DEATH — Individual Thought Patterns (review)

DEATH — Individual Thought Patterns album cover Album · 1993 · Technical Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
"Individual Thought Patterns" is the 5th full-length studio album by US, Florida based death metal act Death. The album was released through Relativity Records in June 1993. It´s the successor to "Human (1991)", which was an album that signalled a change in style for Death. While the first three albums displayed an increasingly technical nature, they are still first and foremost old school death metal releases, but with "Human (1991)" bandleader/guitarist/vocalist Chuck Schuldiner brought in a new cast of musicians, who were on a much higher technical level than their predecessors, and as a result of that "Human (1991)" became one of the seminal technical death metal releases of the early 90s.

"Individual Thought Patterns" is in many ways a natural successor to "Human (1991)", and that´s despite a couple of lineup changes. Chuck Schuldiner still handles lead vocals and guitars, and bassist Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus) has opted for another run too, but guitarist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert (both from Cynic) have left to be replaced by King Diamond guitarist Andy LaRocque and Dark Angel drummer Gene Hoglan. It says a lot about the size and success of Death in those days, that Schuldiner was able to recruit those two rather prolific and greatly skilled musicians for the recording of "Individual Thought Patterns"...

...and the two new guys make their mark immediately on the opening track "Overactive Imagination". LaRocque´s melodic and neo-classical influenced guitar style and Hoglan´s fast precision playing are great assets to Death´s sound, and perfectly compliment Schuldiner´s raw snarl and sharp riffs/solos and DiGiorgio´s busy fretless bass playing. The Cynic guys arguably did a great job on "Human (1991)", and I wouldn´t say the "Individual Thought Patterns" lineup is stronger than that lineup, but it´s fully on par with it.

The songwriting hasn´t changed much since the predecessor and we´re still treated to technically well played death metal (maybe slightly more technical in nature than the material on "Human (1991)"). It´s powerful, raw, and quite sophisticated (including the lyrics which are relatively clever for the genre), but also rather formulaic and generally featuring very few surprises. Most tracks are structured with a succesion of riffs/vers/chorus/bridge, a mid-section with a solo/solos, and then a return of the same riffs/vers/chorus/bridge as the track opened with. It´s not really a surprise though, as Death has more or less written tracks with that structure since "Leprosy (1988)" (with a few exceptions). It´s probably a matter of not messing with a formula which works, and it arguably works here and makes the material relatively accessible and quite catchy for death metal.

"Individual Thought Patterns" features a powerful and detailed sound production, which is overall a bit less bottom heavy compared to the sound on the predecessor, but no less intense and raw. Upon conclusion "Individual Thought Patterns" is yet another high quality release in Death´s discography. It´s not quite as big a revelation as "Human (1991)" was when it was released, but the songwriting quality, the musicianship, and the sound production are of as high quality as they were on the predecessor. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.
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