Individual Thought Patterns (Reissue)

Written by: EW on 10/03/2012 17:13:47

You do not need to be a frequent visitor to this site to realise I do love myself a bit of Death, the legendary metal band for whom seven albums was simply not enough before the tragic passing of mastermind Chuck Schuldiner in 2001. Such a legacy does not fade fast though and here we are with reissue three of the back-catalogue after reviews last year of "The Sound of Perseverance" and "Human". Now reviewing 1993's "Individual Thought Patterns" much of the past two reviews can be transposed here - lots about how Schuldiner & co (and it was really was a mighty 'co' on ITP with a dream line-up of Andy LaRocque, Steve DiGiorgio and Gene Hoglan in tow) were so far ahead of the time, that the individual performances in bringing to life these rhythmically complex songs are to this day second to none and that if passion was your aim in extreme metal this band is bullseye.

Opener "Overactive Imagination" continues along the same mindframe that persisted through Death's 15-year career: why settle for second best? Though never aiming to break speed records, it begins in a fast, staccato manner in the verse before increasing into 5th gear for the chorus, with Hoglan's drumming in particular being the veritable punch in face we all like our death metal drumming to be, but here with the added bonus of not sounding like an overly-triggered machine. Oh the pleasure. "In Human Form" and "Jealousy" are a bit more considered in their approach, built upon Schuldiner's inimitable guitar abilities and tone. Throughout he mixes the kind of complex lead riffs and metronomically tight rhythms abridged perfectly by subtle changes in pace and direction that have inspired the likes of Obscura and a thousand others since to realise there is more to metal than simply being the 'heaviest' or fastest out there in return for a lack of control.

"Trapped in a Corner" is a stand-out, introduced by the kind of riff that typified Death even back to "Zombie Ritual" on their "Scream Bloody Gore" debut LP and the following 4 minutes of avoid the genre cliches and concoct a palette of variation beyond all but a few. In the album's latter half the ante is upped with the title track and closing classic "The Philosopher", whose flowing bass lines and near-psychedelic solos are as deep and meaningful as the intelligent and socially-aware lyrics throughout.

Being a reissue a bonus disc is of course on offer and this time it is a performance from Germany in 1993, with a setlist pulling tracks from every album released to date. Being that Schuldiner passed away before I saw Death live I can only relate to these from a historic perspective but the feeling is this was Death at their peak and is a recording to be cherished for those lucky enough to have been there.

Favourite Death albums vary from fan to fan - for this writer "Individual Thought Patterns" has only ever been a third or fourth favourite but let this be recognised as a nod to the quality of the back-catalogue. There is no doubt the average quality of death metal releases has plummeted in recent years as young bands rely far too much on studio technology than real writing chops. If ever there is was a band every death metal act should know inside out it is the peerless Death and this is a reissue shows why.

Download: The Philosoper, Overactive Imagination, Trapped In A Corner
For The Fans Of: Morbid Angel, Obscura
Listen: Myspace

Release date 25.10.2011 (Originally 22.06.1993)
Relapse Records

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