8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Reznor Keeps His Crown as a Genius of Modern Music,
This review is from: Year Zero (Audio CD)
It goes without saying that Trent Reznor is a musical legend in his own right. Album after album, he changes his sound, tries to outreach his own limits, and normally somehow succeeds. And in "Year Zero", his latest offering, he certainly isn't playing it safe. The drugs have vanished, the gothic instrumental style, has vanished (apart from opener HYPERPOWER!). But does this make much of a difference? Based on "Survivalism" solely, no, and as for the rest of the album, you can give the same answer.
He flies through this album like a soaring rocket flying higher with more confidence, he sounds like he didn't try too hard, didn't find it too hard to make this record, and that is a little touch that makes it more pleasing overall. Obviously through, he can still produce the sense that the sky is going to fall in over your head like an enraged juggernaut, and can still make genuinely scary songs. The single, "Survialism" is glorious, unashamed and downright ugly. It's modern rhythm stunned my ears the first time I listened to it and it still does after its 30th listen. You will never to get tired of it, however that can't be said for every single song on this album.
"Vessel" has its jawdroppingly uncomfortably lyrics, "I'll let you put it in my mouth/ I'll let it get under my skin" and there is the mixture of electronica and heavy guitar, something which dominates the record, but there is something about it which puts you off listening to it again, it doesn't go too far. And the closer, "Zero Sum" leaves you feeling like you've heard it all before, but it's an interesting way to finish a record, to remind you of everything you've heard, whether it was purposeful or not.
But dear God, when NIN deliver, they deliver big time. "The Great Detroyser" enters its outrageous techno stage 1 and 3 quarter minutes in, your head shakes, not everybody will like it, but it sounds incredible with headphones on. As does "God Given", built up like a cheesy entertainer's words "come on, sing along, everybody now!", suddenly enters warp mode, disguising itself like a mystery, urging you to press that repeat button, just to check if you heard what you thought you heard.
There are strong moments, there are weak moments, it's one of those records.
Certainly not his best effort, but there are moments which could create the greatest, greatest hits album of all time if Reznor played his cards right.