Death - Symbolic
Roadrunner Records
Death Metal
9 songs (50:38)
Release year: 1998
Death, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Thomas

Many a fan holds Death as pure perfection. The perfect death metal band, with the perfect singer, songwriter and guitarist. Even though he isn’t with us anymore, his legacy lives on through the seven magnificent records he created with Death. Chuck Schuldiner was always heading down the path of experimentation and change, and with Symbolic he hit the nail on the head. This marked a distinct change in Death’s sound and style, and while most bands completely fall through while doing just that, Death impressed the listeners and fans with the quality, excitement, emotions and the sense of not being attached to any rules. Chuck did what he wanted to, and always succeeded with his efforts on developing the band into the direction he wanted them to go in. Symbolic is by many considered the pinnacle of Death’s career, a perfect balance between the past and the present, death metal and their ingenious display of technicality and skill as well as the fantastic songwriting.

Death was an unpredictable band. You never knew what to expect around the corner as their songs shifted with the speed of sound. When you thought they couldn’t squeeze in anymore creative twists and turns, they’d do just that. The title-track and album-kicker Symbolic is just the perfect example on what Death became during their last active years. After a slow and crushing intro, it suddenly explodes into a thrashy riff that’ll throw you through the nearest wall. The hyper-fast drumming hurls into a huge hurricane with polyrhythmic beats and incredibly tight playing. If you’re having problems with the overly energetic and sometimes a little off drums on The Sound of Preservance, then this should be bulls-eye for you. Gene Hoglan is maybe not as wild as Richard Christy, but levels above in terms of playing and keeping it tight through incredibly speedy and tricky passages. Blasting through the gates is also Kelly Conlon, who keeps a steady and lively pace with the bass, as he follows every move Gene Hoglan makes. Then, after the six-minute stunning opener has lit the fire, the oddly structured and maybe the most advanced song on here Zero Tolerance drenches everything with gasoline and fulfils the inferno you’re about to experience.

Chuck Schuldiner, the mastermind of Death, has completely let go of any hint that resembles his earlier pure death metal vocal style. Instead, he’s aiming to rip your skin of your limbs with his razor-sharp screams. Actually, his voice could’ve done just as good of a job in any thrash band. However, this is not the case, and I’m glad it isn’t. Because nothing fits Chuck’s riffs like Chuck’s screams. His tortured soars accompanies the completely mind-boggling riffs and stunning guitar-solos of his. With a sense of melody few, if any other death metal band can claim to possess, and a gift of songwriting that is beyond this world, Symbolic along with The Sound of Preservandce makes for one of the most complete death metal albums I have ever heard. Death climbed a mountain with this release, and they stated an example of what was to come with their last and maybe most complex album to date The Sound of Presevance.

A symphony of fiery death ensembles when every member adds their own spark with every note hit, every cymbal crashed and every scream screamed. It’s hard to describe with words what you’ll get with this release. This will enslave your mind and ears as the nearly orchestral guitars and the majestic atmosphere builds into a staggering climax with every song. In short, this is a classic death metal album that will undoubtedly blow you away. I guarantee that you haven’t heard anything like this brilliant slab of neck-snapping music before, and seeking more philosophical views in the lyrics to fit the more progressive route the band took, Chuck managed to engage, and not just throw around the gore like it was candy as he did on the previous, and in particular the early albums.

As I sit here listening to the silently comforting and beautiful outro of the finisher Perennial Quest, the perfection of this extraordinary release strikes me. This is metal forged into something perfect. The secret? Chuck took it with him to the stars.

Killing Songs :
Symbolic, Zero Tolerance, Empty Words, Sacred Serenity, 1,000 Eyes, Wihtout Judgement, Crystal Mountain, Misanthrope, Perennial Quest
Thomas quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Death that we have reviewed:
Death - Scream Bloody Gore reviewed by Crims and quoted 82 / 100
Death - Individual Thought Patterns reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 95 / 100
Death - Live In Eindhoven '98 (DVD) reviewed by Ger and quoted no quote
Death - Human reviewed by Jeff and quoted CLASSIC
Death - The Sound Of Perseverance reviewed by Ger and quoted 97 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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