WHO: Death himself. Fronted by Chuck Schuldiner, the man often cited as being the father of death metal, this dream-team incarnation of Death also consisted of Steve DiGiorgio on bass, Andy LaRocque on guitar, and Gene Hoglan on drums. For those unfamiliar with the band, Chuck passed away in 2001 after a battle with brain cancer.
WHEN: Originally released by Combat Records in 1993, Individual Thought Patterns is a landmark in death metal history. The album has also recently been re-released in a three CD deluxe addition featuring a live set from Germany (in 1993) and a full album of demo tracks.
WHERE: Hailing from Florida, this album was recorded with Scott Burns at Morrisound Recording Studios. The production carries his signature, as well as showcases Death’s roots in Floridian death metal.
WHY its a classic: Death’s 1987 Scream Bloody Gore is often heralded as being the first true death metal album; six years later Schuldiner had forsaken guts and zombies for the more psychological evils of common men around him. This mental scythe is quintessential technical/progressive death because of its pioneering presence of jazz influence, virtuoso guitar work, mind melting melodies, and rubbery yet complex bass. Fans of more straight forward death metal may be disappointed by the lack of simple headbanging hooks, but an aficionado of the more complicated points of metal will no doubt be impressed. The bass guitar is particularly noteworthy, moving from its typical role of simply adding extra heft to the hammer, and instead strutting its own melodies and intricacies at the same level (if not more so) than the guitars on the numerous occasions when bassist Steve DiGiorgio moves to the forefront of the music.
HOW: Schuldiner’s vocals are standard progressive death metal style, registering higher on the scale than the low growls of, say, Incantation, but he prefers to let the band’s strings of the talking. The interweaving and recurring atonal melodies on tracks like “In Human Form” and “Nothing is Everything” worm their way into the brain and take hold like a neurotic disorder, while the classical and jazz influences are abundant on “Legacy.” The bass edges itself in like a third guitar, especially on the quintessential closer “The Philosopher.” A brief, atmospheric keyboard in the background in “Mentally Blind” makes the listener feel like a sightless lunatic stumbling in a straight-jacket in a padded room. This release will appeal especially to fans of more recent techdeath that lean on their progressive roots, such as bands like Obscura or Anomalous, and is absolutely essential for anyone who enjoys when the bass guitar breaks out of its normally overshadowed confines.
Information found at the official Chuck Schuldiner website, emptywords.org.