Year Zero If you miss the elaborate conspiracy theories of The X-Files , you'll love Nine Inch Nails' Year Zero . A sci-fi concept album whose end-of-days,… Year Zero If you miss the elaborate conspiracy theories of The X-Files , you'll love Nine Inch Nails' Year Zero . A sci-fi concept album whose end-of-days,… 2007-04-17 Nine Inch Nails Rock Interscope
Music Review

Year Zero (2007)

GRIM REAPER Reznor's Year Zero makes for riveting, uneasy listening
Image credit: Rob Sheridan
GRIM REAPER Reznor's Year Zero makes for riveting, uneasy listening
EW's GRADE
B+

Details Release Date: Apr 17, 2007; Lead Performance: Nine Inch Nails; Genre: Rock; Production: Interscope

If you miss the elaborate conspiracy theories of The X-Files, you'll love Nine Inch Nails' Year Zero. A sci-fi concept album whose end-of-days, paranoia-drenched story line has been disseminated via the Internet, it will appeal to every geek with Fox Mulder's ''I Want to Believe'' poster on their bedroom wall. (In fact, a key lyric finds NIN majordomo Trent Reznor proclaiming, ''I am trying to believe.'')

The good news is, it's entirely possible — maybe even advisable — to enjoy Year Zero without trolling dozens of kooky websites. Mostly, this is Captain Trent doing what he's always done: giving musical expression to torment, rage, sadness, lust, and impotence. As usual, he drives his messages home with his whisper-to-a-scream vocal melodrama and the most chaotically catchy tunes he and his arsenal of machines can generate.

Amid its carefully calibrated sonic assaults, Year Zero has a number of tracks that will stop you in yours. Sometimes, it's a matter of dropping the volume, as on the muted feedback/piano interlude ''Another Version of the Truth.'' Then there's the element of surprise upon hearing the industrial-strength Middle Eastern melodic patterns of ''The Warning.'' Even his use of electronics has shifted to a new level: ''Vessel'' evokes nothing so much as a sentient, schizophrenic computer having a nervous breakdown. Is the truth in here? Dunno, but Reznor's claim that ''I got my violence in high def ultra-realism'' sounds like gospel to us.

Originally posted Apr 12, 2007 Published in issue #930 Apr 20, 2007 Order article reprints
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