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Record Recap: Nine Inch Nail's Year Zero

April 17, 2007

It’s difficult to review something that I feel so close to and also has had so much said about it. Rather, what I’ll do is recap the experience I’ve had as a semi-fanatic fan (fanatic by many standards, not in relation to fellow Spiral-ers).

Since December, Spiral members have been counting down the days until this release. Having just been blessed with With Teeth and a year and a half long tour after a 5 year drought, we were all pretty satiated. But, like drug addicts, the announcement of Year Zero sent us straight into withdrawal-marking calendars and speculating on the next sound.

In the meantime, we were left to chew on vague comments of ‘noisiness’ and ‘Public Enemy influences’. Europe got a long awaited tour that started in February. With the upcoming release of the DVD Beside You In Time, we were able to attend viewing parties and reminisce about the ‘good ol’ days’ when we were going to With Teeth tour shows every couple of months. I believe it was February 13th when it all started.

This is the point where Year Zero morphed from an idea to an experience. Embedded codes in concert shirts, leaked tracks on thumb drives….it seemed like something out of a movie. The Game. It didn’t take long to become aware that we were involved in an ARG/Alternate Reality Game. At face value, it’s a creative promotion for the album. To us, it’s a well planned mindf#$k that was…is…both fun and scary. The fun part is that we uncover clues, get all sleuthy, and feel like Trent is giving us gifts. An amuse bouche of the aural variety. On the other hand, Trent became a spokesperson for the current state of affairs for his fanbase, bringing background murmurs of war news and power abuse to a state of relevancy. It’s no longer an album, it’s an icon. Year Zero is both a literal and metaphorical crux, a turning point. Year Zero’s story is that it’s the beginning of a new era, and the reality is that the Year Zero experience has marked the beginning of awareness for many Nine Inch Nails fans.

If you are totally confused/captivated/concerned, visit wikipedia for the Cliff’s Notes version.

Just like the multilayered NIN tracks, this experience has many layers as well. The whole experience has also served as a big eff you to the record industry. This is NIN’s last album with Interscope, and let’s just say that Trent made sure he got in the last word. Leaked tracks and streamed albums have caused a major RIAA uproar, not to mention the incompatibility in understanding the ARG experience by the ‘suits’.

As for my review of the actual album-I love it. OK, all but one song (‘The Beginning of the End’…meh). ‘Capital G’, ‘Me, I’m Not’, and ‘In This Twilight’ are favorites.

And, of course, the official video for Survivalism:

I just can’t wait to hear them live! But, alas, Japan and Australia get them first. The Europe again. Then my patience runs out.

Leaving you with the first piece of video we received for YZ:

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