Year Zero

Music review by
Kathi Kamen Goldmark, Common Sense Media
Year Zero Music Poster Image
Angry, dark imagery against a back-beat.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Nihilistic doomsday fantasy might spark discussion of real fears in a scary world.

Violence

Many references to violent acts in a traumatized (futuristic) world. Screaming and scary sounds can be heard on the first track. Photo of automatic weapon in CD art.

Sex

Some sex and death metaphors that might be confusing to younger kids.

Language

"Those motherf--kers didn't last too long" and "Don't give a s--t about the temperature in Guatemala."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the message of this CD is anything but cheerful, obsessed as it is with the end of the world. There are some sex and death metaphors in the poetry, as well as a lot of other dark imagery. Parents of moody, depressive teens might want to listen to the entire album to decide if their kids should steer clear.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bydaniel.nicholas... July 20, 2009
Honestly, this album only swears on two songs, both there CSM mentioned. Dunno why they feel the need to give it 3/5. Pretty good album, but I like their older... Continue reading
Adult Written bystaticboy88 January 7, 2012

Thought provoking album suitable for teens

An album that grows on you with each listen...not NIN's finest but a treat to be sure and filled with thought provoking lyrics and at times brilliant use o... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byxsarahxc April 9, 2008

overall pretty good

This is my favorite NIN cd. It's not too bad compared to their other stuff in terms of language. It has a really great feel to it, especially the song... Continue reading
Kid, 7 years old March 3, 2010

Very hard rock

One bad word, at least that I heard

What's the story?

Nine Inch Nails' sixth studio album, YEAR ZERO, is about the end of the world, 15 years in the future. Although certainly not a jolly, life-affirming subject, this visceral audio collage employs repetitive sound effects, a strong rhythmic anchor, musical and lyrical hooks, and expressive vocals.The pastiche is passionate, dense, nihilistic, and fascinating, both musically and lyrically. "The Good Soldier" is one example of this intensity ("gun fire in the street/where we used to meet/echoes out a beat and the bass goes/bomb right over my head/step over the dead"). There's also some dalliance with sex and death metaphors: "I should have listened to her/so hard to keep control/we kept on eating but our bloated bellies still not full/she gave us all she had but we went and took some more/can't seem to shut her legs/our mother nature is a whore" on "Survivalism."

Is it any good?

If the lyrics sound too dark for your tastes, forget about them (they're mixed pretty far back anyway) and get lost in the intense, hypnotic moment. Sometimes life -- and fantasies about the world's future -- can be terrifying, but there are far worse ways to come to terms with fear than musical expression. Richly textured, dark and dreamy, Year Zero showcases Trent Reznor and company's development as artists on this ambitious conceptual dreamscape of sound.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about real fear in a terrifying world. What scares you when you see a newscast about bad things happening in real life? Is it easier to talk about actual events or to imagine a futuristic fantasy in which the world comes to a cataclysmic end?

Music details

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate