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Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine CD (album) cover

PRETTY HATE MACHINE

Nine Inch Nails

 

Crossover Prog

3.44 | 105 ratings

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CassandraLeo
4 stars Pretty Hate Machine doesn't sound like a debut album, and in truth this is because it isn't. Nine Inch Nails' main creative force and sole constant band member Trent Reznor had actually recorded an entire album's worth of songs before this album, but the recordings were shelved and to this day haven't been released. When the album came out the band's record company tried to pigeonhole them as a synth-pop act (which would lead to a protracted legal battle when they demanded a follow-up album in the same style), and listening to it twenty-six years later it's not that difficult to see why. This is much more tuneful and, often, upbeat material than Reznor would become known for later in his career. "Head Like a Hole" is almost an anthemic singalong, while "The Only Time" is almost ecstatic.

The quality of the material here is high for a debut, and the only thing that keeps me from giving it a perfect rating is that Reznor would write better (and more progressive) material later. Regardless, there aren't any major missteps here, though a few songs are less powerful than the album's highlights. "Down in It" apes Skinny Puppy by its creator's own admission; "Kinda I Want To" is an early stab at industrial that doesn't quite gel. But the best material here - amongst it "Head Like a Hole", a scathing attack on greed and capitalism; the anti-religious "Terrible Lie"; the harrowing addiction confessional "Sanctified"; the heartbroken "Something I Can Never Have"; the heartbroken "Sin"; the lustful "The Only Time"; the haunting "Ringfinger" - has deservedly entered the rock canon.

This album isn't as progressive as much of Reznor's later material, but the one-two punch of "Sanctified"-"Something I Can Never Have" probably qualifies the record as being at least "prog-related". Four enthusiastic stars.

CassandraLeo | 4/5 |

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