This along with Leprosy is my favorite Death album. While those two albums are as different from each other as one can imagine, they represent a band that was always transforming and moving ahead.
What ‘Individual Thought Patterns’ represents is a success on the part of Chuck Schuldiner’s song writing. He was now a seasoned musician. Whereas in the Leprosy era (‘88) he had grand visions but couldn’t actualize them, during this era he had finally penned his song writing skills. This album also brings together a band of ecclectic musicians, Andy La Rocque (of King Diamond fame) and Gean Hoglan (of various L.A. Thrash bands no one will remember except for Dark Angel) and Steve Digiorgio (ex-Sadus, Autopsy).
The guitars are good, at first they sound kinda weird together (La Rocque’s ‘neoclassical’ style is a little bit of an acquired taste). But the riffs are as endless as they are interesting. The drum work is pretty good for Gene Hoglan, the Dark Angel drummer who I thought was highly overrated back in the day (‘86) -from a drummers prospective of course. It is in fact I believe Hoglan’s best drumming performance. The fills are interesting, the tom-rolls always different, the double-bass quads and triplets, the ride 2/3-4/6 beats, and the disappearing/reappearing crashes. Steve Digiorgio uses his bass to hold the beat and then some! He uses his bass like a bass and a guitar at the same time always playing on time or just slightly slower to give the music a kind of inverted feel. This is probably DiGiorgio’s best work (unless you’ve seen him play live.) But then again, that’s probably debateable. The bass is my favorite instrument on the album.
As previous reviewers have alluded to, they compare this to death/jazz or simply to Jazz song writing. I find this labeling somewhat erroneous since what these musicians had in mind wasn’t something as technical as Tony Williams or Jaco Pastorius. What they were trying to do here is have a song that consisting in intro-verse-chorus-break-verse-chorus-end/outro in diverse time formats. Other bands that used this format were Atheist and Cynic (but also Thrash bands like Anacrusis). I concur with other reviewers though…THIS IS THINKING MAN’S DEATH METAL! (R.I.P. Chuck)