Mr. Reznor described Year Zero as a concept record existing in the not-so-distant (and nihilistic!) future. Maybe he thinks the masses will come around and swallow his industrial din whole in 2022 that they'll love him again, like they did in 1994. But, Year Zero collapses under a humdrum repetitiveness before the disc's first single, "Survivalism," which is nothing more than a lavish, processor-based bore. A few songs later, the next single, "Capital G," provides slight respite. If nothing more, Reznor's emblematic monotone on the tune is funny because his off-key voice finally resembles the awkward, misconstrued teen who screams from inside of his aging body. The rest of the record spoils with dystopian ideals and godlessness of zeitgeist 1997. In other words, ZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Reznor's previous release, With Teeth, beached itself on the shores of the mainstream. Now, to regain face, or regain the praise of his fanbase, NIN swam out way out and drowned in an undercurrent of noise, synth and desperation.
Dustin Walsh writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].