Nine Inch Nails, Year Zero

Nine Inch Nails' ambitious marketing campaign for their latest release has been well documented. By leaving mp3-loaded USB drives at concerts in bathroom stalls to secret clues hidden in tour t-shirts, NIN have successfully used underground, word-of-mouth advertising to promote their politically-charged Year Zero to the masses. While the tactics are interesting, what really matters is the music. New fans will be exhilarated by Trent Reznor's buzzsaw beats, layered static noise and apocalyptic assault of samples (which are heavily influenced by Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet). But fans that have followed NIN will find a batch of recycled digital effects, lazy guitar parts and techno-dub trappings, all of which make for a groggy 60-minute listen. Still, Reznor patiently builds each song with panned distortions and juicy, pulsating reverb effects. From a production standpoint, Year Zero is an electro-punk masterpiece, but studio wizardry doesn't add up to great songs, which the album seriously lacks(Nothing Records/Universal) Rating: 2.5 Out Of 5 Stars

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