Michigan’s forgotten chameleon metal band Thought Industry exemplified new environments with each release, and through the changes in sound never lost the visions and messages and stories they wished to get across. Their last album, the first to indulge in unsystematic, quasi alternative sounds, had been forgotten by the band, and they dropped everything to establish a new, bleak path. Fortunately for people with weird perspectives, like me, this is one of those albums not many people will enjoy, due to its raw, depression-filled nihilism.
The song structures are strangely conventional, or at least for this band. They follow a formula to varying measures of success…and somehow at first listen nothing makes any sense at all. That declaration alone doesn’t make any sense; the older albums had nothing remotely conventional about them, the bassist made Victor Wooten look like Michael Anthony, so now they tone all the instruments down, writing with a more standard structure, and it’s on this album where they don’t make sense. Whatever, the point is that this album is hard to digest the first one or two or ten listens, but once you reach the greener grass you’ll have an alternative album unlike any other. Plus, this has an interesting attribute of what I call “LP format” where it sounds like the first half of the album is in its own right from the second half, as if you have to flip your record over to hear part two.
The story of the album plays out like a drunken December when everything in your life has, to put it bluntly, **** on you. The lyrics read like an autobiography at times as well:
Screw yesterday, or two hours back
because the pubs have kicked me out again, and the Christmas lights make me pissed
I stumble through the snow into a dimestore nativity scene
I fell asleep on baby Jesus with my books on Joseph’s back
The snow had turned to rain while I dreamt I was falling
a stick to the ribs can rouse the drunken dead, and so this cop has his fingers round my neck
screaming “blah blah blah, let’s see that license, blah blah blah, how could you do this"”
Christmas eve is a beautiful day to have breakfast in the tank
In the booklet, the lyrics are written in a really blotted pen, and at parts there are bits of “weep, boo hoo, sob” written. The pictures of the band members show them as either asleep, zoned out, or drunk. The rudimentary drawings that make up the artwork seem to exemplify a sort of sub-story; it looks like sex going on in all of them. The drawings are so crude it’s as if Brent locked himself away to make these right before the lyrics. It’s really no wonder the songs sound like they do.
When you listen to Thought Industry, you usually expect a schizophrenic metal/hardcore madness to ensue, as if you’re happily running over a bunch of brand new babies with a lawnmower while eating your veggies like a good boy. However, with this record it’s as if you walked to a grand piano shop, found a discarded Steinway, and tipped it over onto your head, and just laid there. You have nothing to do but think about what just happened, and that’s just the way you want it for now.