australian retailer JB Hi-Fi came with a card autographed by Reznor and Atticus Ross.
Bad Witch was officially announced on May 10, 2018. The official nin.com website description states: "CONCLUSION. SHADOWS ON THE CAVE WALL." This is likely a reference to Plato's allegory of the cave.
On May 19, 2018, at "The Physical World" ticket presale, an exclusive listening station was made available for those in attendance. It gave fans the opportunity to hear the songs "Ahead Of Ourselves" and "Play The Goddamned Part" before the album's release.
The album makes use of saxophone on several tracks, more than any previous NIN recording. This is explained in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, where the interviewer compares the use of sax to that on David Bowie's Blackstar:
Clearly, Bowie is front of mind, and that was certainly an influence. In terms of the precision of arrangement, I think back to [being] younger, reading about Psychedelic Furs as a bunch of students that all picked instruments and learned enough to make a record. As someone that had studied his ass off how to play an instrument, I thought, "You can do that?" Some people worried about technique or if it’s in tune, or if it’s played well. [For Bad Witch, I thought] let’s just use it and add to the mayhem and message we are trying to convey. All this time [the sax] had been just sitting in my studio staring at me. Taunting me.
Unlike the two preceding EPs, the title of Bad Witch is not derived from a lyric sung or printed in the album’s digital or liner notes. A definitive explanation of the title is yet to be revealed.
The "scratch marks" seen in the Not The Actual Events and Add Violence cover artworks appear in a different form on the right border of the back cover of this album.
An alternate front cover was found, depicting different hues and contrasts on all five boxes, as well as a different hand and a different computer chip. The alternate cover appeared on a Caroline Records promo CD.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Atticus commented: "There's a primitive aspect or reflection of who we are in these times on there. It seems like we've been led. And I think we implied that in the cover, staring at shadows on the wall."
- Nine Inch Nails: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
- Written, arranged, produced, programmed and performed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
- Additional vocals "Shit Mirror": Mariqueen Maandig Reznor and Ian Astbury
- Mix: Alan Moulder
- Engineering: Chris Richardson and Justin McGrath
- Mastering: Tom Baker at Baker Mastering
- Art Direction: 12:01- Office of Hassan Rahim
- Legal: Zia Modabber for Katten Munchin Rosenman LLP, Ross Rosen for Ross B. Rosen & Associates, LLC
- Management: Silva Artist Management
- Booking: Marc Geiger for WME
- Business Management: William Harper and Michael Walsh for Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman
Thank you: Mariqueen Maandig Reznor, Claudia Sarne, Steve Barnett, Michelle Jubelirer, Ashley Newton, Ambrosia Healy, Arjun Pulijal, Erin Cooney, Ed Scott, Jim Chancellor, Andrew Lazonby, Cesar Rosas
© 2018 Form and Texture (ASCAP) / Administered by Kobalt Songs Music Publishing, Songs In the Key of Mink (BMI) / Administered by Downtown DMP Songs
All songs from Bad Witch have been played live except "Play The Goddamned Part" and "I'm Not From This World".