Pitchfork’s 33 Best Industrial Albums of All Time

What’s This Playlist All About? The musical historians over at Pitchfork dive deep into the grimy, gritty, often grisly world of industrial music and all of its shades of gray since England’s Throbbing Gristle brought the idea of “Industrial Music for Industrial People” into the public consciousness back in 1976. As Pitchfork’s Sasha Geffen writes, “This was the sound of work, but it was also the sound of the refusal to work.” It was much more than that, too, as the genre grew from its queer and trans outsider roots to become an outlet for American artists like Trent Reznor, who turned it into a shockingly successful mainstream phenomenon. (Note: Unfortunately, a few of the albums featured are not available on Spotify, so the playlist does not fully reflect the complete list.)

What You Get: Industrial progenitors Throbbing Gristle, the original “wreckers of civilization” (according to a member of the British Parliament), understandably dominate the list, kicking it off with the punchy, disco-sleek groove “Hot on the Heels of Love” from 1979’s 20 Jazz Funk Greats. They also appear later with the nightmarish yet eerily hypnotic “Hamburger Lady” from the year before. In between, the term “industrial” is flexed and stretched, from Coil’s dark and ambient landscapes (“Ravenous”) and Ministry’s testosterone-pumped metal meld (“The Land of Rape and Honey”) to Nine Inch Nails’ subversive synth-pop seductions (“Closer”) and clipping.’s Afrofuturist hip-hop explorations (“A Better Place”).

Greatest Discovery: Well before clipping. there was Tackhead, whose members played with hip-hop godfathers Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash before diving into more abrasive, metallic beats. “Mind at the End of the Tether” shows how innovative these guys were, threading samples and raps through a web of edgy electronic sounds.

Does the Playlist Really Represent the Best Industrial of All Time? It’s certainly a respectable starting kit, though the mix itself seems rather tame for industrial standards. The curators have, understandably, picked some of the poppiest, most digestible tracks from their album selections. That is, until you get to the very end and realize industrial’s most unsettling, blood-curdling possibilities with “Horsemeat Yak Trip” from Controlled Bleeding’s 1985 album Knees and Bones.