Nine Inch Nails
Year Zero


4.5
superb

Review

by Edmund Blackadder USER (32 Reviews)
August 25th, 2009 | 18 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Nine Inch Nails vision of the future; bleak and cold, yet catchy and all around brilliant.

Nine Inch Nails
Year Zero
Interscope Records, 2007


Some decades ago, back in the roarin' 50s, people created a vision through many science fiction stories and movies of what they believed the future would be like. Most often these fantastic visions would include mechanical servants, flying cars, gorgeous metropolis', and, best of all, commie hunting robots. As the years piled on and the dawn of the 21st century approached, this vision slowly changed. Sure, some people still dreamed of a fantastical futuristic wonderland, but many others believed that the world would become a much darker, more sinister place to live. With the discovery of minor problems such as overpopulation, global warming, overflowing heaps of garbage, nuclear warfare etc... the common vision of the future slowly turned darker, with the bright metropolis' of tomorrow slowly crumbling in the imaginations of many. Trent Reznor, of Nine Inch Nails, shared a similar vision. This vision was of a world where a religious sect rules over all, and where free speech and racial tolerance are stomped down by military strength. The utter downfall of Earth as we know it will, in Trent's mind, occur in 2022, a time that will become known as Year Zero .

This album is purposely designed to work as a concept album, similar to The Downward Spiral , and contains a rather loose story line involving the apocalyptic 'year zero'. Unlike The Downward Spiral , however, this concept does not completely bind the album, which allows for listeners to listen to certain songs separately and still enjoy the lyrics. If one does not pay mind to the basic story line supposedly found here, the album still manages to come across as a great listen, which often may not work with other concept albums of this scope. With this in mind, a casual listener may enjoy the album simply for it's music, while the more interested listener may enjoy the album, while exploring its lyrical and musical depths more deeply.

Following the rather bland affair that was With Teeth it would appear that with Year Zero Trent has tried a slightly different musical approach from his previous albums. Many of the loud, powerful riffs heard on prior Nine Inch Nails works have been eliminated here, which helps eliminate much of the angriness that had been attempted with older songs. The use of extremely distorted guitars and keyboards creating a 'mechanical wall of sound' effect is barely found here, with the louder sections instead delivered through complex drum and synth rhythms. With the exception of the stomping album opener 'Hyperpower!' many of the guitar riffs and passages have been eliminated here. The instrumental ambient/piano sessions that were so prevalent on The Fragile only make one appearance here with the beautiful 'Another Version Of The Truth'. Another large change in musical style is presented through the drumming. The furious live drums of 'March Of The Pigs' and 'Head Like A Hole' have been mostly replaced by bizarre electronic beats. This change benefits the rest of the album, however, and gives everything a much more streamlined, futuristic approach.

Trent has never really been the best lyricist. Both The Fragile and With Teeth proved this through the overuse of angry, angst filled lyrics. Here, Trent has apparently decided to change his songwriting standpoint, with many of the songs written from a third person perspective. This generally works in his favor, and helps expand on his apocalyptic vision. Almost all of the lyrics here deal with the oppressive, evil government of the future, and how they are damaging the world. Sure, they might not be the most original or well written lyrics, but they get the job done and show Trent's progression as a songwriter.

New styles of music have been incorporated into this album alongside the altered instrumentation and lyrics. The catchiness has clearly been brought up a notch here, with such killer cuts of 'Survivalism' and 'God Given' using epic, marching choruses and quieter verses to draw the listener in. 'The Great Destoyer', another interesting, catchy track, unexpectedly changes from it's verse-chorus structure into a bizarre electronic mash-up that could only be compared to an Aphex Twin song. 'The Warning' also uses this strange change of pace to it's advantage, using an excellent speedy intro as a means to lead into a spoken word section.

One of my chief complaints with Year Zero involves how the album is laid out. As this is a concept album, one would expect the songs to have some sort of flow with one another. Much of this flow is non-existent, especially with the latter half of the album. When the listener is jarred from one song to the next without any sort of segue or bridge, this may distract or perturb. For example, 'The Greater Good', a rather calm song, ends quietly, but then quickly leads into 'The Great Destoyer', with it's speedy electronic drum beat. This change is rather jarring, and is the cause of a general lack of flow, a problem that has not hounded previous albums.

In the end, Trent Reznor's musical vision of the future is a bleak, dark one that shows Nine Inch Nails progressing both musically and lyrically. The self-absorbed, depression-lead themes explored with past releases are minimal here, and instead the album takes a much deeper, more epic approach. The overall strength and near-brilliance of Year Zero makes it the strongest Nine Inch Nails release since The Downward Spiral , which is quite a feat considering the brilliance of Trent's earlier works.



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user ratings (1557)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Scott M. Baldwin (2)
    For the first time in his long and illustrious career, Reznor cares more about spectacle t...

    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....

    got tool? (4.5)
    The best NIN release since "The Downward Spiral". Both frightening and touching, the album...

    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 
shindip
August 25th 2009


3536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The album cover here is kinda awesome for some reason.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
August 25th 2009


7429 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

good review. i have this but i've never actually listened to it, will do soon though.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
August 25th 2009


15083 Comments


survivalism rulez

shindip
August 25th 2009


3536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

wtf who negged this?

charlesfishowitz
August 25th 2009


1794 Comments


i did

shindip
August 25th 2009


3536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i did


awww why?

Nagrarok
August 25th 2009


8323 Comments


Good, the NiN reviews are getting more extensive. I will counter that irrelevant neg with a deserved pos.

I like these kind of introductions, btw.

BassDemon333
August 25th 2009


3415 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

STILL havent heard this all the way through =[

Knott-
Emeritus
August 25th 2009


10198 Comments


Album Rating: 3

STILL havent heard this..... =[

edit: lol

BassDemon333
August 25th 2009


3415 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

lol shut it strickey =P

I've only heard the first few tracks but ratedthe album thinking it was going to be ok. LOL.

Seriously though....is this really THAT good?

Knott-
Emeritus
August 25th 2009


10198 Comments


this is really really good yes from start to finish :P

pretty bleak

mvdu
August 25th 2009


612 Comments


I'm not a NIN fan, but I thought the review was good - don't understand the neg ratings.

shindip
August 25th 2009


3536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah, that is really bugging me...

Titan50
August 25th 2009


4588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, fuk da haterz

Romulus
August 25th 2009


8447 Comments


Really good review, I pos'd

Eternalnow
August 25th 2009


13 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review; awesome album.

MassiveAttack
August 25th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

pathetic random negs...at least state your reasons. pos. nice job shin

thatguy84
August 25th 2009


214 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Man, I was so excited for this album to come out and was completely not disappointed and was extremely into it and its surrounding story for a few months afterward. I still enjoy it greatly from time to time, the only things that I don't care for on it are Me I'm Not and The Greater Good, and the part near the end of My Violent Heart where the glitchy noises inexplicably get super loud for two bars.

I'm not sure why anyone would neg this review, it was good. I'll throw it a pos.



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