Industrial rock

Industrial rock is a musical genre that fuses industrial music and specific rock subgenres. Industrial rock spawned and is often confused with industrial metal. The early fusions of industrial music and rock were practiced by a handful of post-punk groups, including Chrome, Killing Joke, Swans, Foetus, and Big Black. Artists such as Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson propelled the genre to mainstream status.

Musical style

Industrial rock artists generally employ the basic rock instrumentation of electric guitars, drums and bass and pair it with white noise blasts and electronic music gear (synthesizers, sequencers, samplers and drum machines). Guitars are commonly heavily distorted or otherwise treated. Bass guitars and drums may be played live, or be replaced by electronic musical instruments or computers in general. Industrial rock frequently incorporates the sounds of machinery and industry. This sound palette was pioneered by early 1980s artists (SPK, Einstürzende Neubauten, Die Krupps and Test Dept), who relied heavily on metal percussion, generally made with pipes, tubes and other products of industrial waste.


Experimental '60s group Cromagnon are said to have been one of the bands that helped foresee the birth of industrial rock.[1] Specifically, their song "Caledonia" has been noted for its "pre-industrial stomp".[2]

Industrial music was created in the mid- to late 1970s, amidst the punk rock revolution and disco fever. Prominent early industrial musicians include Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, NON, SPK and Z'EV.[3] Many other artists have been cited as influences such as Kraftwerk and Gary Numan and Tubeway Army as well as Einsturzende Neubaten. Many other musical performers were incorporating industrial-musical elements into a variety of musical styles.

Some post-punk performers developed styles parallel to industrial music's defining attributes. Pere Ubu's debut, The Modern Dance, was described as "industrial".[4] So was San Francisco's Chrome, who mixed Jimi Hendrix, The Sex Pistols and tape music experiments,[5] and Killing Joke, considered by Simon Reynolds as "a post-punk version of heavy metal".[6] According to Chris Connelly, Foetus "is the instigator when it comes to the marriage of machinery to hardcore punk."[7]

Trent Reznor, founder of popular industrial rock project Nine Inch Nails

Others followed in their wake.[8] The New York City band Swans were inspired by the local No Wave scene, as well as punk rock, noise music (particularly Whitehouse) and the original industrial groups.[9] Steve Albini's Big Black followed a similar path,[10] while also incorporating American hardcore punk.[11] Big Black has also been closely associated with post-hardcore and noise rock, though their ties to industrial music are extremely apparent. The Swiss trio The Young Gods, who deliberately eschewed electric guitars in favor of a sampler,[12] also took inspiration from both hardcore and industrial,[13] being equally indebted to the Bad Brains and Foetus.

Commercial success

Industrial rock's true commercial breakthrough took place with the rise of the industrial metal bands, Ministry and Nine Inch Nails.[14]

Industrial metal

Main article: Industrial metal

Industrial metal draws from industrial music and heavy metal. It uses repeating metal guitar riffs, sampling, synthesizer or sequencer lines, and distorted vocals.[15] Founding industrial metal groups include Ministry,[16] Godflesh[17] and KMFDM.[16] Eventually it reached a mass audience, led by the "one-man-band" Nine Inch Nails.[18] Industrial metal's new-found popularity led to some criticism from other artists associated with the industrial scene. Subsequently, it is most well known in various European permutations.


See also


  3. Vale & Juno, 1983.
  4. Irvin, 2001, p. 442.
  5. Reynolds, 2005, p. 257, 258.
  6. Reynolds, 2005, p. 435.
  7. Connelly, 2007, p. 12.
  8. Chantler, 2002, p. 54.
  9. Licht, 2003, p. 32.
  10. Blush, 2001, p. 222.
  11. Sharp, 1999, p. 48.
  12. Mörat, 1992, p. 12.
  13. Stud & Stud, 1987, p. 27.
  14. "GOLD AND PLATINUM - Searchable Database". RIAA. Retrieved 2007-12-12. External link in |publisher= (help)
  15. "Industrial Metal". allmusic. Retrieved 2008-02-11. External link in |publisher= (help)
  16. 1 2 Di Perna 1995a, p. 69.
  17. Walters, Martin. "Godflesh: Review". allmusic. Retrieved 2008-07-03. External link in |publisher= (help)
  18. Huey, Steve. "Nine Inch Nails: Biography". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-01-09. External link in |publisher= (help)

Further reading

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