Review Summary: Truly you aren’t hearing another Nine Inch Nails LP; this is the debut, but with a substantial change within production this allows us to hear exactly what Pretty Hate Machine’s atmosphere and overall viciousness was meant to be heard.Pretty Hate Machine
’s relevance for Reznor cannot be overstated. As exceptional as his work was in the 90’s, it was his debut under the Nine Inch Nails moniker that got his fan base through constant touring, an underground buzz and gave the industrial genre an accessible face to its music to boot. Granted the reception and fanfare wasn’t instant as most people would believe, but Pretty Hate Machine
remains to be one of his best and one of the few independent releases to reach platinum – claiming 113 weeks or a bit over 2 years on the Billboard 200. What made Pretty Hate Machine
(at the time of its release) so different was the fact nobody at the time pulled a mainstream audience with a heavy handed electronic approach and disparaging, sometimes vile lyrical content that especially in the 80’s rarely was discussed or even aired. We all know where Reznor would eventually put those themes with his next release, but what was at the time a spacey almost beautifully saturated synth loaded situation within Pretty Hate Machine
is now heard in a meticulous manner where those onced universally loved synths are now grimaced upon and an almost non-existent bass is scrutinized.
Reznor doesn’t *** around when he produces music. Pretty Hate Machine
was as thin as you could get in terms of loudness when attempting to listen. The album almost felt like a minimalist crawl within a poor attempt at industrial nowadays and that is by far not a virtuous statement. His subsequent releases were both masterfully produced by mainly himself and with co-production by Mark “Flood” Ellis (worked on the original Pretty Hate Machine
) and Adrian Sherwood, both would later work on the notable Downward Spiral
. His live albums have always been extremely well received in terms of atmosphere and that isn’t a coincidence; it comes as no surprise that the release of Pretty Hate Machine: 2010 Remaster
is superbly remastered. The dire need for this album to be remastered can only be truly heard in comparison to the original material and the work that Reznor himself would later produce with Nine Inch Nails. The ferocity and pure aggression that his music seems to just erupt with is what makes his music so insatiable in many ways. Most of that seems lost when looking back at the original release of Pretty Hate Machine
, whereas The Downward Spiral
, The Fragile
and so on are extremely energetic and musically drubbing in the most effective way, Pretty Hate Machine
is essentially losing all of what makes Reznor since his later work just lays waste his first effort. Although you could point towards the outdated and overused synths, but the key elements of Nine Inch Nailsstill remain; the melodies and themes within his music truly haven’t changed substantially even during Pretty Hate Machine
The fact remains that if the last sentence wasn’t true then the direction of Reznor’s music after The Downward Spiral
would change at least somewhat, but behind the lowly production in terms of modern work of Pretty Hate Machine
it should stand that with this remaster it would stand up to his best works. Before this release Pretty Hate Machine
is fondly looked upon as a stepping stone to something bigger, but the heart, soul and sweat still lies within this album and this release just allows us to see the true vision and more importantly sound of the original album. Take for instance “That’s What I Get”. The small electronic crunches that follow the intro synth was at best a small and forgettable rupture within the music, but the version within this album is well defined.
The biggest issue you take in account when critiquing something like a remaster is to say is it truly necessary? In all honestly it is with Reznor’s debut because what everyone thought was an outdated synth-laden show in the 1980’s was in fact just poor production with past tools. The bass is heavier and more distinct within every note, but more importantly the synth is given a second life within this release. It is fundamentally what makes the album move and the overall loudness of sound does wonders. The framework for Pretty Hate Machine
are the synths themselves, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise when “Ringfinger” and the album itself boasts a more atmospheric and ample exterior once the chorus’ and synths kicks in; the truth is it’s completely puzzling and surprising how much of a transformation this entire decision makes, it really shouldn’t, but it does. It’s like falling in love with Nine Inch Nails all over again.