although nine inch nails mastermind trent reznor became the poster boy for industrial rock in the early 1990s, his '89 debut, 'pretty hate machine', actually has a stronger foothold in '80s synth-pop. the guitar-heavy opener, 'head like a hole,' is the most aggressive track on the album and proved to be the signature song for reznor's initial breakthrough, but much of the disc sounds like depeche mode in a particularly bad mood. all of the tracks on 'pretty hate machine' are based on synthesizer lines and programmed beats, with other elements - such as the distinctive bass on 'sanctified' and sampled explosions on 'that's what i get' - filling out the sound. despite reznor's morose lyrics, a number of hate machine's finest moments are energetic dance tunes, particularly 'down in it' and the surging 'sin.' oddly enough, reznor's fiercer - and seemingly less accessible - subsequent work (the 'broken' ep and 'the downward spiral') led directly to his mainstream success, but 'pretty hate machine' reveals where the nine inch nails aesthetic started out.
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