Thought Industry
Songs For Insects


4.5
superb

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
September 5th, 2007 | 61 replies | 11,619 views


Release Date: 1992 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A challenging, complex slab of prog bringing in everything from thrash to industrial to punk and alternative rock. The album that made Jason Newsted personally make sure they got signed.

Imagine a band that has decided to simultaneously embrace multiple sub-genres of metal and alternative music but at the same time alter them enough to force you to throw out all preconceived notions of what those genres should be about. This is what Thought Industry have done on their debut album, Songs For Insects. These guys have made such a twisted and unique album that it can safely be said that there is nothing else out there that is similar to this. Within the framework of each song is a plethora of influences all working together to create something greater then the sum of their parts. Imagine, if you will, listening to Metallica, Ministry, and Mr. Bungle all as one band with a healthy dose of punk influence and attitude and you’re at least in the ball park of what you might expect from this album.

The first preconceived notion to be thrown out is that this progressive metal band (for lack of a better term) used a producer who is well known as a producer of traditional industrial and electronic music, not metal bands. Songs for Insects was produced by David Ogilvie of Skinny Puppy fame, and he was able to get a great sound for these guys. The guitars have a razor sharp tone and make it very easy for you to hear what they’re playing clearly. The bass is high in the mix and is always audible, which is a great thing since the bass player does some amazing things on this album, sounding like Les Claypool of Primus on speed. The drums are also very clear allowing the listener to be able to tell that this guy could probably give Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater a challenge. The vocals are also very cleverly done, as they don’t always just ride in the center of the speakers. The vocals fade in, fade out, swirl from one speaker to another, overlap and disintegrate, sometimes within less then a minute’s time.

In addition to the great sound that Dave was able to get for these guys, it’s also worth mentioning just how many great sounds there are. Generally, mentioning the instruments a metal band plays isn’t a requirement, but in this case it is. In order to get the sound and the unique style they were looking for, the guitar players play both fretted and fretless six and seven string guitars. The bass player plays fretted and fretless bass as well as Chapman Stick. The drummer plays an acoustic/electronic hybrid set that I’d imagine is similar to the one the drummer in Cynic used. In addition you will also find acoustic guitars, samples, loops, keyboards, and piano over the course of the album. When brought all together it makes for an album that is very unique and challenging for the listener and definitely requires multiple listens to fully absorb.

All of those instruments, even if played well, wouldn’t really mean much if the vocals and lyrics didn’t match the unique and complex nature of the songs… fortunately they do, and the lyrics themselves even exceed the complexity of the music. Vocally this guy is all over the place. He doesn’t sing like you’d expect a metal singer to sing at all. There are no real metal vocals (i.e. Metallica-style) nor are there any high-pitched vocals you might expect from a band labeled as “progressive”. He sings more in a mid-ranged style similar to a punk vocalist like Pennywise or Bad Religion, but he also uses all kinds of filters for his voice through out a song too. His vocals can go from a punk sound, to distorted Ministry sounding vocals, to processed vocals similar to Ogre of Skinny Puppy to hardcore screams (think Minor Threat). If the spectrum of vocal styles wasn’t enough to challenge you, the lyrics are definitely what puts you over the edge. The vocalist writes in a stream-of-consciousness style and the songs are all very metaphorical with individual lines making sense, but when taken as a whole always seem to leave you wondering if your interpretation is correct. An example of that is from the song "Songs for Insects" which goes like this:

I sing poems of rebellion. Lax russet lips lavish scabrous empathy. Without rights I kowtow. A silly carcass burrowing forward. This reads terms of vast cosmos for Tiananmen Square or felt dampness in meat. I crave iced pavement to clot my languid flesh. Without rights I blunder. A bloated child lost in a flaccid smile…

In case it isn’t obvious, it’s worth mentioning that the vocabulary used on this album is definitely something that could even make Greg Graffin (Bad Religion) stand up and take notice. Despite the fact that most the songs are average in length, they still come off as epic feeling, especially when listened to altogether. There is also very little in the way of anger present, which is odd for a metal album, instead it feels more like a news reporter speaking of what he sees. The complexity of the lyrics and the vocals make it seem more like you’re listening to a retelling of an epic poem, not anything that the singer personally witnessed or experienced… it’s an odd feeling.

Despite all this talk of complexity, the album actually starts out fairly unassuming with the first song being very listener friendly with only a few simple chugging riffs and no jarring musical changes to speak of except for when the guitar solo kicks in. It should be noted that these guys never succumb to needless solos; in fact there are almost no guitar solos at all. It’s always a band effort and almost always has vocals over the top of it. The next song, "Songs for Insects," is when you realize you’re in for a ride. This is a nine-minute song that has more time changes, riffs, notes, styles, and overall musical ability then most bands have over the course of an entire album. It starts out with a thrashing riff which switches into a prog melody with some punk sounding vocals, which switches back to the first riff but with industrial vocals over the top, it makes this switch three more times within the first minute of the song before dismissing it entirely and moving on to something new. It seems to be a metaphorical retelling of the incident in Tiananmen Square, with commentary and associations made to other regions.

Each song is so different and has so many things going on that no review could ever fully describe this album. With that in mind, I’ll just move on to another track of note called "Daughter Mobius". It starts out sounding like something that could be from the self-titled Mr. Bungle album (minus the keyboards and horns), but in an instant changes over to one of the heaviest riffs on the album, but only for a few seconds before changing back over to the Mr. Bungle sound but this time with a punk influence in the drumming and random industrial influences in the vocal delivery. It seems to be talking about the state of our political situation through a metaphor about an apathetic girl with “daddy issues”… weird stuff. Later in the album we have what could be considered the cornerstone of the album with "The Chalice Vermillion". This is the song that brings all the elements of this band together in the most cohesive and easily digestible state as it is probably the most traditionally prog song on the album. It has the prog melodies, the amazing technical drumming, the thrashy riffs, all the vocal styles, and some of the best bass playing in memory. This song seems to have something to do with a girl slitting her wrists because of God, and the protagonist uses the blood to write a poem of his love for her as she bleeds to death.

Throughout the album as a whole you’ll constantly find yourself challenged by the sudden musical changes, the virtuosity of the musicians, the complexity of the lyrics, as well as the vocal delivery of those lyrics. You’ll find yourself hearing new things with every listen and you’ll find yourself slowly coming to some conclusion of what the song is actually talking about. If you like your metal easily digestible or at least only taking a few listens to really understand then this is not for you. On the other hand, if you like your metal to be as engaging, technical, challenging and unique as possible then you shouldn’t find yourself disappointed. Also, since it’s been around for quite a while it should be fairly cheap when you do find it.



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user ratings (45)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
HotSalvation
September 5th 2007



258 Comments


oooo

Confessed2005
September 5th 2007



3314 Comments


This sounds really interesting.

Willie
Moderator
September 5th 2007



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Believe me, it is. I've actually had the album since 92 when I bought it on tape (I have it on CD now)... and I still hear new things almost every time. It's well worth tracking down. I found it on Amazon for $3 or something like that. Their second album is even better and even more warped but in a different way.

Digging: Teramaze - Esoteric Symbolism

Wizard
September 6th 2007



18773 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Your reviews are very well written. I want to check these guys out!

Digging: Triptykon - Melana Chasmata

Willie
Moderator
September 7th 2007



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thank you... due to the rules in place here I can't make any of the songs playable through the site, and I don't think I can even post a link to a site that does have song samples if it's not straight from the artist page or label page...

Amazon has this used for like $3.00 or something like that though.This Message Edited On 09.07.07

Wizard
December 14th 2007



18773 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hahahaha I did comment on this review already but I never followed through with checking it out. This review was much more interesting to read the second time due to the fact that I've now been exposed to these guys. Can you send me that link to download this album? Thanks again Willie!This Message Edited On 12.15.07

Willie
Moderator
December 14th 2007



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Check your e-mail... remember, that the first song is pretty straight-forward on this album... but it's still good.

fireaboveicebelow
May 30th 2008



6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hey the cover is a Dali painting...sweet, I'm getting this

Willie
Moderator
May 30th 2008



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album and their next one both have Dali paintings as their covers. Their next album (mods carve the pig) is even stranger and more challenging then this one too.This Message Edited On 05.30.08

fireaboveicebelow
May 30th 2008



6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm looking on blogspots but the only album I've found so far is Short Waves On A Cold Day, so we'll see 8)

Willie
Moderator
May 30th 2008



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, the albums after this one and the next one started becoming more alternative rock as more and more original members left (the album you mentioned only has the vocalist from this album left on it).

Willie
Moderator
May 31st 2008



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Here is a video of them performing "The Challice Vermillion" live. The sound quality is questionable, and vocally it wasn't his best day, but you can clearly see the guitar and bass being played and see how nuts they are:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pF4G7tqs6yo

Also, here is a link to the demo that got them signed (near the bottom of the page):
http://www.leonstemple.com/thoughtindustry.html

Also, here is a link to the demo of them pre-Thought Industry when they were still called "Desecrator":
http://www.leonstemple.com/desecrator.html

This Message Edited On 01.31.09

fireaboveicebelow
May 31st 2008



6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

badass, they're from michigan. that was a cool video, but the guitar work didnt look that hard...now the bass...whew

Willie
Moderator
May 31st 2008



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The guitar work is complicated. It's easier to tell with the real albums. But, yeah, the
bass playing on that video is awesome.This Message Edited On 05.31.08

jingledeath
February 5th 2009



7104 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this would've been a solid 4 but the vocals annoy me a bit so rating goes down to 3.5.

Willie
Moderator
February 5th 2009



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, he was definitely still developing them on this album but they go in so many different directions and the music is so involved that it's not overbearing at all (IMO). I actually like them.

jingledeath
February 5th 2009



7104 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I give vocals a lot of attention and here the music is great but it's a bit hard for me to listen to because of the vocals. Thankfully the problem is fixed on the next album.

Willie
Moderator
February 5th 2009



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

He definitely changes them for the better on the next album. You'd have a hard time listening to their demos than because the vocals aren't bad but they're not as developed as they are on here.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
February 9th 2010



5612 Comments


will check them out.-

Digging: Mekong Delta - In A Mirror Darkly

SteelErectedb4you8er
February 14th 2010



2612 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, Brent's vocals took a change for the better after this album, but it is still an awesome slab of music. As in your review, they throw in a lot of different styles. You should hear their cover of Red Barchetta from Rush. it is spectacular.



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