The new Nine Inch Nails album, Year Zero, was released on Tuesday.
I was leary of this album when I heard the two sample tracks on Trent’s myspace site. They sounded less appealing and it led me to believe this whole album could be full of anti-Bush preachy crap. Luckily, I wasn’t fully correct.
Year Zero is more impressive than With Teeth, Trent Reznor‘s last album. How so? Well, With Teeth, to me at least, felt like average rock, with a few songs sticking out… but riddled with sing-songy lyrics that didn’t have much substance (not all the songs, but the overall feel of the album). Although, With Teeth did bring more grit to the NIN sound. Now, Year Zero takes the grit that With Teeth brought us, and combines it with my favorate NIN album: the Fragile, but adds a touch of ‘noise‘.
The first track (Hyperpower!) slaps you in the face with noises and sounds, which immediately separates it from With Teeth.
Second track (The Beginning of the End), although it almost fools you into thinking your going to be listening to My Sharona, turns that initial thought around quickly and is a very good song.
Third track (Survivalism) is one of the sample tracks. This song, in my opinion, is a slight turn off because of the way Trent sings the verses… all choppy, but I’m sure there’ll be people who will like it. Overall, I can understand why it was picked as a single: It is well produced and catchy, but it is not my favorite track on the album.
Fourth track (The Good Soldier), which could be considered one of the political statement songs, is one of the better songs. Lyrics talk about bombs, gunfire, and dead people… The thing is that the beat, guitars, and ambience of the song are so good, that even if it is a political statement song, I don’t care. The lyrics are sing-songy, but again, its too good of a song for that to matter in this case. Plus, the song has an excellent break section in the middle. This could be my favorite track of the album.
Fifth track (Vessel) brings the ‘noise’ into the music. The sounds of this song are excellent. Vocal filters used are also very good. Again, this song has a great break section, with great use of ‘noise’. This is another favorite track of mine.
Sixth track (Me, I’m Not) reminds me of the Dust Brothers’ sound to the Fight Club soundtrack, beat-wise. This track is okay.
Seventh track (Capital G) makes me think of a Michael Jackson song when it starts, beat-wise. This song is an extreme example of choppy singing that I don’t like, this happens during the verses, while the chorus singing is fine. Problem with this song is that it is seeping with the feeling of being a political statement… and that is off putting to me, even more than choppy singing.
Eighth track (My Violent Heart), which was the second sample track, starts quiet but breaks out with wild electronic sounds. This track has one of the better choruses on the album, in terms of stirring up energy. This is a good song for subwoofers.
Ninth track (The Warning) has a nice mix of bass guitar and electronic sounds set to Trent’s voice. This song is kind of tied to a internet side story for the album entitled ‘Another Version of the Truth‘. Do an search for it and you’ll find fake forums talking about the story behind the album’s cover.
Tenth track (God Given) has a definite beat that will get you rocking in your chair, or for those who go dancing… I could imagine them dancing to this one. Some of the lyrics are either silly or too light hearted like “Come on, and sing along!” not my cup of tea, but that is just my opinion.
Eleventh track (Meet Your Master) is a building song. It builds upon itself as the song progresses, but it doesn’t build to much of anything spectacular. The chorus is good, and the verses are nice. The break section feels like it could explode, but doesn’t.
Twelfth track (The Greater Good) has those great sounds in it. I can place what the instrument is that is playing, sounds almost like a dull steel drum, but its great. The ambiance is also perfect. If you don’t have lyrics in front of you, you’ll probably not catch what Trent is whispering. Songs like this one make me believe even stronger that Trent should give a chance to doing a movie soundtrack at least once, because I think it would be outstanding.
Thirteenth track (The Great Destroyer) brings more electronics to the front with great guitars. Another great track from this album in my opinion. Trent also breaks into falsetto for you in this one. This song also has the best song break on the album, its loud, ‘noisy’ and outstanding and brings to mind Apex Twin style of music with all the bizarre electronic sounds.
Fourteenth track (Another Version of the Truth) starts with dark ambience and beautiful piano. One of my favorite tracks.
Fifteenth track (In This Twilight) Trent sings soothingly amid harsh electronic sounds that grate in great contrast. Then, the chorus’ bass line pulls you into nodding your head along with the beat.
Sixteenth track (Zero-Sum) starts with a pace setting electronic slow beat, followed by piano and whispers. Then, it smoothes out with beautiful piano chords with that great slow electronic beat and muffled lyrics singing a chorus behind it all. It closes the CD on an almost peaceful feeling.
Overall, I like Year Zero more than With Teeth, but not as much as I like The Fragile. Its interesting to see the direction Trent is taking his music, even if its not the direction you think, or want it to go. I recommend the album to those that like Trent’s music, or to those who are looking for something not main stream in music but easy to get your hands on.