NINE INCH NAILS: "Year Zero"
(Interscope) 1 1/2 Stars
By Fred Shuster, Music Critic for LA Daily News on April 20, 2007
Surrounded by a chorus of sycophants chanting "you're a genius," Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor can seemingly do no wrong. In this concept album — a garden-variety look into the usual totalitarian future — Reznor abandons his persona as the patron saint of self-mutilation and comes off as a ho-hum conspiracy theorist, spouting the sort of tedious political commentary we've heard a zillion times.
Reznor's vision of 2022 is borrowed from a '70s movie: a miserable, pacified populace is fed drugged drinking water, fights wars in the name of religion, all with the end of the world imminent. Yawn. All that's missing is Burt Reynolds rampaging through the album with a girl over his shoulder.
Musically, NIN has never been very interesting, and "Year Zero" does little to change that perception. Reznor's pretentious, tuneless machine noise and Neanderthal electronic beats, augmented by spooky piano tinkling and a vocal style that lands between a whisper and a primal scream, is one of rock's most tiresome products.
Apocalypse or not, the worst thing about Reznor's look into the future is the soundtrack.