Concept albums are very unique and at times take a long time to fully understand. Listening to select songs doesn’t give you the full effect. And a lot of the time the story that accompanies the album is very convoluted. Though there are many cases when the above statements don’t apply. Pink Floyd, The Who and more recently Mastodon and Nine Inch Nails have been able to create epic concept albums that can stand on their own or as separate entities. In 2007, Nine Inch Nails released Year Zero.
“The Year Zero story takes place in the United States in the year 2022. The United States has suffered several major terrorist attacks, and in response the government has seized absolute control on the country and reverted to a Christian fundamentalist theocracy. The government maintains control of the populace through institutions such as the Bureau Of Morality as well as increased surveillance and the secret drugging of tap water with a mild sedative. In response to the increasing oppression of the government, several corporate, government, and subversive websites were transported back in time to the present by a group of scientists working clandestinely against the authoritarian government. The websites-from-the-future were sent to the year 2007 to warn the American people of the impending dystopian future and to prevent it from ever forming in the first place.”
So with that all mind one would think that this is just a mess, but in fact it’s the complete opposite. Trent never misses a step with creating this apocalyptic epic. This album was also the next step in Trent’s revitalized state of mind and musical odyssey. There are a lot of uses of noise, static, and strange yet amazing distortion. Certain songs stand out amongst the album as a whole such as “The Beginning Of The End,” “Survivalism,” “In This Twilight,” “The Great Destroyer,” and “My Violent Heart.” Furthermore there was something else about this album, was that it opened up the visual aspect even more than before. Since Trent has described Year Zero as a soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t even exist, it’s not hard to let your imagination take you off on quite a little trip.
Year Zero is not The Downward Spiral or The Fragile, but it is one of the most artistic and well thought out releases that Nine Inch Nails have ever released. One other strange thing about this album, was that touring for this album was not very prevalent. The people at Interscope records really dropped the ball on handling the marketing and promotion for this album, hence why it never got the due it deserved. So give yourself some time and delve back into Year Zero and see for yourself what you might have missed.
By: Brian Lacy