Nine Inch Nails
Pretty Hate Machine: 2010 Remaster


5.0
classic

Review

by Ryan Munthe USER (7 Reviews)
December 5th, 2010 | 59 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It really is a masterpiece, after all...

The most infuriating thing in the past, was when I’d find a Nine Inch Nails fan, wherever they might be, and ask them “What’s your favorite Nine Inch Nails album?” Then, I’d receive the unfortunate reply of “Pretty Hate Machine.” There was no better way to leave me in pure astonishment and almost a bit of anger; how in the world is it possible to say Pretty Hate Machine and it’s lyrics about the devil ***ing in the back of his car is better than the genius that was The Downward Spiral, The Fragile, or even Year Zero? There was no better way to boggle my mind. Maybe it’s because I grew up a bit too late, a bit out of Reznor’s hey-day, but, seriously, how in the world is Pretty Hate Machine Reznor’s best album?

It’s quite simple, honestly. Now that I’ve heard Pretty Hate Machine the way it was meant to be heard, it’s pretty obvious. Before, Pretty Hate Machine was hamstrung by being potentially the-worst-recorded-and-produced-album-ever, but now, with the tinny, shrill sound of the TVT half-baked production job gone, Pretty Hate Machine basks in the glory that it always should have. Head Like a Hole broods with dark, menacing guitar lines layered thick that were shallow before, and hell, Kinda I Want To, quite a forgettable track before, becomes one of the album’s best songs immediately. All because Reznor turned up the volume, right?

Not necessarily. Yes, Pretty Hate Machine is louder. Finally. And yes, the production has been thickened. It doesn’t sound as shallow. And finally, yes, that shrill high-end has disappeared. Some will say Reznor caved in to the Loudness War, but honestly, Pretty Hate Machine sounds thick. It sounds punchy, brutal, aggressive, angry, sad, emotional, and simply badass. It really feels like a 80s synthpop album released in 2010. With a good pair of headphones, Head Like a Hole’s drums pound at your brain, Sanctified’s ever-irritating bassline thumps away, and the guitar riff in Sin is just as dirty as ever. Yet, the songs that benefited most from the remaster were, curiously, Kinda I Want To and Ringfinger. Kinda I Want To has a hidden bassline among the numerous electronic glitches that was turned up, and the dynamics jump back and forth with a very menacing grit, creating a very dark atmosphere. With headphones, you hear the audio jump back and forth from one speaker to the next, and the ending--no joke--sounds like one of Year Zero’s numerous electronic breakdowns. Same goes for Ringfinger. One of Reznor’s more forgotten tracks, it dabbles with Depeche Mode-inspired synthpop in the beginning before railing into a sampled, scratched-out ending that has the dynamics of The Great Destroyer. It’s so obvious that the Reznor of 2010 oversaw the remastering job, if Pretty Hate Machine were re-recorded, this is what it would sound like.

So, yeah, Pretty Hate Machine sounds great and finally is what it should be. But does it’s petty teenage angst and early-Ministry electronics hold up in 2010?

They really do.

There is no angry music nowadays--at least not like there was in the 90s--so, a nice, angsty album flows well and the spite Reznor’s spits out of the rejection of society with Head Like a Hole or rejection of himself with Down in It is just as menacing as it always has been. “Bow down before the one you serve/you’re going to get what you deserve,” still sounds as evil as it always has. Yet, Something I Can Never Have still is the emotional wrench of the album, as it combines sadness, anger and misery damn near perfectly. Yet, there really still is no excuse for the lyrics “Now I’m slipping on the tears you’ve made me cry,” or, my personal favorite “And the devil wants to *** me in the back of his car,” but due to the pure gravity of the angst on the rest of the album, these two hysterical lines are passable. And as the album turns into another one of Reznor’s sex fantasies towards the second half, the mind of angry teenager is captured perfectly. The fact that Reznor sounds, simply, so tortured here and has grown into a well-respected businessman of the music industry even could give hope to the young kids relating with Reznor. So, yeah, Pretty Hate Machine’s lyrics are still relevant; if not more so than in the past.

Musically, Pretty Hate Machine is still a revelation. Before this album, industrial, and well alternative rock as a whole was dished out to a far-left side of the mainstream with the ridiculous 80s catchy synthpop dominating the center. So what did Reznor do here to capture a huge audience? Mix the catchiness and accessible nature of the mainstream with the more aggressive lyrical ideas and the more accessible sounds of industrial. And it worked--I’d go so far as to say Pretty Hate Machine brought alternative rock to the mainstream and not Nevermind. Because Reznor intertwined catchiness and hooks on Head Like a Hole while spewing out industrial-sized anger and an industrial sound and made it a hit. Or, on Down in It, he took the traditional 80s Skinny Puppy-like industrial anthem, added a catchy chorus line and some talk-rapping and made it into a massive radio single. Most astonishing of all was that he had the balls to throw a vulnerable ballad in the middle with an industrial backdrop that would become one of Reznor’s trademarks in the future. And with its new production, a lot of the old tracks sound completely modern, which is astonishing in and of its own right (Sin, Kinda I Want To, Terrible Lie).

Pretty Hate Machine, twenty-one years later, can now claim its spot as a true classic. Because it is. Reznor, ever so perfectly and meticulously, crafted an emotional, angry epic in 1989 burdened by its piss-poor production that held it back from being the classic it really is. Through the combination of a surprising increased relevance, amazing production, and pure staying power of the album, Pretty Hate Machine stands alone as a pure industrial masterpiece.



Recent reviews by this author
The Strokes AnglesFoo Fighters Wasting Light
Muse The ResistancePavement Terror Twilight
Muse Origin of SymmetryThe Smashing Pumpkins Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, Vol. 2
user ratings (225)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
Marko Polovina (4.5)
Truly you aren’t hearing another Nine Inch Nails LP; this is the debut, but with a substantial cha...


Comments:Add a Comment 
rjmunthe
December 5th 2010


395 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks. It was kind of long, which is all I was worried about.

Puzzles
December 5th 2010


3065 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I don't know, man, you have to ask yourself. Is this really that good? You're basically saying that this is as good as The Downward Spiral, and we all know how much better than this it is.
Good review, though. Pos'd

rjmunthe
December 5th 2010


395 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I don't know, after listening to the remaster, it feels as good as The Downward Spiral or The Fragile...

Puzzles
December 5th 2010


3065 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well when you're reviewing albums you should probably focus on how it actually is than how it feels to you. Praising things with 5 ratings based on "it feels like it" is generally regarded as "fanboyism".

dirkschamgganbad
December 5th 2010


131 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

you should probably focus on how it actually is than how it feels to you


shut the fuck up puzzles you're an idiot

its obviously his opinion that this is on par with those other albums and he explains why in the
review

rjmunthe
December 5th 2010


395 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah, seriously dude, the whole review is explaining why I think it's as good as The Downward Spiral.

DoubtGin
December 5th 2010


6752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"i found downward spiral at a shop for one dollar, should have picked it up but i bought bob dylan, neil young, j mascis and R.E.M instead"

depending on the respective albums, you did fine

Meatplow
December 5th 2010


5524 Comments


meh, NIN is severely overrated

haven't heard the remaster but I have serious doubts it'll change my opinion on the album much, probably a 3-3.5. entry level industrial music, the beginning of the end for the most fruitful period of the genre as it started becoming largely dominated by shitty alternative rock and metal influences into the bastardised mish-mash of mediocrity people know it as today.

the early 90's was a good time for industrial I just feel Reznor is patchy and one of the most undeserving artists to get the level of acclaim he does. I mean, it's okay. That is all I can say for all of his albums I have heard.

dirkschamgganbad
December 5th 2010


131 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

agree 100%

reznor is, and always has been, a hack

Willie
Moderator
December 5th 2010


16131 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

meh, NIN is severely overrated

haven't heard the remaster but I have serious doubts it'll change my opinion on the album much, probably a 3-3.5. entry level industrial music, the beginning of the end for the most fruitful period of the genre as it started becoming largely dominated by shitty alternative rock and metal influences into the bastardised mish-mash of mediocrity people know it as today.

the early 90's was a good time for industrial I just feel Reznor is patchy and one of the most undeserving artists to get the level of acclaim he does. I mean, it's okay. That is all I can say for all of his albums I have heard.
I agree that NIN is largely overrated, but I think a lot of that is due to ignorance of what else the genre has to offer (combined with the large amounts of shit in the genre, as well).

It might be entry-level, and the music is definitely pretty shallow and simple, but it was kind of revolutionary in that it brought a human element and featured a vocalist that was worth a damn. Also, there's a catchiness that the overall genre really lacked back then. Also, you might not like the way the genre split and evolved after this, but probably helped the genre to have some diversity (plus the original sound didn't go away or anything).

Trent deserves recognition for introducing more people to industrial than any other band ever. His albums have probably served as gateways to countless other industrial artists.

Digging: Kenn Nardi - Dancing With the Past

rjmunthe
December 5th 2010


395 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I completely disagree with NIN being overrated, but absolutely, NIN was a gateway to the industrial genre as a whole, for me.

OutOfMyself
December 5th 2010


688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've never been much of a NIN fan to say the least, but I saw your review and figured I'd give it another chance. Safe to say my opinion has changed.

BassDemon333
December 5th 2010


3414 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Its true about NIN being a gateway, NIN is what got me into Industrial.

MUNGOLOID
December 5th 2010


4350 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

first half of this album owns all.

Zyb
December 5th 2010


40 Comments


Ugh, people are still whining about Trent "selling out" industrial? He's always acknowledged that it wasn't "real" industrial, he does his own thing with it (and he obviously has an appreciation for the more pure stuff if you look at the contributors to the remix albums.)

Here's a '92 article where he sort of talks about NIN's place in music:
http://www.theninhotline.net/archives/articles/manager/display_article.php?id=540

dirkschamgganbad
December 5th 2010


131 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nobody was whining

he just said that he feels NIN are mediocre compared to a lot of other artists in the genre and that reznor's influence wasn't necessarily positive

deal with it

omgraptors
December 5th 2010


817 Comments


the sexiest album of all time

Zyb
December 5th 2010


40 Comments


yea and you called him a hack

The "haters" seem to look at it as industrial marred by pop instead of pop using industrial to explore new creative areas.

Meatplow
December 5th 2010


5524 Comments


Actually, no. First wave groups such as Cabaret Voltaire, SPK, Foetus, Chris & Cosey and Psychic TV incorporated pop influences to limited degrees of success, this is not the problem for me.

I agree that NIN is largely overrated, but I think a lot of that is due to ignorance of what else the genre has to offer (combined with the large amounts of shit in the genre, as well).

Trent deserves recognition for introducing more people to industrial than any other band ever. His albums have probably served as gateways to countless other industrial artists.


Truth, I can't deny this.

It might be entry-level, and the music is definitely pretty shallow and simple, but it was kind of revolutionary in that it brought a human element and featured a vocalist that was worth a damn.


idk about this, there were at least a few good vocalists working in post-industrial genres in the 80's. I don't why Trent is such great shakes in this regard.

Also, there's a catchiness that the overall genre really lacked back then.


Once again, I think this is arguable.

Also, you might not like the way the genre split and evolved after this, but probably helped the genre to have some diversity (plus the original sound didn't go away or anything).


Actually, it did. Synthpop, New Wave and post-punk influences fell out of favour. Not that I can blame the musical zeitgeist for changing, it was bound to happen. Stuff like noise, dark ambient and neofolk continued to evolve and refine itself, but by far and large nowadays today industrial seems to be all about a mediocre blend of EBM, industrial metal, coldwave influences and the hundreds of barely distinctive subgenres which stem from these. Not that some bands don't do this well, you have a good way of digging them up after all. I wish I had the patience.

Ugh, people are still whining about Trent "selling out" industrial? He's always acknowledged that it wasn't "real" industrial, he does his own thing with it (and he obviously has an appreciation for the more pure stuff if you look at the contributors to the remix albums.)

Here's a '92 article where he sort of talks about NIN's place in music:
http://www.theninhotline.net/archives/articles/manager/display_article.php?id=540


I've completely understood this for a long time, take note I didn't throw around terms like "real industrial" (technically, nothing that was released outside of the original Industrial Records label is "real industrial"). This doesn't make his music any more palatable to me, though I think he touches on the odd moment of brilliance which makes me wish I could like NIN more.

Zyb
December 5th 2010


40 Comments


You call it "entry level industrial" and say that those industrial groups incorporated pop "influences". This tells me that you're seeing NIN as industrial first and evaluating it from that perspective. NIN is starting from pop, not just being influenced by it. It's more like Depeche Mode in that way.

L: I read somewhere that you almost feel guilty or responsible for bringing industrial music into the mainstream.

T: I don't feel guilty. I don't think I've done that. There's a scene that has been flourishing for the past five years or more. Underground club oriented danceable music has been labeled industrial due to the lack of coming up with a new name. Nine Inch Nails/Industrial, Industrial/Nine Inch Nails. I'm so tired of thinking about it I can't even tell you. What was originally called industrial music was about 20 years ago Throbbing Gristle and Test Department. We have very little to do with it other than there is noise in my music and there is noise in theirs. I'm working in the context of a pop song structure whereas those bands didn't. And because someone didn't come up with a new name that separates those two somewhat unrelated genres, it tends to irritate all the old school fans waving their flags of alternativeness and obscurity. So, I'd say I've borrowed from certain styles and bands like that. Maybe I've made it more accessible. And maybe by making it more accessible it's less exclusive. I just make music that I want to make, that's interesting. That's extreme for what I want it to be extreme for and then I put it out and the media says it's this or it's that.




You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy