Posted on November 30, 2009 -
I’m sure you’ve heard the story behind this album, but I’ll tell it again anyway. Pretty Hate Machine became a surprise hit. While it never broke into the top fourty it stayed in the top 100 for over a year, which is quite a feat. TVT felt that if they had more control over the music Trent recorded, than they could have an even bigger hit. Obviously Trent was not happy with this. This album was recorded secretly and is basically his “f**k you” to TVT. This is easily his angriest album, but if you can look past the angst you’ll find a great mini-album.
This is not only his angriest album, but also the only one that would really fall into a Metal category. You can tell that Trent had been listening to a lot of Ministry around this time, because it sounds pretty much like their heavier albums with better singing. That’s not to say that it’s a total rip-off, though. These songs are a lot catchier than Ministry was in their industrial-metal prime, and have a more melodic feel to them. There are also no political messages or samples, which were, and still are, a big part of Ministry.
The album opens with Pinion, a short instrumental that repeats the same 6 chords over and over. It begins almost silent with something that sounds like the wind in the background, but as the song goes on it gets louder and louder until it finally becomes undistorted. 3/5
Immediately after the last few chords of Pinion, Wish begins with a very memorable drum beat. This is probably the most well known song on the album. It has an interesting music video, and it won a Grammy for best Heavy Metal song of 1993. It’s easy to see why. It follows Trent’s signature loud-soft-loud plan, and it’s as good as any of his heavier songs. 5/5
Next is my personal favorite song on the album, Last. A lot of people find the lyrics to be cheesy, and I will say that he goes a bit over the top here. But the music is incredible. It’s very rare that a song can be both this catchy and still retain all of its heaviness, but this songs suceeds. It also contains probably the best solos I’ve heard in an NIN song to date. 5/5
After Last is Help Me I Am In Hell, which is a short, soft instrumental break before the chaos of the next track. It’s almost acoustic, and it keeps the album from becoming monotous. 4/5
The album’s fifth track is the very noisy Hapiness in Slavery, the other single from the album. The video for this song featured performance artist Bob Flanigan being tortured to death. Of course this wasn’t real, but the video was quickly banned from MTV after one airing, which usually gets more publicity for a song than being in rotation anyway. This is probably the only thing to hint at the Downward Spiral, but it still doesn’t feel out of place. 5/5
The actual album finishes with Gave Up. Like Wish, it opens with a memorable drum beat, and is probably the most straightforward rock track on the album. However, it’s also one of those songs that sounds a lot better live than in the studio. The version found on And All That Could’ve Been is much better. This version is still nice, though. 5/5
Depending on your copy of the album, the next track will be Physical, the album is over, or there are many tracks of silence following Gave Up. You should still have the last two tracks in some form, though.
The first of the two bonus tracks is Physical, which is a good cover of Adam Ant. If you listen closely you will hear Trent’s dog barking in the background, and Trent will say “Eat your heart out Stevie”, referring to his situation with TVT. This is a great track quite unlike anything Trent has done. It’s also probably his raunchiest one, even more so than Closer. 5/5
The second of the two tracks is Suck, which has seen many versions, including various demos. While Trent was involved with the first released version by Pigface, this one is a lot different. That version was just Trent’s vocals, Drums, and Bass, but Trent has fleshed it out with guitars on the chorus and a catchier bass line. He also added a bridge to the song. The opinion seems fairly unanimous that this version is better. Even Pigface plays it Trent’s way. This also seems to be one of Trent’s favorite songs to play live. The version on And All That Could Have Been is a bit heavier, but I think they’re equally good. 5/5
If you’re more into metal than alternative rock, than this is the NIN album for you. Even if you’re not really a metal fan, you should still check it out, because it’s a lot more interesting than some metal, and obviously it’s more than just straightforward metal. It’s the best EP Trent ever released and it’s a very important chapter in the history of Nine Inch Nails. If you had any previous interest in NIN and don’t own this, then you shouldn’t hesitate. You won’t be let down.