CMJ Music

December 1990

Pretty Hate Machine

Trent Reznor is the evil genius behind the band Nine Inch Nails (or rather, the evil genius who is the band Nine Inch Nails), as he mashes together sounds, samples and styles to create a demonic techno dervish that's as daring and intriguingly complex as it can be brutal. While others in the Wax Trax school of sinister laboratory technicians often pretend to be so grisly and scary, in reality their music often remains little more than safe and saccharine technopop overlain with a few clanging samples and occasional chain rattling; Nine Inch Nails, however, are the real, ugly, evil thing - sharp, piercing, staticky and utterly jarring to listen to. Pretty Hate Machine positively bristles with sublimated aggression, clanging metal and psychosexual nastiness, and somehow Reznor manages in songs like "Head Like A Hole" and "Kinda I Want To" to make it all sound kinda catchy, too. Aided by a heavy cast of producers and mix technicians, including among them Flood (Depeche Mode, Erasure) and John Fryer (Love And Rockets), and with Adrian Sherwood and Keith LeBlanc adding particularly Tackheaded bass-heavy beats to several tracks, NIN's cuts sizzle with currents and undercurrents of electricity and vicious tension. Further nails hammering the coffin shut: "Terrible Lie," "Down In It" and "Ringfinger."

CMJ Music Report

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Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails
This article is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously located at SUS.