Year Zero (album)

Year Zero
Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero.png
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 17, 2007 (2007-04-17)
RecordedSeptember–December 2006
Nine Inch Nails chronology
With Teeth
Year Zero
Year Zero Remixed
Halo numbers chronology
Halo 23
Halo 24
Halo 25
Singles from Year Zero
  1. "Survivalism"
    Released: March 13, 2007
  2. "Capital G"
    Released: June 11, 2007

Year Zero is the fifth studio album by American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, released by Interscope Records on April 17, 2007. Frontman Trent Reznor wrote the album's music and lyrics while touring in support of the band's previous album, With Teeth (2005). In contrast to the introspective style of songwriting Reznor has used on other albums, Year Zero is a concept album that criticizes contemporary policies of the United States government by presenting a dystopian vision of the year 2022.

The album is part of a larger Year Zero project which includes a remix album, an alternate reality game and a potential television or film project. The Year Zero alternate reality game expanded upon the album's fictional storyline by using media such as websites, pre-recorded phone messages, and murals. However, disputes arose between Reznor and Universal Music Group, the parent company of Interscope Records, over overseas pricing of the album. In October 2007, Reznor announced that Nine Inch Nails had fulfilled its contractual commitments to Interscope, effectively ending the band's relationship with the label; thus Year Zero was the last Nine Inch Nails studio album released on the Interscope label.

Upon its release in April 2007, Year Zero sold over 187,000 copies in its first week and reached number two on the US Billboard 200 chart. The album also received generally positive reviews, many of which were also favorable toward the accompanying alternate reality game. Year Zero spawned the singles "Survivalism" and "Capital G".


"This record began as an experiment with noise on a laptop in a bus on tour somewhere. That sound led to a daydream about the end of the world. That daydream stuck with me and over time revealed itself to be much takes place about fifteen years in the future. Things are not good. If you imagine a world where greed and power continue to run their likely course, you'll have an idea of the backdrop. The world has reached the breaking point – politically, spiritually and ecologically. Written from various perspectives of people in this world, Year Zero examines various viewpoints set against an impending moment of truth."[1]

—Trent Reznor on Year Zero, 2007

In a 2005 interview with Kerrang!, Trent Reznor expressed his intentions to write material for a new release while on tour promoting With Teeth. He reportedly began work on the new album by September 2006.[2] Reznor devised much of the album's musical direction on his laptop.[3] Reznor told Kerrang! in a later interview, "When I was on the Live: With Teeth tour, to keep myself busy I just really hunkered down and was working on music the whole time, so this kept me in a creative mode and when I finished the tour I felt like I wasn't tired and wanted to keep at it."[4]

The limitations of devising the album's musical direction on a tour bus forced Reznor to work differently from usual. Reznor said, "I didn't have guitars around because it was too much hassle ... It was another creative limitation ... If I were in my studio, I would have done things the way I normally do them. But not having the ability to do that forced me into trying some things that were fun to do."[5]

By the end of the tour, Reznor began work on the album's lyrical concepts, attempting to break away from his typically introspective approach. Reznor drew inspiration from his concern at the state of affairs in the United States and at what he envisioned as the country's political, spiritual, and social direction.[6] Year Zero was mixed in January 2007,[7] and Reznor stated on his blog that the album was finished as of February 5.[8] The album's budget was a reported US$2 million, but since Reznor composed most of the album himself on his laptop and in his home-studio, much of the budget instead went toward the extensive accompanying promotional campaign.[5]

A song cut from the album included vocal work by Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme. The same year, Reznor contributed vocals to their song "Era Vulgaris", which was also cut from the album of the same name.[9]

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