One of the most consistent and popular acts in the Baltimore/DC area’s electro/industrial scene has been Mindless Faith; blending politically charged lyrics with alt. rock aggression and beats tailormade for the dance floor, the interplay of brothers Jason and Chris Sevanick – along with a host of regular contributors – has earned the band a sizable reputation. But now, Insectual presents something of a paradigm shift as Jason Sevanick not only takes the reigns but also takes the sound into a slower, more introspective, and even more cinematic scope that will surely leave many asking if this is indeed Mindless Faith. Throughout the record are all the ingredients of the group’s sound up to now, with the merger of vibrant guitar tones with resonant electronics and engaging rhythms… but now, they are slowed down to allow for a breathier, more celestial quality that is almost reminiscent of the sci-fi flights of fancy one would expect from anything Klayton releases under his Celldweller moniker. For instance, after the opening “Larva – The Prologue” eases us into the album with plucky guitar tones evoking a Middle Eastern or deserted alien landscape, “Moth without a Moon” enters with skittering electronic pulses and an insistent bass groove that underscore the almost insectoid assault of Monica Durant’s vocals, her harmonic refrain in the bridge enhanced by vocoders to create a spectral effect that is rather excellent, but not what one might expect from the band. Similarly, Tyler Wolosin’s emotive tenor reaches those peaks of melodic grandeur on songs like “Breeding Ground” and “You’re Not You Anymore,” the latter truly sounding like an anthemic theme to a sci-fi movie or video game soundtrack, while :3lon’s almost operatic voice amid a ghostly chorale on “Howl” could easily play in the background to a reading of Paul Bowles’ The Sheltering Sky. Even as regular cohort Kim Dylla lends her signature acerbic voice to “Beasts,” thus adding some venom to the song’s bite of sustained psy-trance leads and crunchy guitars atop some truly dynamic rhythms, it still doesn’t quite feel like the Mindless Faith of old… not that that’s necessarily a bad thing; in fact, songs on which Sevanick sings in his usual guttural and husky style like “Monochrome,” “Bait,” and especially “Maggots” are certainly more recognizable to the band’s past sound, the latter track especially so with its forceful rhythms, caustic bass and guitar tones, and sociopolitical lyrics, but are arguably the least interesting tracks on the record. “Imago – The Epilogue” closes things out with the twinkling sounds of piano and cello bursting into an assault of guitar and synth, sounding like something off of Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile. On the whole, Insectual is as finely crafted and masterfully produced as any of the band’s past albums, but one must wonder as to the band’s projected direction having taken such a stylistic detour. As stated, many may struggle to reconcile this with what we’ve heard from Mindless Faith so far – is this a change to be embraced, or should this album have been released under another moniker?