Nine Inch Nails: "Year Zero"
Producers: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
Nothing/Interscope
Release Date: April 17

The audio component of the dystopian back story that frames the record and its attendant Web angle/ publicity stunt, "Year Zero" is reportedly set 15 years into the future in a world controlled by a violent theocracy, where, in keeping with Orwellian law, citizens are regularly drugged and a God-hand has been known to reach down from the sky. None of that strays terribly far from NIN's usual lyrical stomping grounds, but it's fun to hear Trent Reznor play other roles and fire holes into the technology he's been so vital in employing. Ironically, Reznor marries this story with some of NIN's least-busy and funkiest industrial accompaniment to date. Though there's plenty of the industrial scratch-and-fuzz that he's all but patented ("My Violent Heart"), there are more rewards buried in tracks like the blackly sexy "The Good Soldier," the morbidly funky "Capital G" and the requisite piano-based denouement ("Zero Sum"—three guesses if this story ends happily). --Jeff Vrabel