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3.82 | 31 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1989

Filed under Non-Metal


1. Head Like A Hole (5:01)
2. Terrible Lie (4:38)
3. Down In It (3:48)
4. Sanctified (5:50)
5. Something I Can Never Have (5:54)
6. Kinda I Want To (4:35)
7. Sin (4:05)
8. That's What I Get (4:30)
9. The Only Time (4:49)
10. Ringfinger (5:40)

Total Time 48:54


- Trent Reznor / vocals, all instruments
- Richard Patrick / guitars (track 4)

About this release

Halo 2

October 20, 1989

Remastered and reissued (Halo 2R) in 2010 with the following bonus track:

11. Get Down, Make Love (Queen cover) (4:19)

Thanks to windhawk, Lynx33, Unitron, adg211288 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Dark, brooding, and emotional, Trent Reznor broke onto the music scene with his 1989 album titled Pretty Hate Machine. he envisioned for a band that would, using metallic undertones to bring out a more righteous clang to his point, make points of sociopolitical commentary. This album was written and recorded to embody this spirit. Did Pretty Hate Machine accomplish what it was made for? ...No, I'd say it didn't.

The album overall achieved a good round of applause from most critics, although not all of them took well to Reznor's work. However most progressive rock fans that at the least call Reznor a 'prog' artist and his band a prog band would do well to stay away from this one. Instead of the usually dreary electronic use most commonly found in artists such as Stabbing Westward, Orgy, Ministry, and later NiN works, the album functions around a steady theme of catchy alternative rock beats and composition, albeit with some amateur technological use overlapping it.

Pretty Hate Machine brings to the table a large theme of anger, with blatantly spiteful lyrics and, as stated before, social commentary. But that doesn't excuse the fact that this album is annoying. I've seen many bands accomplish commentary such as this and do it well. A band that comes to mind are Porcupine Tree, which actually implies subtly the ideology of anti- systematical lyrics mixed in with their enjoyable music. Here, it's more along the lines of Reznor and his emo friends recording an album during their aggressive teenage phase. Other than that, the songs are just plain boring. The 'catchy' riffs used on the album are over repetitive and rely on a similar theme, giving the illusion that all of the songs are the same. The only track that I've found to stand out is the ever present 'Head Like a Hole', although even that song is just a casual listen and not material for a respectful intake of the album itself.

So, all in all, this is a skippable one. Mostly because any fan of Nine Inch Nails would enjoy their later works more than the earlier material, but even if your not a fan you would do well not to pick this one up. Alternative electronic rock? No thanks.
Bearing a close resemblance to a much more synthesiser-focused and guitar-light version of Ministry's Land of Rape and Honey, the debut album of Nine Inch Nails/Trent Reznor may not be the most original industrial album out there but it's certainly one of the catchiest ones. Reznor proves to be an adept and skilled judge of the use of sounds, both musical and those which would be regarded traditionally as unmusical, to create a complete sonic landscape, from the anger that dominates most of the tracks to the frustration and sorrow captured in Something I Can Never Have.

Whilst it might not be devastatingly original in terms of the industrial music ideas it uses, it is unique in the extent to which it transforms what had been an austere and somewhat unapproachable genre into a compelling and accessible format. Some may sneer at it, but I think it's a great listen.
Angst Filled Powerful Debut

Pretty Hate Machine had to be one of the most groundbreaking debut albums ever. While Ministry was making inroads into metal at the same time, Trent Reznor combined Industrial Composition with metal edge to create a record that would influence hundred if not thousands of bands to come.

"Head Like a Hole," aside from being a completely fresh and powerful sound at the time, is simply one of the best songs expressing anger ever recorded. It has two of the best hook lines of all metal in "Bow Down Before the One You Serve," and "Head Like a Hole, Black as Your Soul, I'd Rather Die than Give You Control." The music is throbbing and brutal. The vocals drip with pain. In 1989, this was simply amazing music.

Though there are some other great songs on the album "Terrible Lie," "Something I Can Never Have," the album gets a little same-y by the end. Reznor will go on to become one of the biggest stars of the 90's with even more depraved inner darkness. But this is the beginning, the source of it all. Without this there is no Rob Zombie, no Marilyn Manson (an artist that Reznor transformed into a sideshow into a major rockstar).

Essential industrial. Down to four stars as it's industrial first and metal more in feel, and the failure to maintain the power.

Members reviews

I'm not sure if I'd enjoy as much these days as back when I was 18 in 1991 when I bought the cassette, as my tastes in music has changed quite a lot since that time. I remembered when I bought the cassette tripping out over the packaging, the cassette itself was black, which was very uncommon. Most major cassette releases in 1989 used clear cassettes (as been a common practice since about 1985).

For those who fancy the idea of more accessible industrial music, it's little wonder why Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails had became so popular. For mainstream listeners, there's plenty to bring discomfort with. Most people are familiar with "Head Like a Hole", and you can tell right away this isn't exactly Skinny Puppy here. There were actual hooks, but this still won't exactly appeal to the mainstream audience. I always got a kick off the chorus that went "Bow down before the one you serve/You're going to get what you deserve". Obviously Reznor was critical of greed. There's plenty of other great stuff here, including "Terrible Lie", "Down in It", "Sanctified" and "Ringfinger". "Something I Can Never Have" is basically a ballad, given this is Nine Inch Nail, it's one rather disturbing ballad. I really like those synth rhythms to "Ringfinger".

As mentioned, I'm not sure if I'd get the same enjoyment now as when I was in my late teens, neither have I heard this for literally years, so this review goes by memory. While The Downward Spiral was more popular, if you're a fan, you don't want to forget this 1989 debut.

Ratings only

  • GWLHM76
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  • Daniel Wallace
  • kalacho
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  • serenitypaintedeath
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  • Unitron
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  • kx1992
  • ArmsLikeChains
  • vmoore
  • Coracin
  • F611
  • Pogonomy
  • (De)progressive
  • Zargus
  • Colt
  • Metallica999
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  • Tigergilles
  • snowman1980
  • Phoenix87
  • Fantacide
  • sauromat
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