As with that of thrash, the origin of death metal is still a very debatable subject, even twenty-some years after its inception. Whether it was Possessed, Death, or Master, I do not really care, nor do I feel like pinpointing which of these acts recorded the opening notes in the opening seconds of their first demo's opening song. You can do that on your own time. As regardless of who did it first, each of these bands are important and influential on the genre. With albums such as Scream Bloody Gore and Leprosy, Florida death metallers, Death cemented their status as both innovators and torchbearers of the genre. But Death mainman, Chuck Schuldiner eventually grew tired of full on death metal and began incorporating harmonized guitars and progressive influences into his music with 1991's critically acclaimed album, Human. No longer, "just" a death metal band, the metal world highly anticipated the return of Death. And with 1993's Individual Though Patterns, they would not be disappointed.
Individual Thought Patterns continues Death's musical direction into that of progressive death metal. The 40 minute album is still home to the crushing riffs that Death has always employed, but similarly to Individual Thought Process' predecessor, Human, the riffs, solos, and drumming is much more technical than it ever has been before. Each of the album's ten tracks display the talents of Chuck and fellow guitarist Andy LaRocque exceedingly well, with chaotic, evil sounding guitar interplay taking much of the spotlight. But the efforts of the other two band members, Steve DiGiorgio and Gene Hoglan cannot be shrugged off. Similarly to the guitarists, both Steve and Gene do an excellent job in their required roles. Somewhat of a rarity in death metal, Steve DiGiorgio's bass lines are quite audible and provide a solid backup sound to the guitars. Jealousy is one track where Steve's performance plays a large role in the sound of the album. His distinct bass lines, which are played quite similarly to the guitars) are put together rather well and set up a serviceable rhythm for the other members of the band to draw from. If you're a fan of some of the more extreme genres of metal, specifically thrash metal, than you should know who Gene Hoglan is. In case you don't, Gene Hoglan was formerly the drummer of extreme thrash band Dark Angel, where he recorded some of the inhuman drumming I've ever heard. While his efforts on Individual Thought Patterns might not exactly match those on say Darkness Descends, that element of speed and destructiveness heard in Darkness of Descends has been added to Death's musical arsenal, which is always a great thing if you're a fan of the band. Gene offers a very impressive performance which definitely presents a solid, top notch rhythm for the band to follow. However, it would have been nice if the production on his drumming was a little better, as his efforts are rather low in the mix.
If there was one thing that I wasn't too fond of on Individual Thought Patterns, it would be Chuck Schildiner's voice. Chuck's vocal performance can be described simply as a deep, chaotic shout. Similar to what can be found in thrash metal, yet a little deeper and more gruesome sound, yet not deep or gruesome enough to be considered a death metal grunt. Chuck's efforts keep it rather simple and do not vary much, if at all, and despite being rather annoying, they get their job done fairly well. What his singing does not do is take away from his or the rest of the band's excellent efforts in terms of song writing or performance, but if I could trade in Chuck's shout for a more prestigious death growl, then I would in all likelihood do it, as it would definitely enhance Individual Thought Patterns and its power.
Though I had been listening to Gothenburg and melodic death metal for months before I discovered Death and two of their strongest efforts, Symbolic and Individual Thought Patterns, I would venture to guess that Death was the first full on death metal (though with progressive overtures, obviously) that I had ever given a fair chance to. And I couldn't have picked a finer band to start out with, as Death presents an excellent display of much of what makes death metal a fun genre to listen to. Brutal, yet technical guitars, both in terms of rhythm and leads; unique, effective bass lines which act more as a third guitar rather than following the guitars; and skilled, vicious drumming, which one would expect from a guy like Gene Hoglan. Sure, Chuck's vocals weren't the greatest, and the drumming could have been a little higher in the mix, but in the end, Death's sixth album is indeed a very worthwhile album. Pick it up if you can..
Trapped in a Corner
Overactive Thought Patterns
Nothing is Everything