Coming two years after the somewhat lukewarm comeback of 2005’s ‘With Teeth’, Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails dropped Year Zero.  The record itself was a critical and commercial success, but what makes the album stand out is its themes particularly about the policies made by the American Government and presenting a ‘dystopian world’ that has happened in 2022.

Now we’re in 2017, it’s been ten years since the album has been released. Did the genius mind behind Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor realise that his words and what he was saying was just those of a paranoid man, critiquing the American system right? Or were they something of actual weight?

Well in 2007 America was a different time with Bush as president, the war on terror and society shaping in a negative way. You would think now that in 2017 it be different, but now we have Trump as president that has systematically divided the United States. The Middle East is still in a bad place, with Syria being gripped in a bloody civil war that has caused a refugee crisis. It seems to me that ‘Year Zero’ isn’t just a piece of art, created by an individual whose albums have shaped generations but rather, a glimpse of a very scary future that could possibly become a reality!

Now how we process the music of Year Zero is very much like a narrative, with Reznor creating an alternative reality game, bridging together these two mediums. The music on Year Zero is superb, with Reznor pretty much working on every song with few collaborations such as Saul Williams on the main single of Year Zero ‘Survivalism’ which peaked at number 29 on the UK charts. The song is a stunning piece, with the words “I got my propaganda, I got revisionism.” Words that are about rebelling and about taking a stand, against a corrupt governmental system.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/qSsRt_1l740?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

One of the songs that stands out for me in particular is ‘Capital G’ a song that could easily be described as an anti-bush song. This isn’t Reznor’s first attack on the 43rd president as his comeback song ‘The Hand That Feeds’ was a response to the war on terror, with the line “What if this whole crusades a charade?” and ‘Capital G’ continues that trend with lines like “He pushed a button and it dropped a bomb” and “He signs his name with a Capital G” and rumour has it, the song ‘Letting You’ from ‘The Slip’ Nine Inch Nails follow-up to Year Zero was yet another attack on Bush. Either way these songs were Reznor’s way of allowing his listeners to feel how he was feeling and that resonated with so many listeners from around the world, offering a voice to the voiceless.

Hauntingly, Year Zero reflects not only the thoughts of an entire generation through its bullet-hole lyrics, but through its guttural blasts of noise coated in waves of digital hardcore. Packed somewhat pretentiously yet perfectly placed, curated, and perfected, layers of electronic disruption dribble and drab across the sound of loss. Reznor wrote and recorded the whole record by himself, crafting an industrial machine-riddled noose-tying burst of noise that reflects the world in which he describes.

Year Zero is a piece of art, its uses of sound and emotions makes it a perfect album that not only represents the year it came out of, but the fact it still means something shows the importance of this record. One of the lines from the final song ‘Zero Sum’ to me not only critiques humanity saying “Shame on us, doomed from the start. May God have mercy, on our dirty little hearts.” Which to me perfectly sums up that we need to make a change and if we don’t then we’re quite honestly doomed.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/Uek9vCFfNB0?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

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