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Old 11-01-2020, 01:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
donkeydoo's Avatar
Join Date: May 2020
Location: London
Posts: 34
Talking Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero

I don't know if you have to review new albums only? Anyway, this might be a bit of a personal review, but here goes...

Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero

This isn’t my favourite Nine Inch Nails album - that’s The Fragile. This doesn’t hold a place for being the first NIN album I was listening to as it came out - that’s With Teeth. It's not the most emotionally draining NIN album - that's The Downward Spiral. I'm reviewing Year Zero because it was a final transition towards most of the new music I was discovering becoming roughly “electronic” rather than roughly “rock”. A transition for both NIN and myself from a more traditional instrumentational world to the one of bleep blops ahead.

If you took the tone of the previous album With Teeth and it made violent but passionate love to a glitchy computer virus, you’d get something resembling this album. Being created on a computer rather than in a studio with musicians means it weighs more towards electronic than rock, though despite the shift, Trent hasn’t made a particularly mass appealing electronic sound apart from some smooth songs like The Good Soldier, Capital G, The Greater Good, Me I'm Not and The Warning, which have a sexy, almost RnB feel. Elsewhere, the distorted guitars are replaced with equally loud and harsh distorted synths. It has elements of some of the kinds of electronic music we were out raving to at university like electro-house and dubstep, but with rock songwriting structure and conceptual depth....perfect transition album para me.

Year Zero is the first concept album in NIN’s catalogue - Trent’s subject matter on every preceding album has always been introspective. To be honest, I don’t know the ins and outs of the concept because there was all this extra non-musical media released with backstory. From what I can gather from the album alone, it’s the year 2022 and we’re in some kind of dystopian future (it's 2020 and 2 years from hell sounds too distant now!) setting that allowed Trent to comment on current politics and our violent society under the guise of a science fiction story. A story in which an alien asks us to change our harmful ways, we don’t and so it wipes us all out (to put it as briefly as possible - and yes, the plot is totally a rip-off of The Day The Earth Stood Still). The electronic sound of the album obviously compliments this theme extremely well (creative choices supported by plot elements which I appreciate – like in Memento; the film playing out in reverse to mirror the main character’s short term memory loss).

You have to hear it.....there’s this long finale in The Great Destroyer where humanity is being destroyed by that alien being’s glitchy, atomic synths; an electronic almost dubsteppy drop with enough crazy intensity to create whole new types of noise induced epilepsy when played live. After that track come 3 aftermath songs, with a very post-apocalyptic feel. If you grew up listening to Pink Floyd concept albums, you already know how to listen to this. If you like “pleasant” sounding music, I’d stick to the songs I described as sexy above. If you grew up on rock/metal but also like high intensity electronic music, this was made for you.

Fav Tracks: The Warning, Zero Sum, The Beginning of the End, The Good Soldier
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