Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Metal Machine Music:

Nine Inch Nails and the Industrial Uprising
Produced and edited by Alec Lindsell

First of all, the title is too long. I'm already exhausted just typing it. It does explain what you're in for, though: two and half hours' worth of stock footage and nerdy dudes from Revolver and wherever (plus one proud Scotsman from my very own magazine!), yapping about Trent Reznor's importance to a musical genre that he really had very little to do with.

There is little argument that Nine Inch Nails created some of the bleakest, noisiest, and most disaffected sounds of the 1990's, and that Reznor is an accomplished artist and musical visionary, but his genre lies somewhere between disco-metal and synth-pop, not industrial. They were calling all kinds of crazy shit industrial in the 1990's. Rob Zombie, even. Authentic industrial music is an ear-battering din created by misanthropic maniacs. Industrial is Throbbing Gristle, SPK, Whitehouse, Non, Test Dept, stuff like that. Everything else that got tagged industrial over the years (and in this documentary), bands like Skinny Puppy, Front 242, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, Frontline Assembly, Ministry, Chemlab, etc...it's all disco, man. Some of it is pretty bitchin' - Chemlab is one of my favorite bands ever, of all time - it's still just dance music.

Maybe I'm nitpicking, but if you're looking for a reasonable history of the industrial movement here, you're mostly out of luck, because as far as this doc is concerned, every other industrial artist just curled up and fuckin' died once Pretty Hate Machine hit the streets. It does, at least, open up with an overview of Throbbing Gristle, including some interview snippets with Genesis P Orridge, who looks terrifying with tits. So that was fun.

The rest is a steady blow-by-blow of Trent's career, and for the casual NIN fan, it should prove illuminating. I have not actively listened to NIN since 1992-ish, so watching his evolution from Rockstar God to video-game weirdo was pretty interesting stuff. I especially enjoyed the hilarious scans of flyers and album covers from his pre-Nails career as a low-level synthpop heartthrob.

However, for a doc that follows the career of one man for over two hours, there's very little info about the Trent as a person. What was he like in high school? Does his mother love him? What's his favorite movie? Does he like his peanut butter chunky or creamy? Be nice if they answered a few of those, because without any personal info, this just feels like an extravagant resume. Also, I don't believe there's even a shot of a woman anywhere in here. Industrial is already kinda gay, so that doesn't help.

Still, I watched the whole thing, and was pretty entertained. I might even listen to some Foetus, records later. Speaking of which, no one e even mentioned Jim Thirwell in this. Not once.

Metal Machine Music is available now on DVD.

Bonus: Sleazegrinder's Top Five Faux Industrial Hits!


1 comment:

Michael said...

And here I thought I was the only person who called Ministry disco-metal.

No Foetus??? Fuck this doc.

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