Album Reviews of the 80s

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Nine Inch Nails, "Pretty Hate Machine" / 1989 Review by: Nick
Just edging into the latter half of the eighties, came the incendiary sound of Nine Inch Nails. At this early stage, Trent Reznor's song structures were not particularly progressive, unlike some of his later material and as a result, many would argue that certain songs on this album border on the predictable. However, the sound was an original, brooding cocktail of rock, synth, classical, hip-hop and yes, pop. Perhaps Reznor's early talent manifested in his ability to aviod genre labelling. As a result, many opted for the cop-out of labelling N.I.N. an 'industrial rock' band, one of the many 'alternative' and humorously ironic, 'anti-label' labels. Yet, Reznor's artistic output hardly sounded like 'Throbbing Gristle', a band considered by many to be the pioneers of 'industrial'. Instead it is perhaps better to see Reznor as the true visionary he is, rather than pigeon-hole him into a particular genre, since he always tries new things and pushes the envelope, like many great artists. Yes, we've heard elements of Pretty Hate Machine before, but not like this. This serves as a testament to Reznor's artistic integrity. Forget labels, focus on the music. Rarely backing down an inch , the songs just ooze attitude (Head Like A Hole, Sin). Where they don't, and Reznor plays against 'type', they simply bring the listener back down, to drown them in a pool of ambient bliss and melancholy (Something I Can Never Have). With huge choruses, bold soundscapes, dark, jagged riffs, great dynamics, diversity and thought provoking lyrics, this album boasts both instant appeal and depth. Such qualities are possessed by few in popular music today, but Reznor uses them to full effect, lending the album a rich, visceral, timeless quality. This is honest music by a true artist. I don't have to prove any of these points. Trent Reznor has already done that. And he got better with time, as well. Just listen and see.

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