Album Review: Nine Inch Nails,

By Jon Zahlaway for Live Daily on April 17, 2007

Sobriety apparently agrees Trent Reznor; after cranking out new studio albums at an average clip of about two per decade, the NIN mastermind's latest comes less than two years after its predecessor, "With Teeth"--and is his most fully realized, well-executed endeavor to date.

Even if the album sucked, Reznor would deserve points for his creative vision; "Year Zero" is the musical component of a massive concept that he began revealing weeks ago, primarily via an elaborate series of websites set in the year 2022 and purportedly created by both allies and foes of an oppressive, religiose U.S. government.

Fortunately, the album--a hefty, wildly varied, 16-track collection--doesn't suck.

"With Teeth" was, by NIN standards, a fairly stripped-down, straight-ahead rock album, heavy on live drumming, and, for those familiar with Reznor's work, infused with a sense of the newly sober musician familiarizing himself with a creative toolkit that no longer contained chemicals. This time around, Reznor (who wrote and performed all of "Year Zero") sounds fully reborn--a self-assured, supremely confident, industrial-rock superhero who knows just how far he can push the envelope in every direction. He sings his ass off and attacks his machines with wild abandon, creating a full-on assault of shredding, synthesized riffs, blips, bleeps, whirs, buzzes and explosive percussion beds, only occasionally punctuated by his acoustic-piano prowess. You could not find a more perfect backdrop for a bleak, futuristic tale about a society at war with itself.

"Year Zero" works specifically because, both lyrically and musically, Reznor is completely committed to the apocalyptic vision he has created. There is not a shred of self-doubt in his delivery. He immerses himself in the story, and convinces you that you are experiencing a musical time capsule sent back from the future (a future that, by the way, looks exceptionally grim).

In a statement released earlier this year, Reznor described "Year Zero" as "part one" of a larger work. Here's hoping the turnaround time on "part two" is equally brief.

Transcribed by JessicaSarahS

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