Third re-release of the debut full-length album by legendary American Industrial Rock/Synth-Pop band.
The album is compiled of reworked tracks from the band's "Purest Feeling" demo, as well as songs composed after its original recording.
Virtually ignored upon its 1989 release, "Pretty Hate Machine" gradually became a "word-of-mouth" cult favorite; despite frequent critical bashings, its stature and historical importance only grew in hindsight. In addition to its stealthy rise to prominence, part of the album's legend was that budding auteur Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails' only constant band member, took advantage of his low-level job at a Cleveland Studio to begin recording it. Reznor had a background in Synth-Pop, and the vast majority of "Pretty Hate Machine" was Electronic. Synths voiced all the main riffs, driven by pounding drum machines; distorted guitars were an important textural element, but not the primary focus.
"Pretty Hate Machine" was something unique in Industrial music - certainly, no one else was attempting the balladry of "Something I Can Never Have", but the crucial difference was even simpler. Instead of numbing the listener with mechanical repetition, "Pretty Hate Machine"'s bleak electronics were subordinate to catchy riffs and verse-chorus song structures, which was why it built such a rabid following with so little publicity. That innovation was the most important step in bringing Industrial music to a wide audience, as proven by the frequency with which late-'90s Alternative Metal bands copied NIN's interwoven guitar/synth textures. It was a new soundtrack for adolescent angst - noisily aggressive and coldly detached, tied together by a dominant personality.
Reznor's tortured confusion and self-obsession gave Industrial music a human voice, a point of connection. His lyrics were filled with betrayal, whether by lovers, society, or God; it was essentially the sound of childhood illusions shattering, and Reznor was not taking it lying down. Plus, the absolute dichotomies in his world -- there was either purity and perfection, or depravity and worthlessness -- made for smashing melodrama. Perhaps the greatest achievement of "Pretty Hate Machine" was that it brought emotional extravagance to a genre whose main theme had nearly always been dehumanization.
Although the album was critically and commercially successful (especially for an independent label), Trent Reznor feuded with TVT Records during the album's promotion. The album went out of print in 1997 because of the much-publicized disagreement between Reznor and TVT Records.
Although it peaked at number 75 on the Billboard 200, the album gained popularity through "word of mouth" and developed an underground following. "Pretty Hate Machine" became one of the first independently released albums to attain a Platinum certification, with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certifying the album 3x Platinum on May 12, 2003, indicating sales surpassing 3.000.000 copies in the United States. Slant Magazine placed the album at number 50 on its list of the "Best Albums of the 1980s". The album was also certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on November 1, 1995, following its number 67 peak on the UK Albums Chart. "Pretty Hate Machine" spent a total of 115 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart; the singles "Down in It", "Head Like a Hole", and "Sin" received moderate radio airplay.
Remastered reissue with original cover art. Release includes insert with lyrics.
The Bicycle Music Company/Concord Music Group, Inc., 1989/2011 (B0015767-01). Made in USA.
1. Head Like A Hole 4:59
2. Terrible Lie 4:38
3. Down In It 3:46
4. Sanctified 5:48
5. Something I Can Never Have 5:54
6. Kinda I Want To 4:33
7. Sin 4:06
8. That's What I Get 4:30
9. The Only Time 4:47
10. Ringfinger 5:45
Total playing time: 48:46 min.