Bleak but worthy look at the future
By Lau Kit-wai
Nine Inch Nails' latest album Year Zero is the band's first concept album.
Don't expect any of the 16 tracks to be easy-listening tunes.
'It certainly doesn't sound like anything else out there right now,' said Trent Reznor, the founder and primary creative force behind the band. It sounds more like a soundtrack for an apocalyptic sci-fi film.
The album opens fittingly with Hyperpower!, an instrumental track that builds to a climactic frenzy and then just stops, as if everything in the world had suddenly ceased to exist.
It concludes with Zero Sum which, thanks to a sombre piano part and mournful chants ('May God have mercy on our dirty little hearts'), sounds like a performance by a choir of zombies.
In between, the songs are gloomy, dark, complex, noisy and unconventional works.
Raging against war ('No one's even sure what we're fighting for' in The Good Soldier) and authority ('I pushed a button and elected him to office and he pushed a button and it dropped a bomb' in Capital G), the album tells of emotionless human beings leading mindless lives and being spoon-fed lies by the government.
In the words of Reznor, Year Zero is 'not a friendly record'.
But it certainly deserves our attention.