Death, along with Slayer, were pretty much the founding fathers
of the genre since known as death metal. Now I know that many
consider Possessed's 1985 album Seven Churches to be the first
true death metal record, but it was Death, and later Sepultura,
that would really establish the most brutality and features that
all death metal bands would follow. Vocalist/guitar virtuoso Chuck
Schuldiner formed the band way back in the early '80's, and as
aggressive and darkly-themed as Slayer was, Schuldiner's band
single-handedly outdid the former in many ways, namely the vocals.
The vocals are perhaps the most important and distinguishing features
of death metal, and separate the genre from its close half-sibling,
thrash metal. As well, the lyrics are generally as dark as Slayer's
(ranging the whole gamut of all things offensive, from death and
destruction to anti-religion and Satanism - BUT ALL FOR ENTERTAINMENT
VALUES). But just as important as the vocals and lyrics are lots
of heavy, double-bass riddled drumming, loud, shredding guitars,
and deep, chugging bass. Oh, and lots of time changes throughout.
As time progressed, bands tried to outdo each other in intensity,
but unfortunately, too many focused their "talent" on
the lyrics, which went from eerie and evil to just plain sick
(*cough*Cannibal Corpse*cough*). However, Death, although they
progressed in their own respective ways (especially in band lineups;
Schuldiner would ultimately be the only consistent member), would
never become so immature.
Now that you know how important and significant Death is, here
is my review for INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS. This album clearly
shows how amazing a guitarist and songwriter Chuck Schuldiner
is. Just pick a song - any song - and you will be blown away by
his duels with then-fellow lead/rhythm guitarist Andy LaRocque
(formerly of King Diamond). Now I know there are all the great
twin-guitarist lineups out there, like Mustaine and Friedman,
Smith and Harris, King and Hanneman, etc., but good lord, LISTEN
to Schuldiner and LaRocque play! Death, as well as being the first
true death metal band, would also be one of the innovators of
the importance of melody - which there is plenty of on this album.
Because of how dense the songs are, Schuldiner has sure picked
up some incredible musicians to play his music.
Speaking of incredible musicians, I was finally enlightened by
the drumming of the great Gene Hoglan. This guy is SICK. He is
so fast and so complex, it's not even funny. I'm a fan of such
complex drummers as Mike Portnoy, Henry Ranta, and Dave Lombardo,
and it won't be long before Hoglan is up in that list, as well.
Finally, there's no denying Steve DiGiorgio's talent on bass (he
plays a fretless one, too!), even though he's the type to play
with a band simply for the royalties.
Also, Chuck Schuldiner is an amazing death metal vocalist. His
deep, throaty wails and grunts are good because, although still
hard to understand, are far more clear than Cannibal Corpse, Morbid
Angel, and Mortician's vocalizations. That's a big plus, because
Schuldiner is a complex lyricist, with songs that focus on things
far more interesting than a million ways to kill someone. In fact,
this album has few lyrics that even are ABOUT death; it appears
to be a sociological look at how people try far too hard to be
what they are not. Now how many other death metal bands can you
say have lyrics like THAT?
A few standout songs include "Destiny," with its fingerpicked
acoustic/clean electric guitar intro. "Out of Touch"
is also very good, with deep, smashing riffs. As well, the use
of keyboards in "Mentally Blind" adds an eerie feel.
Finally, the solo in "The Philosopher" is so spacey
and melodic. But in general, all the songs are great; this is
a great ALBUM; you can just sit down and listen to each song and
love it all as a whole.
Finally, my one and only complaint: the production is pretty quiet.
A remaster would be a great thing for this, but what can I say?
At least the songs can be HEARD, and having heard them, I know
that this is a great album from one of the most important bands
in the genre of death metal.