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Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero CD (album) cover


Nine Inch Nails


Crossover Prog

3.19 | 81 ratings

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3 stars Industrial to the max and the machines rock.

My first exposure to this weird band was the film clip 'Closer'; the depraved visuals and its expletive heavy indecent lyrical nature stunned me to the core and I decided then and there to give this a wide berth but now they raise their ugly heads on the crossover prog section. I put the CD on fearing the worst in mind jarring industrial metal with heavy use of the F bomb and horrible vocalisations from Reznor. The images of Reznor hanging from the ceiling by videotape and that tortured monkey was enough to disturb my senses. That is what I expected. This is what I got.

Hyperpower - Massive heavy pounding drums and fuzzed low guitar, with estranged screaming chanting, and inaudible lyrics begin this album.

The Beginning of the End - Interesting riff and clean vocals. Repetitive "this is the beginning" but did not sound too bad. It builds to a heavier sound. Survivalism ? Fuzzed distorted guitars, very industrial sound, intriguing drones. Nasty dark chorus and off beat time sig. The ending is great with grinding guitars and mechanised drones.

The Good Soldier - A huge bass line carries this and Treznor's vocals are rather easy to take. The melody is catchy and even singable would you believe; "I am trying to believe, this is not where I should be". The lead break is simple but effective. Another highlight from the album.

Vessel - This begins immediately without a break and focuses on an industrial shrieking rhythm that grates along with the bizarre lyrics. The sound is slicing and dicing like a machine. I can see why Gary Numan is interested in this band. The sound is kind of like the grinding percussion attack in U2's 'Numb'. Once again it is a track that works well due to this experimentalism with sounds. Towards the end the industrial sounds go haywire with grinding, beeps and slashes, as if the band has become mechanised and the machines have taken over. This is the trademark NIN sound that fans revel in.

Me, I'm Not - This begins with a strong rhythm and the hushed vocals of Reznor. Once again it is very much like the latest type of sound from Gary Numan's 'Pure' or 'Jagged'. There is a melody on guitars that works against the heavy percussion as a musical interlude. There are some bizarre effects that create an Impressive sound unlike what I expected.

Capital G - The strangest track on the album featuring a quirky melody and zany guitar effects. There is lots of brass to accompany the high strangeness though the brass is filtered with effects. William Artope is on trumpet, Matt Demeritt on tenor sax, Josh Freese on drums, Jeff Gallegos on saxophone and Elizabeth Lea on trombone. The track does have some expletives that are discernible but its not as over the top as 'Closer'.

My Violent Heart - This track has some whispered low key singing and a loud chorus with bass heavy percussion. The shades of light and dark, of tension and release, drives the song.

The Warning - Very industrial machine noises create a strong rhythmic onslaught. Reznor's vocals are disturbed and offbeat; "we've come to intervene... your time's tick tick ticking away...." The guitars ascend and descend over the metrical patterns. It is a disconcerting atmosphere, very dark and off kilter, and there is emphasis on phased guitars.

God Given - A faster pace on this drives it and a huge chorus with multi layered vocals. This is broken by whispers. The beat is heavy almost disco, but as dark as ever. The zippy synth sounds are powerful and aggressive.

Meet Your Master - Full on percussive shapes are accompanied by computer game effects, then the vocals begin, and they are non-stop in the verses. A very loud chorus breaks the quieter moments. Numanesque industrial passages fill the soundscape in the instrumental section. This segues straight into:

The Greater Good - Reznor whispers as the synth and bass vibrations meander along slowly. It is a very dark ambient sound threatening to explode. One sound is like a glockenspiel and this merges with squiggly synth and what may be a harp. A piercing whine finishes it off.

The Great Destroyer - A rhythm guitar and synth pulses create the beat as the vocals move along moderately. A more accessible track with an interesting mod section with extreme bass heavy synth experimental vibrations. The mind melting rhythms are incredible on this track. They just blast out of the speakers with scare-your-neighbours ferocity.

Another Version of the Truth - A slow distorted whine builds slowly, with menacing foreboding patience. A piano is heard quietly playing, as the whine builds in pitch, then it shuts down without warning and becomes a stagnant high resonance. The reverberation continues as the piano plays a quiet melody. This instrumental is more minimalist, without any percussion, and is a welcome relief from all the extreme hi tech tracks previous.

In This Twilight - The vocals return for this track and the blasting percussion is present. There is always a melody in the chorus that is catchy and enchanting.

Zero-Sum - It is the longest track at over 6 minutes and once again the whispered vocals and synths are emphasised. Strange shifts in time sigs are compelling, and the song breaks into a piano melody with ultra heavy percussion. It finishes with minimalist piano and a quiet drone.

So at the end of this am I converted fan? Not quite, but I did enjoy the album. The heavy industrial percussion is a key factor to the band and Reznor's estranged vocal style, his whispered vocals in the verses and louder choruses create the darkness and light. Hyper rhythms and machine effects drive the album with some moments of respite. Overall I was surprised at how accomplished a musician is Reznor having played just about every instrument except track 1 and 7. He is definitely talented and at times very innovative in his approach to alternative industrial metal or crossover prog. It was not what I expected in fact I was pleased to hear it. ***

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |


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