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Death > Individual Thought Patterns > Reviews > Evil_Biff_Tannen
Death - Individual Thought Patterns

Progressive ecstasy consumed by maddening genius - 100%

Evil_Biff_Tannen, February 11th, 2024
Written based on this version: 1993, CD, Relativity Records

This album changed my life. No joke. The first time I heard it in full, it absolutely blew me away, specially within the sub genre of technically progressive metal, an area I wasn’t fully versed in yet at the time. Of course I had heard Scream Bloody Gore, Leprosy and Spiritual Healing prior to this, so I was extremely familiar with Death and the insanely monstrous reputation Chuck & company had built up until the release of this album.

Let’s address the absolutely disgusting lineup Chuck had assembled at this time. Everyone knows it well, it’s undeniable and is still, to this day, literally one of the best lineups ever assembled in metal history. The atomic clock machine Gene Hoglan, fretless bass master Steve DiGiorgio and, specifically for this album, the versatile wizard of riffs from King Diamond nonetheless, Andy LaRocque. If that isn’t a murderers row of metal assassins, I don’t know what is. Throw Chuck in the mix and you have one of the best technical death metal albums ever recorded.

The composition of these songs are truly something to behold. Everything fits perfectly. The guitar tone, flawless fretless bass work, drum sound and Chuck’s signature shrieks and growls complement each other very well while not drowning each other out. I honestly don’t know how they did it, to be honest. Everything leading up to Individual Thought Patterns was a culmination of amazing death metal that slowly introduced serious technical aspects, in which this lineup basically perfected.

The atmosphere and sonic delivery this album exudes truly sounds unlike any other technical death metal album. On top of the controlled madness that is Chuck’s ripping solos, Andy LaRocque holds his own by trading off some of his best solos ever and that includes his work in King Diamond, which is saying quite a lot.

“Overactive Imagination” is a perfect example. The timing, placement and absolute ripping nature of the solos within this song are nothing short of perfection. Chuck’s ability to write, compose and surgically execute solos on this album is a flat out masterwork, without question. I could go on for days about the solos, they’re that technically good, but the real meat and potatoes of this album are the superb lyrics that strike a nerve with each individual listen.

“Trapped in a Corner” is about people who put on fake personas in the world in order to achieve their goals, something many people have done through history and still do today. Chuck was very precise with his words, as always, but he said it best when he opened this song with, “I want to watch you drown in your lies. The end of your masquerade. A matter of time, intertwining lies.” Strong disdain for the posers of the world, something even Baloff could appreciate.

Every song has its own charm, brutality, complex time structures that come out of nowhere and face melting riffs that could make even the biggest technical death metal hater blush. Speaking of, this album does however have its fair share of haters for some reason. Some believe this is where Death became too pretentious, technically speaking, and kinda jumped the shark as the saying goes. Oh well, to each is own. Opinions are everywhere.

At the end of the day, Individual Thought Patterns delivers the goods on every level conceivable. Technical death metal or not, this album stands tall and strong amongst its metal peers and actually surpasses other well known tech death albums that some might hold in a higher regard. Chuck, Steve, Andy and Gene collectively created an absolute masterpiece with their immense talents in 1993 that produced forty solid minutes of legendary metal. Whatever your opinion on Death may be, wether it’s “overrated hacks” or “brilliant genius”, anyone who enjoys in-your-face brutal aggressiveness backed up by skull crushing solos and riffs will most definitely appreciate Individual Thought Patterns.

Death may not be everyone’s “cup of tea” when it comes to technical death metal, but one goddamn thing is for sure, you can’t dismiss Chuck Schuldiner’s influence upon the genre. His presence on earth, as unfortunately cut short as it was, changed the metal game forever, without question.

Individual Thought Patterns is Death’s best album, no questions asked. This collection of songs truly showcased the brilliantly technical aspect the band was striving to achieve at the time, in which they did in absolute spades. Easily my favorite tech death metal album ever and one of my favorite albums in general, across all types of other music. I honestly can’t speak highly enough about this absolute masterwork of technical death metal. 100/100.

Highlights: The entire album.

RIP Chuck. You were the man.