Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero

Ross Drummond 17/04/2007

Rating: 4/5

Nine Inch Nails fans were somewhat taken aback with the announcement from Trent Reznor that they will be treated with a new record just 2 years after the commercial success of With Teeth. Although their is an abundance of EP's and remix CD's it's interesting to note that in their 15 + years existence, this is only the 5th NIN full length.

With usb sticks in various toilets across their european tour as well as hidden IP addresses on t-shirts and telephone numbers encoded in white noise, Fan forums have been at fever pitch with this clever viral marketing. So clever infact that the RIAA have put out a cease and desist on Reznor for leaking tracks off of his own album. Awesome.

Year Zero is part 1 of a 2 part concept revolving around the end of the world. The aforementioned IP addresses revealed toxic water websites and other frightening goings on. Talks of a film to coincide with the story is also rumored.

Upon first listening you are met with a record that feels like it hasn't had the 5 year studio treatment. Gone are the soundscapes from The Fragile and in their place are sparser arrangements, with the focus on serrated and processed guitar lines and filtered synthesizers.

Starting off with an instrumental and leading into 'The Beginning Of The End' there is a sentiment of Pretty Hate Machine in the songs. First single to be taken off the album 'Survivalism' has everything a NIN track should have, dirty processed guitars, drum machines and Reznor's quiet yet embittered vocal delivery with shifts to his higher pitched delivery and combo of loud mechanical drums and noise. It's a perfect blend that means those who aren't fans of NIN have something accessible to listen to.

With 15 tracks and an hour in length their are some slumps in the quality, however tracks such as 'The Great Destroyer' which sees Reznor proclaim“I am the great destroyer!” more than make up for it. 'Vessel', 'Me I'm Not' and 'Capitol G' which run consecutively after another also are brilliant the latter having an almost 80's style drum beat and see's Reznor take on the view of a political leader “Don't Really give a shit about the heat in Guantanamo/don't really see what the fuss is about” What could have come across as a gimmick is impressive and the best track on the record.

Year Zero is a powerful concept and one that will be interesting to see unfold. Though it might not attract many new fans current ones won't be disappointed and those whom were worried about the shortness between records should rest easy. Go get it, even if you don't like NIN the CD changes color when you play it.