Review Summary: The most disturbing, uneasy album released in years keeps Nine Inch Nails a relevant band as proves them as one of the best rock acts of all time with perhaps, their best release yet.
The staying power of Nine Inch Nails is massive. There’s an allure in his dark, nihilistic music and lyrics that attracts the youth of every generation and wraps them in this ever-addicting music that Trent Reznor has been creating for nearly three decades. There is only a few bands that have consistently created revolutionary music for as long as Reznor has-now pushing twenty years in the business, each one of his albums has been released to large amounts of radio play, critical acclaim, and commercial fame. Teenagers coming out of the New Wave era became Nine Inch Nails fans, people during the Grunge years became addicted to Reznor’s music, the nu-metal fans of the early 2000s became addicted to Nails’ allure, and the hip-hop addicts of the late 2000s have all been entranced in Reznor’s sound; that impeccable ability Reznor has to make new fans in every generation. Where With Teeth
introduced them to the dance-floor mainstream side of Nine Inch Nails, Reznor challenges his listeners with Year Zero
, an epic, grandiose orgy of electronic industrial rock.
There’s no denying it, Nine Inch Nails will be remembered for years as one of the greatest bands ever; right up there with bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Who, Rolling Stones, Nirvana, etc. Nine Inch Nails’ music has already been noted as a major influence for a influx of bands around today, and they’ve received numerous awards for being one of the most influential artists in rock music. Most rock acts pack up the camper right now; Reznor’s aged at a crisp 42, had a last hurrah on the radio with the multitude of hits in The Hand That Feeds, Every Day is Exactly the Same, and Only; so as most bands do, it’s time to go self-indulgent, release a couple of albums every decade and tour for all the reunion glory that bands like Rolling Stones have done for years. But if your Trent Reznor, you break apart that sound you created with With Teeth
, keep certain electronic influences, and re-build it from the ground up, adding a bit of the paranoia and aggressive tones that The Downward Spiral
had mastered in the process. Instead of riding the success With Teeth garnered, you challenge the listeners and release, perhaps, your best album ever. But, this time, you add an epic story that challenges dystopian novels like Anthem or 1984 with true precision; and make your music an art form, not just music…something more. That’s what Year Zero does-it’s chock-full of aggressive, paranoid industrial anthems with a shot of electronic and wrap it all up with a perfected, artistic storyline.
Year Zero is absolutely one of Reznor’s best releases, as it’s a well return to the cryptic style of albums like The Fragile
and The Downward Spiral
, with much success. It’s quite a challenging, dark, and disturbing release recounting the events leading up to the end of all things. Where we saw Reznor’s ability slip a little with With Teeth, he’s put it back together with Year Zero. Year Zero may just be Reznor’s The Wall, it’s a crazed, addicting storyline that may very well be turned into a movie, held together by the dark undertones of the album’s music. Tracks scream complete paranoid aggression like Survivalism, when Reznor roars I got my violence in high-def ultra-realism.
above blistering bass and thundering electronics. Or The Great Destroyer, in which Reznor wails about I hope they cannot see, I am the great destroyer!
before the song slides down a pit into nothingness, above the most crazed, insane, and completely chaotic song ending of all time; as electronic sounds of all sorts roar over a constant beat, which Reznor declares symbolizes “the end of the world.” This is the aggression and panic we’ve solely missed since The Downward Spiral, and Reznor brings it back, like a shot of adrenaline.
The album’s ability to tell a story is well-done as well, many songs are dedicated to tell the story and keep it moving like The Good Solider
, which tells the story of a solider doubting his country, The Warning
which tells the story of a man who sees ‘The Presence’, a ghostly figure in the shape of hand that is featured on the cover. Another Version of the Truth
captures the essence of walking out your front door into a bleak, dark atmosphere of chaos and the end of the world perfectly, until The Great Destroyer ends it all, and just like every Nine Inch Nails’ album, it ends on a high-note with the last two tracks, which reflect on the album’s happenings. Where the album begins a bit poppy and easily digestible, it continuously gets harder to follow, more cryptic, and more disturbing as the tracks click on. One slowly falls into another, and by the end, it’s over, and you’ve just witnessed the end of the world.
Year Zero is one of those albums that you stumble onto, much like Reznor stumbled onto the idea. It's the most electronic release of Nails' discography since their debut, but has a strangely modern yet retrospective feel to it. There was no way I would have thought that Nine Inch Nails would still be a relevant force in today’s music back in the day of Pretty Hate Machine
. There’s something timeless and addicting about his music, perhaps it’s unique style, or the fact that only six Nine Inch Nails albums have been released in almost twenty years. Something keeps me here, something keeps me listening and keeps Reznor relevant. Year Zero is the eptiome of everything Reznor’s done right over the years, and proves that not everybody loses their musical talent when they age. Reznor’s just getting started, and Year Zero proves this with perhaps, the best Nails albums to date.