Released: 2011, Relapse Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Death is/was/always will be my favorite death metal band of all time, no doubt about it. The body of work that Chuck Schuldiner left us is still some of the most captivating and challenging extreme music that’s ever been captured on record. Relapse Records apparently realizes this as well, as they’ve wasted no time in releasing some phenomenal reissues of the Death studio catalog this year. The most recent of which is a 3-disc special edition of 1993’s INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS; an album that for many was their introduction to the band, but also one that’s often overshadowed by its predecessor, HUMAN and successor, SYMBOLIC. Much respect to the team at Relapse overseeing these reissues, as they’ve been nothing short of excellent, and this new entry is no exception. In addition to a remastered version of the original album (once again helmed by Adam Douches), there’s a live set from Germany in ’93, as well as a full disc of demos and outtakes from ’92. Still considering whether you need this in one in your collection? Well, read on…
Let’s talk the remaster of the original 10 tracks. This…sounds…phenomenal. I remember purchasing this album the weekend it came out, both on CD and cassette (so I could keep a copy at home and one in the car) and I’ve listened to this album more times than I can remember since then. But it’s never sounded as good as it does here. The DiGiorgio/Hoglan rhythm section are much more prominent in the mix now, giving the album an entirely new dimension of heavy – one that I didn’t realize it was lacking until hearing it now. The rhythm guitars feel louder as well, and collectively these little touches do wonders to fill out the sound across the album. As for the songs themselves – “Overactive Imagination,” “Trapped in a Corner,” “In Human Form,” and of course, “The Philosopher” - all great tunes. Where HUMAN showed the band stepping into more complex and progressive territories, INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS put more focus on melody, and that’s a constant thread throughout the album. And did I mention that Andy LaRocque guested as lead guitarist on the album? As the story goes, King Diamond’s six-string sidekick was on Chuck’s wish list to perform lead duties on the album, and Andy was surprisingly up for the challenge. Andy only contributed solos to a few tracks on the album, but the tradeoffs between the Chuck and himself are reason enough to check out this album.
The live set from ’93 is also impressive, covering tracks from each album up to that point. Given the passage of time, it’s easy to forget just how powerful Chuck and company were on stage, but the performance captured here brings it all back. Chuck still had his guttural vocals and the band was lockstep tight. It’s also easy to forget just how mild mannered and easy going Chuck was in everyday life. His between song banter with crowd is that of a soft spoken, articulate young man who just wanted to play music. His introduction to “Living Monstrosity” is priceless. As if providing an after school public service announcement, Chuck speaks to the crowd that “this song is about cocaine addiction in pregnant women,” and then the band proceeds to tear into this relentlessly heavy tune. Rounding out the 2nd disc is a cover the Possessed classic “The Exorcist,” which I’d never heard before its inclusion here. The disc of outtakes and demos once again provides a fly on the wall view of what the pre-production sessions were like leading up to the recording of the album, and shows the genesis of where and how these tunes originated.
A one of a kind musician and human being, Chuck Schuldiner’s influence on heavy music is immeasurable, INDVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS was an exceptional release 18 years ago, and Relapse Records has made it even more exceptional. From now on, any band/label thinking of reissuing any material should just sign the deal over to Relapse, because it doesn’t get much better than this.