Nine Inch Nails
Year Zero



by got tool? USER (2 Reviews)
April 20th, 2007 | 17 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The best NIN release since "The Downward Spiral". Both frightening and touching, the album is a huge step forward for Mr. Reznor, focusing on the big picture while still retaining a human element.

It all started with a shirt. It was your average tour t-shirt with a list of gigs printed neatly on the back, until one very observant (or very bored) fan noticed that certain letters in the text were highlighted. When put together, the letters formed the phrase “I am trying to believe.”

And believe we did.

What followed was a stunningly effective marketing campaign that quickly turned into a Da Vinci Code-esque scavenger hunt. Songs were intentionally leaked, bizarre websites were discovered, and, as the pieces began to fall into place, a frightening back story for the album began to emerge.

Enter Year Zero, the latest release from Nine Inch Nails. Taking place 15 years from now in a post apocalyptic United States, the album is a futuristic sci-fi journey into a world of decay and corruption, with the sole member of the “band”, Trent Reznor, as our guide. That being said, some might consider it a concept album; one that tells a story. Year Zero instead builds upon the existing narrative created over the past few months in order to shape the complete experience. But even without this background information, the record is still remarkably cohesive and immersive.

From the dense, fuzzy build up of “Hyperpower!” to the fading electronic whisper of “Zero Sum”, the album is 64 minutes of raw, unfiltered sound. Anyone who has listened to a rock radio station recently will be familiar with the rapid-fire, militaristic single “Survivalism”, whose grinding guitar and pounding chorus appropriately mimic “The cocking of the rifles/The marching of the feet”. “My Violent Heart” begins with quiet, almost whispered vocals against a backdrop of light electronic percussion, only to erupt into a roaring battle cry; a mantra for revolution. On the other end of the sonic spectrum, tracks such as “The Good Soldier” (which features the line “I am trying to believe”) and “In This Twilight” are calm and deliberate in their delivery, showing an introspective and delicate style of songwriting not normally associated with Nine Inch Nails. “Me, I’m Not” borders on trip-hop due to its thumping beat and moody atmosphere, which underlines the spoken vocals and dissonant synth melodies. What stands out about the album, and what keeps it from sinking into the tepid mainstream rock scene, is the sheer amount of noise that powers it. Spastic bursts of static, echoing gunshots, the scream of fighter jets, and all manner of abrasive electronic sound punctuate each track. Exhibit A: “The Great Destroyer”, whose catchy rock verses give way to a smothering onslaught of rhythmic sonic fury. The sticker on the packaging doesn’t call them “noisy new songs” for nothing.

Overall, Year Zero is a refreshing break from Reznor’s typical angst-filled industrial rock. Instead of looking at the world on an individual level, he chooses to see the greater picture in a way that transcends any of his previous work. The album succeeds as a concept album, as a rock album, and, most importantly, as a Nine Inch Nails album.

user ratings (1535)
other reviews of this album
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  • Scott M. Baldwin (2)
    For the first time in his long and illustrious career, Reznor cares more about spectacle t...

    Edmund Blackadder (4.5)
    The Nine Inch Nails vision of the future; bleak and cold, yet catchy and all around brilli...

    Porter W. Richards (5)
    The most disturbing, uneasy album released in years keeps Nine Inch Nails a relevant band ...

    eggsvonsatan (2.5)
    Message to Trent: Anyone is capable of writing a politically inspired album. You are capab...

  • Ben (4.5)
    Trent Reznor releases his noisiest, most coherent album since 1994's "The Downward Spiral....

    montague (4)
    Something left in NIN? You better believe it....

    Matt Conrad (4.5)
    A noisy, pessimistic view of the future......

    John Cruz (4)
    Trent Reznor makes an easily digestible album with hooks galore, heart, and loads of what ...

Comments:Add a Comment 
got tool?
April 20th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

It's a bit short, but it's a slightly revamped version of a review I submitted to my school paper.

April 20th 2007


Really good review. It was entertaining to read.This Message Edited On 04.20.07

April 20th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent review - Although I like The Fragile bette than any other NIN album, this is an awesome album; surpasses With Teeth by leagues

April 20th 2007


Very good, man, but you're right, it could've been longer. Also, instead of quoting everything, you could try bolds or italics. Just a thought.

And of course it surpasses W/ Teeth.

Two-Headed Boy
April 20th 2007


Album Rating: 2.5

Honestly, this album is amazing. The last five or so tracks are brilliant.

Good review also.

The Door Mouse
April 20th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

I've been begging my mom to drive me to the CD store to get this for a while now

April 20th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

Good review. I just got this and I'm loving it.

Are there any other people besides me that think My Violent Heart rules hard?This Message Edited On 04.20.07

April 21st 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

Not as good as The Downward Spiral or The Fragile but still an excellent release.

April 21st 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

survivalism is good but if you go to you can hear his version of survivalism which i think is better in a certain, but all in all it's not that different, nvm. Trent is producing Saul's upcoming album which is out soon This Message Edited On 04.21.07This Message Edited On 04.21.07

April 21st 2007


It seems this album is getting a lot of rave reviews - I really need to check this out, NIN are a class act.

April 21st 2007


Album Rating: 2.5

I heard the first song that was released and wasn't really a fan, but this still sounds very interesting. Good job with the review.

Digging: Grimes - Visions

Two-Headed Boy
April 21st 2007


Album Rating: 2.5

Survivalism is the weakest song on the album, easily.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
April 21st 2007


Which makes me very intrigued, as I love Survivalism.

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

Two-Headed Boy
April 21st 2007


Album Rating: 2.5

What's your opinion of Downward Spiral, Adam?

April 23rd 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

I'm glad someone besides me doesn't really find what's so fascinating about Survivalism. Anyway, glitch section in The Great Destroyer ftw.

April 23rd 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah i think Survivalism is the weakest song.

February 1st 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

The Great Destroyer makes me happy

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