Review: Individual Thought Patterns
Magazine: Metal Maniacs / USA
Written by: Don Kaye
Published: 1993

With the fifth Death album, Individual Thought Patterns, Chuck Schuldiner goes a long way toward singlehandedly offering life for the death metal genre. In these days when the field is dominated by bands who play so fast that they literally deconstruct their own music, where gurgled lyrics race incoherently through forensic terminology or occult claptrap, Chuck bravely expands his parameters.

As Death has gradually become less of a band and more of a vehicle for Chuck's progression, he continues to surround himself with top-notch musicans. Amazingly, the threesome he's assembled around thim this time is probably his most talented, yest most diverse bunch yet. Bassist Steve DiGiorgio from Sadus (the only holdover from the last Death effort, Human) is a jazzy, free-form player, while ex-Dark Angel drummer Gene Hoglan is a master of keeping solid, bottom-heavy rhythms and peppering the songs with a ton of fills in the best thrash tradition. But the most surprising addition is King Diamond lead guitarist Andy LaRocque, whose classical metal style gives Death a whole new dimension.

There's still plenty of Death trademarks: the low-tuned riffing is all there, and Chuck's vocals are as guttural and agonizingly wrought as ever, while retaining the clarity he's always striven for. Yet the lead work is more melodic and thoughtful than ever, and Steve's basswork -it sounds like he's using a fretless on several songs- brings an improvisatory feel to many of the tempo changes.

"Overactive Imagination", "In Human Form", and "Jealousy" are the most immediate of the bunch here. Other tunes, like "Trapped In A Corner" and "Mentally Blind" take more time to absorb as they're more convoluted. But nothing here is complicated for the sake of complication. With its sharp song structure, attention to melody, mix of styles, and yes, brutal heaviness, Individual Thought Patterns is a personal triumph for Chuck as well as a bold statement for Death -and death metal.

Don Kaye

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EmptyWords-Published on May 13 2003