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Abnormal Thought Patterns - "Altered States of Consciousness" (CD)

Abnormal Thought Patterns - "Altered States of Consciousness" CD cover image

"Altered States of Consciousness" track listing:

1. Distortions of Perception
2. Nocturnal Haven
3. Blindsight
4. Synesthesia
5. Delusions
6. Nocturnal Haven
7. Subliminal Perception

Reviewed by on June 9, 2015

"Showing off what can be done through strings and skins alone, this U.S. act is the cream of the crop in instrumental metal..."

For those familiar with Cynthesis or Zero Hour, anything from Abnormal Thought Patterns will easily be must-hear material. Showing off what can be done through strings and skins alone (with one notable exception – see below), this U.S. act is the cream of the crop in instrumental metal, ditching vocals and instead going on a melodic journey across every last note the guitar and bass have to offer.

Focusing on the more showy aspects (“technical wankery” would be the typical description), opening 4 ½ minute song “Distortions of Perception” might at first have a listener worrying the band can't pull off the coming 9 and 10 minute tracks without getting repetitive, but as it turns out that's an entirely unfounded fear. Halfway through, the track switches gears into moody and melodic territory, showcasing a range of emotions to be found just in the exchange of guitar and bass. The next track, “Nocturnal Haven,” is also going to throw fans for a serious loop as unexpected vocals – both harsh and clean – pop up out of nowhere.

Going through a variety of distinct transitions and with a progressive attitude, “Nocturnal Haven” sounds like a heavier version of a Thomas Giles track, which probably shouldn't be surprising considering the vocals are provided by none other than thee Between The Buried And Me front man himself. For those who can't wrap their heads around an Abnormal Thought Patterns song with screams and singing, an even longer instrumental-only version of the song is included later on. While the vocal version is stellar, it's clear the band worked very hard to make the 10 minute instrumental version interesting the whole way through, and neither one distinctly wins over the other.

There are a couple of instances where Abnormal Thought Patterns fans will hear very similar ideas to what was presented on previous releases, as technical / instrumental metal does tend to rely on some specific scales and chords as a default, but overall “Altered States of Consciousness” is a thoroughly entertaining and unique experience. “Synesthesia” in particular (taking a cue from its namesake) tries to make the audience feel the sound rather than just hear it through swirling, fast paced guitar chords followed by ultra-low, rumbling bass and guitar lines. This way of thinking outside the box, coupled with the solid mixing of both melodic and technical metal styles, makes entering an altered state of consciousness a very attractive proposition indeed.

Highs: Masters of the guitar and bass offer up top-notch instru-metal that never gets boring.

Lows: A handful of the chords will be overly familiar for instrumental metal fans, and some may not care for the vocal delivery on one track breaking the instrumental code.

Bottom line: This instru-metal masterpiece will easily alter your state of consciousness!

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)