Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Nine Inch Nails ~ Pretty Hate Machine

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: industrial, experimental, heavy metal
Label: TVT Records
Year: 1989
Home: n/a

Members: Trent Reznor ~ all instruments

Additional: Richard Patrick ~ guitar

Is there an industrial metal album as influencial, if not as well-known outside of the genre, as Pretty Hate Machine, which set a new bar for not just industrial but rock music in general? Industrial music is usually known for its sheering wall of alienating unemotional sounds that imitate what the genre is named after, but Pretty Hate Machine sounds anything like a machine, nor alienating, nor unemotional. I'll even confess to having sex to this album, the first time I heard it complete, as its emotional overtures were perfect for the moment, let alone being rhythmically relevant. For an album made up of electronic keyboards, drums & distorted guitars it unexpectantly creeps up & sucks the listener in ... who before long might even be singing along. What makes it so powerful, let alone just haunting, is the space between the notes. So much industrial aims for an onslaught of layered sounds without understanding the balance between thick musical walls & thin almost transparent moments. This is the key to so many bands, going back to Led Zeppelin & Black Sabbath - knowing when to let the onslaught up because a few basic sounds can be just as numbing as a wall of speed. Lou Reed proved a long time ago that a little distortion goes a long way. Pretty Hate Machine further takes industrial metal into a new direction as Trent Reznor's lyrics of pain & sorrow bring a new emotion to the music in a way industrial had never been able to achieve before. In that sense, it actually draws more from the cold music of the synthpop electric minimalism movement, more than prominently noticeable in Pretty Hate Machine, than any of the industrial metal that it supposedly is associated with with an array of untouchable heart-wrenching ballads (i.e. "Sanctified", "Something I Can Never Have", "That's What I Get") that would make Gary Numan proud while adding a new dimension to industrial metal. Textures is the key word here. It's a mix of ingredients that might have failed if put in the hands of any less of a genius.

(featured on the Roman Midnight Music CD Reviews & Interview podcast: episode 17 "Industrial Metal", April 2011, click here to listen)


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