Written By Braddon S. Williams
Nine Inch Nails: Pretty Hate Machine
Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails made a fan of me with the arrival of 1989’s Pretty Hate Machine. Industrial music with heart and raw human emotion was Reznor’s particular form of genius, and Pretty Hate Machine functioned on multiple levels due to the strength of the songwriting.
Head Like A Hole was the breakout single, and it was full of rage, angst, and rebellion. The video gained NIN an instant cult of fanatical followers, and Reznor’s touring version of the band started building a legacy of revolutionary live performances. Other memorable songs included Terrible Lie, Sin, Sanctified, Down In It, That’s What I Get, Ringfinger, and the monumental Something I Can Never Have (my favorite Nails song).
Reznor was critical of the album’s production, and it is certainly nowhere near the level of sound that listeners would become accustomed to with subsequent NIN albums.
I always hoped Reznor would take the time to re-record Pretty Hate Machine with state of the art sound…the songs are good enough that it would have been a project worthy of salivating over!
As it is, Pretty Hate Machine established Reznor as a force to be reckoned with, and as a sort of antidote to much of the grunge explosion that would rule the music world in the following years. For myself personally, PanterA and NIN were a welcome respite from the Seattle sound (and I loved a lot of that stuff, too) in the ’90’s, so I will take a flawed production with the quality of songwriting that was present on Pretty Hate Machine.