[Here are my liner notes to the deluxe 2 and 3 CD Relapse Records reissue of Death’s Individual Thought Patterns. They were originally penned in 2011. Most recently ITP was reissued by Relapse as a limited 25th anniversary edition on silver colored double vinyl. As some of you folks may not have picked up the CDs, I’m posting the complete text here to help keep the music and memory of the late/great Chuck Schuldiner alive.]

Death – Individual Thought

Liner Notes
By Perry Grayson
© Copyright 2011 by Perry Grayson
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Death’s 1991 LP Human
was a progressive/aggressive metal opus, but on 1993’s Individual Thought Patterns Chuck Schuldiner took his sonic
experimentation further. For Human Chuck
borrowed guitarist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert from the underground’s
most touted technical metal band, Cynic, along with Sadus bassmeister Steve
DiGiorgio. Chuck’s desire to improve led him to some highly respected pro talents
for Individual: ex-Dark Angel
skinsman Gene Hoglan and tasteful King Diamond lead axeman Andy LaRocque. He
also re-hired 4-string Hippie of Doom Steve DiGiorgio at the last minute.
Says Steve: “I remember trying to paint a house
in Oakland in
the freezing cold between Christmas 1992 and New Year’s, just realizing what a
futile job I was doing because you’re not supposed to apply paint below 55
degrees. It was so frustrating. Then I got a message to call somebody named
Scott from Florida.
There’s only one guy I know named Scott in Florida, and that’s Burns. He goes, ‘Hey
man, we’re in a bind. We’re getting ready to record and we’re in need of your
service. Can you come out? The sooner you get here, the better. We have the
studio booked first week of January.’”

“I was like ‘Holy crap! Yeah, thanks!’ After I
put the phone down I put my frozen paintbrush in the can, just thinking ‘Ha!
I’m gonna be in Florida
tomorrow.’ I remember me and Gene sitting in Chuck’s living room for New Year’s
’92 turning into ’93, and I did work on the stuff for a little while. We practiced
in Chuck’s mom’s garage, but they
were already rehearsed and had all the songs arranged. We ran through them and
I learned as much as I could in a couple of days. We packed up and drove to Tampa and started recording
right away.”
Speaking of his new comrades, Chuck told Metal Hammer, “Very gifted musicians but perfectly fitting in the musical
concept of Death… They had to play songs I wrote but in their own way brought
in something personal that made the whole more valuable.” Of that quartet, only
LaRocque couldn’t stick around post tracking.
“I wanted everything about the album to be
top-notch…I grew up listening to a lot of bands that had a twin axe-attack,
and I think it’s somewhat important to have if you really want to be heavy. I t
adds variety to the music…just knowing that I was working with such a
talented shredder like Andy really made me work hard. I just needed him to do
leads on four songs, and have him double a few of my rhythm tracks.” Chuck told
Watt Magazine, “I hope ITP
lifts metal as an art form to a higher level. The album proves you can, without
tuning your guitars extra low, sound heavy and melodic at the same time. I dare
take chances as a songwriter. I don’t set myself any boundaries. I leave the
known roads. Progression is what keeps music exciting.” As far as Chuck was
concerned, progression included the acoustic guitar/synth intro to “Destiny.”
Not necessarily softening up, but applying dynamics so the main parts of the
song came across heavier.
itp+chuck+pic Death - INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS 25th Anniversary Liner Notes | Cirith Ungol Online
Some seem to have noticed the accessibility
Chuck’s music had achieved. Clear production values and plenty of memorable
melodies intertwined with diligent technicality on ITP. “The Philosopher,” which became another crowd pleaser in the
same way “Pull the Plug” and “Lack of Comprehension” had, was chosen to be
Death’s second music video. The clip got a tongue lashing from the teenage
twerp characters when it aired on MTV’s goofball animated series Beavis & Butthead. Nonetheless, it was airplay. “People come up to me and
say, ‘hey, I just saw you on Beavis &
,’” Chuck told Ill
“’it was so cool!’ so, in a way, it just exposed more metal
fans to Death’s music.”

One of the major elements of Individual’s improvement was the mix.
This was no …And Justice for All.  You could hear DiGiorgio’s fretless bass loud
and clear from the first notes of “Overactive Imagination.” Chuck’s rhythm
guitar sound, unlike the bottom-heavy Human
tone, boasted plenty of mids. “Jamming with Paul and Sean from Cynic, it was
all about details. We practiced for a good 3 weeks at least,” Steve reminisced.
“They even knew what to call all these little things they were doing, super
scientific, but I wasn’t present during the Human
mixdown. It was obvious. I was the only one you couldn’t really hear. When
Chuck and Scott Burns called me back for ITP,
Scott realized he didn’t intend to bury the bass. They intentionally made sure
not to let it go, like ‘we’re gonna make sure to fix you up this time.’ We got
a good tone because it wasn’t going to be washed beneath anything. It was a new
fretless bass for me, just built. It had a really cool, raw sound. It didn’t
sound like anything other than a string going through a pickup, a super in-your-face
kind of tone, so different for the early ‘90s. In Florida you’ve got all the creatures, and
the bass sounded like a frog. That’s why Chuck called it ‘The Frog,’ and we even
put it in my thanks list, the nickname of my bass.”
More comic relief in the original ITP liners comes courtesy of perved-out
Gene Hoglan’s thanking the “Rectal Digger.” “Chuck’s girlfriend worked at a
group home [for the mentally ill]. Gene was fascinated by it, especially
because of the type of people that she and Chuck were. The way they told these
stories and reacted to other people doing things enthralled him too. If I told
you the same story, you’d just go, ‘gross.’ But she was so mortified that Gene
got a little kick out of the whole process. It was no big deal. We were in our mid
20s, so it’s easier to laugh at now when you’re in your 40s and raising kids. You
go, ‘Oh, that’s not so cool.’ And then you secretly laugh, ‘Oh my god!’

As on Human,
many of Chuck’s lyrics for ITP were
inspired by the hardships he’d endured in the music biz. Chuck’s love for the
simple things in life as opposed to lame “business” was explained further to Watt. “I keep watchful though, not
getting ripped off again. The big shots in their ivory towers steal every last
dime out of bands’pockets. I don’t understand why. Don’t they have anything
else to do? It sounds extreme, I know, but I don’t misuse my power. I don’t
make up stories. What I tell in my lyrics is my personal opinion about people
I’ve had to do business with. I can assure you, for that matter, every band can
tell you the same. I often long for the times when I recorded demos and played
in little clubs. We did it all back then. Nobody restricted us. But when you
release one album all of a sudden your life changes. Businessmen decide about
your future, and they expect you to be a rock star 24 hours a day. Horrible. I
love to keep as far away from that circus as possible and I believe in my life
at home: movies, taking a walk, swimming and hanging in the marina.”

Chuck and Co. covered the Kiss classic “God of
Thunder” as bonus material during the Human
sessions, and with some spare time in tracking drums and bass for ITP, they attempted the Possessed tune
“Exorcist.” “I hope they don’t put that out!,” Steve DiGiorgio joked. “We
didn’t even finish it. 100% sure there’s no vocals on it. Back then you pretty
much recorded live. We did for Human
when I played with Sean Reinert and then ITP
with Gene. The drums, our amps, everything. We’d keep the drum take, and in my
case the bass and I’d fix spots. Chuck played a guide track. We all stood there
in a live setting and pushed record. I never learned all the riffs. That’s the
one thing that sticks out in my brain. We realized we didn’t know it all the
way. We went in the back room to go over the riffs and it seemed like Gene knew
it better than Chuck on guitar. So, it got pushed further back under the table,
‘We’ll get back to that later, maybe.’
Here’s Gene, a killer drummer, but he picked up the guitar and was showing
Chuck stuff.”
Finally, Chuck and Death were able to tour
properly, even if they needed to fill LaRoque’s shoes. “Andy was literally in
and out in a few days,” DiGiorgio remembered. “Chuck offered Andy the slot in
the live band, but he was too busy.” When journo Borivoj Krgin asked if any nonsense
that had happened between Death and Gene’s old band, Dark Angel, was water
under the bridge, Chuck replied, “Oh, definitely, yeah… It’s really cool,
because I’ve always known about Gene since the early days of the underground.
When we used to correspond and talk to the same people, and we were all in the
same circle.” DiGiorgio recorded on Human,
but was unable to tour due to commitments to main band Sadus, but this time, he
was aboard for Death’s treks across America
and Europe. In the second guitar slot, Ralph
Santolla from Florida-based Eyewitness went along for the brief Euro festival tour
that occurred prior to ITP’s release
and the following U.S.
tour with Canadian thrashers Sacrifice.
Shredder Santolla had some activity with his
own band and was replaced by Bay Area thrasher Craig Locicero from Forbidden
for the headlining Euro tour Death embarked on with Anacrusis. “I don’t know if
I suggested Craig or not,” Steve said. “Chuck had played some shows with
Forbidden and already knew about him. Between us we agreed that Craig was a
cool enough guy and musician to come along. I definitely knew him from
Forbidden and Sadus playing the Bay Area. We changed up for that tour. Because Chuck
hired two Bay Area guys and an L.A. drummer, instead
of convening in Chuck’s home base, Orlando,
he actually came out and stayed with me for a week for tour rehearsals. We
rented an Oakland
room and Craig caught up on all the riffs. It was cool for Chuck to get out to
the Bay Area again. He was already on the road before we flew over to Europe. Craig kicked ass. He had killer stage presence
and turned out to be a much better guitarist than I knew. Whoever stood on
Chuck’s left had to be like the Alex Skolnick, the lead guy. Even though Chuck soloed in every song, he wanted the
other guitarist to be like the soloist.
It was cool to see Craig tear it up because he’s more of a team player in
Forbidden. I looked at him differently after that. Now we’ve had that tour
between us and we’ve always been close since.” While Locicero was with Death,
they were known to whip out a cover of “Black Magic,” by Chuck’s heroes, Slayer,
as a surprise for fans.
DiGiorgio spoke of the European Death fans’ devotion when he recalled a gig in Florence, Italy.
“That loyalty can go the other way as well. That was the show that Anacrusis
came off the stage just covered in loogies. They
just got spit on!
Chuck was so worried. He was like ‘I’m not playing.’ And
we were like ‘Dammit, this sucks.’ It was my first time in Italy, and that’s
where my family’s from. I was looking forward to the homeland and all that. I’m
like, ‘Fuck, I can’t believe it. We’re here, we’re ready, and we’re gonna
cancel. No way.’ But then, right as we were about to have that final doubt, the
whole crowd just went ‘DEATH! DEATH! DEATH!’ So, we’re like ‘Let’s just get go
up there.’ Chuck said, ‘Hey, first time we get spit on, I’m done.’ Me and Gene
go, ‘Well, at least he’s trying. Let’s do it.’ They loved us. Not a single
thing came on that stage. It didn’t have anything to do with whether they
thought Anacrusis was good or bad. They were just there to see Death, and that was there way of showing their support.”
1993 was also the year Chuck voiced his
intentions to find in a proper singer with range—beyond Death. “In the future I
plan to do a more melodic, straightforward heavy metal side project with a
singer in the Rob Halford style.” In an interviewed with Borivoj Krgin, Chuck
further explained, “I’d love to get a great singer, like Christian Augustin,
formerly of Sortilège and do something really different. I really have that
creative urge inside me, and definitely one day I’ll do it.” Chuck was a man of
his word, even though it would take a few years to undertake Control Denied. There
were still Death albums to concentrate on.
Penning these liners has been a treat,
considering how huge a Death and Control Denied fan I am. Things have turned
full-circle. While I was finishing my article “Precious Memories of Chuck
Schuldiner” for Metal Maniacs in 2001
I interviewed Chuck’s former manager, Eric Greif. Chuck and Eric had their ups
and downs over the years, but Eric told me the positive reminiscences I
included in my article helped mend his relationship with the Schuldiners. A
decade later, Eric has a new role as legal rep for Chuck’s intellectual
property. He found me on the net, and his plans for a line of deluxe Death and
Control Denied reissues blew my mind.
was a very pivotal album for me, personally.
Truthfully, it pumped me up about metal like only a new Death LP could. I was
just an aspiring guitarist and writer fresh out of high school when ITP was released. Steve DiGiorgio mused,
“I think at that age we were let down
by most of the bands we liked. Priest’s Turbo
and Maiden’s Seventh Son, like
‘What’s happening to our bands?’ At
least when you graduated you had cool
albums with Gene Hoglan and Andy LaRocque.” ITP
was the only Death tour I missed between Human
and The Sound of Perseverance. I was
extremely bummed that I couldn’t attend the gig, especially considering Sacrifice
were supporting. Bored with death metal stagnation in ’94, my attention was on
prog metal merchants like Savatage, Fates Warning, Queensryche and Watchtower.
Clearly Chuck, a die-hard music fan and vinyl collector at heart, shared a love
for traditional and melodic metal bands and wasn’t afraid to allow those classic
influences to bloom. Chuck explored new realms with a keen grasp on metal triumphs
of the past, where others were mired in mediocrity.
itp+inside+pic Death - INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS 25th Anniversary Liner Notes | Cirith Ungol Online
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