May 16, 2007

This is year zero.

I remember back in May 2005 when With Teeth was released. Until that point, I really hadn’t listened to Nine Inch Nails, or frontman Trent Reznor, much other than the singles that everyone has heard. I went June 2006 to Indianapolis with someone to the tour of the same name, and I remember bitching and moaning about the shitty opening bands and not expecting much from NIN. Turns out, it was one of the best shows I have seen.

So when April 17 came, and Year Zero released, I decided to give it a try. My favorite music was always the concept albums, like Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Marilyn Manson’s Holywood, and I found out that this was just that.

Year Zero takes place about 15 years in the future, projecting an Orwellian vision of where America is headed based upon its current actions and course. It’s a political statement by Reznor, attacking government, religion, and greed. The album is the first part of two in the little tale of prophecy. I wouldn’t normally write a review on a CD, but Year Zero is different, by the most interesting of the story being the elaborate back-story created through propaganda/pamphlets, websites, and emails.

Building up to its initial release, t-shirts, posters, and websites featured hidden messages directing people to other websites telling stories and giving information about the future and timeline including: the totalitarian government, the Resistance, war, a new church/religion called the Church of Plano, the revolutionary drug called Parepin, and something called The Presence.

Throughout the following weeks fans found leaked songs (which the RIAA tried to sue for, but found that the leaks were intentional) with new messages, like phone numbers. Even at one event on April 13, fans were given large “ammunition” boxes from the Resistance including: pamphlets, fliers, buttons, and even cell phones. The cell phones came with notes stating,
"If you are 18 or over, and will be in the Los Angeles area Wednesday, April 18th we need you. If not, give this hardware to someone else. This phone is your membership card to the resistance. Within the next few days, we will use it to contact you with details of this first resistance meeting. It will get you and one friend through the door. Keep it charged, and keep it with you at all times. Most importantly, there are only 100 minutes on these phones, so use them up and you'll be SOL. We'll be in touch."

This was all to create the story and feel of Year Zero. As far as the basics go, in the year 2022, the right-winged government has introduced a new drug into America’s water source, claiming it will build up your immune system to protect against biological warfare. In reality, it calms the citizens and makes them more complacent, more accepting. A resistance has sprung up and fights back against church and state, that are almost one and the same now. There also seems to be a story of a new plague affecting the world called the Red Horse Virus. There are many characters introduced, like the Angry Sniper, who seems to be the narrator on “The Great Destroyer” with lyrics like:

“Say your name
Try to speak as clearly as you can
You know everything gets written down
Nod your head
Just in case they could be watching
With their shiny satellites"

"I hope they cannot see
The limitless potential
Living inside of me
To murder everything
I hope they cannot see
I am the Great Destroyer”

There are also others vaguely mentioned in songs, but fleshed out on the websites, like John of Boston, who senses The Presence. Within the Year Zero timeline, The Presence is the most mysterious. It seems to be like a giant, ghostly hand that reaches down from the sky (featured on the main cover of the album) and fills people with great fear, insignificance, and forgetfulness. The government has caught wind of the sightings and while blaming it on hallucinations from the new drug, Parepin, also goes around taking custody of these people and putting them in a place called Judson Orgam Correctional Facility. It seems to all be building up to the coming of The Presence on February 10, 0000. The most interesting part about The Presence came from the very first song leak of “My Violent Heart” in which the song ends with five seconds of static. Amazingly, someone decided to run it through an audio spectrometer, and found this image:

The album, and its future counterpart, stands to serve as a warning. The road we are traveling may end different than what we hope for. Lyrics from “Me, I’m Not” sum up his warning best:

“I can win this war
By knowing not to fight
If I take it all back
Some way, somehow
If I knew back then
What I know right now”

There is much more at work here than what appears on the surface. Understanding more of the story makes each time you listen different from the last. Probably the most comprehensive source for the story is the Unofficial Nine Inch Nails Wiki at:

Also interesting is that Reznor is in talks for turning Year Zero and its follow-up album into movies.

So don't be the whiny bitch like I used to be. Give Reznor and Year Zero a chance, because "I would never tell you anything that wasn't absolutely true that hadn't come right from His mouth and He wants me to tell you."

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...