Review: Individual Thought Patterns
Magazine: Amazon / USA
Written by: Craig McLaughlin
Published: September 2006

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.


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Edited for Empty©Words 12-13-08