Nine Inch Nails
Pretty Hate Machine: 2010 Remaster


4.5
superb

Review

by Marko Polovina USER (90 Reviews)
December 1st, 2010 | 110 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

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.



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4.3
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Ryan Munthe (5)
It really is a masterpiece, after all......


Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenophanes
Emeritus
December 1st 2010


10663 Comments


Review is brilliant, as always.

Digging: Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta III - Saturnian Poetry

MassiveAttack
December 1st 2010


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I very much appreciate that comment Xeno thanks.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 1st 2010


7321 Comments


Amazing review. Best I've read today. Pos.

As a side note:

Take for instance the “That’s What I Get”.

You probably should drop the article. But again, very well-written review - was a huge pleasure to read.

fr33convict
December 1st 2010


11705 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review. Really want to hear this.

fr33convict
December 1st 2010


11705 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Listening to this now. It's kind of like a breath of fresh air. The original felt really dated (because it is to be fair.) and this sounds much better.

elephantREVOLUTION
December 1st 2010


2791 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

nice review. i'm so glad this got remastered. i grew up listening to this album and it's still one of my favorites today.

dcha
December 1st 2010


990 Comments


Usually seminal albums get flack for remastering. This one just gets better.

MassiveAttack
December 1st 2010


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for that Irving didn't notice.

nicolauz
December 1st 2010


62 Comments


Doesn't remastering an electronic album seem pointless ?

MassiveAttack
December 1st 2010


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Not with this one. The original really lacked any type of volume. The bass was almost unheard of and tough to hear and the synths seemed dim. The problem you have with remastering is everyone talks about "loudness wars". Where if you bring up the volume it really doesn't do anything, but deter the quality of the music; if you notice between the original and this version you can hear the synths, bass, and general samples far more crisper than ever before, which is why this is most definitely justified.

By the way I didn't mention in my review, but there is an added track. A cover song by Queen called "Get Down, Make Love" and it fits perfectly with the rest of the album.

Defeater
December 1st 2010


5782 Comments


Yeah this needed a re-release.

Zyb
December 1st 2010


40 Comments


Pretty Hate Machine’s relevance for Reznor cannot be understated

I think you mean it "cannot be overstated".

Also, when you say "his next release" you seem to be talking about The Downward Spiral and not Broken. I've found that Broken doesn't get nearly enough credit in reviews of NIN. It's not as if he jumped straight from the relatively sparse sound of PHM to TDS, and it holds up strongly on its own.

Some of the phrasing could be better IMO, but otherwise a good review.


The remaster definitely sounds more vicious and has a more anguished or tortured vibe. I'd put it somewhere between a 4 or 4.5, with a bit of a tilt for the historical significance.

MassiveAttack
December 1st 2010


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sorta, I mean Broken EP + The Downward Spiral because if not for the legal problems Broken EP probably wouldn't of been as destructive as it sounds. After all he was really fucking pissed off and most of the EP is about him being raped (metaphorically). I mention The Downward Spiral because it is the next album, but both work in any case and yes I did mean overstated..sigh stupid mistake.

Zyb
December 1st 2010


40 Comments


The sound of Broken was informed by the live incarnations of the songs from PHM, he actually stated such in an interview from '92. If you've listened to the versions on the live albums then you can hear how similar they are to the songs from Broken.

MassiveAttack
December 1st 2010


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

That's interesting I never knew that. I know that he got most of his inspiration for that EP from his record company hounding him to release another PHM mainstream appeal bullshit. He couldn't stand it and worked under other names to avoid legalities and such, but that is pretty cool.

Zyb
December 1st 2010


40 Comments


I think there is much more depth to Broken than you are giving credit for. It is, after all, the only release to have an accompanying movie to go with the whole thing.

WhiteNoise
December 1st 2010


3253 Comments


"The original felt really dated (because it is to be fair.)"

To be honest I've never really enjoyed the downward spiral because it really does sound dated nowardays.

Zyb
December 1st 2010


40 Comments


^ have you heard the 2004 remaster?

Willie
Moderator
December 1st 2010


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I love it. That's the confirmation that I was looking for before buying this. PHM is easily my favorite NIN album.

Digging: Mors Principium Est - Dawn Of The 5th Era

Defeater
December 1st 2010


5782 Comments


Did someone just say The Downward Spiral sounds dated? Really?



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