Year Zero’ mostly offers up confusion

Nine Inch Nails’ new album, Year Zero, leaves listeners with mixed feelings of fascination and disappointment.

Even before the album singles hit peer-to-peer networks and the radio, the band dropped hints and conspiracies to tease NIN fans. The band released tour merchandise that had hidden clues and led fans to Web sites with a dystopian outlook on America’s future. An alternate reality – Web sites touting conspiracy theories, hidden messages on merchandise and Web sites and even a color-changing disc – have been created to come along with this album.

The first single, "Survavilism," is probably the only song on Year Zero that has the gritty sound that made NIN a favorite among the bleak youth of the ’90s: "I got my propaganda. I got my revisionism / I got my violence in high def ultra-realism / all a part of this great nation." The rest of the album – well, the noise in Year Zero is appropriate for a bleak future that involves polluted water with mind-controlling drugs, abolishment of civil liberties and a fundamental church gone amok.

The first track, "Hyperpower!" is just the first example of instrumental tracks. War imagery returns in "The Good Solider," which is just one of NIN’s many political tracks. In "Capital G," a political head’s corruption and disconcern left the speaker cynical of the world: "Well I used to stand for something / Now I’m on my hands and knees / Traded in my god for this one / He signs his name with a capital G."

It’s interesting to try and imagine the future, but maybe Year Zero should be visited only once.

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