Rating:
9.7
Death - Symbolic
21 March 1995


01. Symbolic
02. Zero Tolerance
03. Empty Words
04. Sacred Serenity
05. 1,000 Eyes
06. Without Judgement
07. Crystal Mountain
08. Misanthrope
09. Perennial Quest
10. Symbolic Acts [instrumental demo version]
11. Zero Tolerance [instrumental version]
12. Crystal Mountain [instrumental version]
13. Misanthrope [instrumental version]
14. Symbolic Acts [demo]


1995 was very generous to the metal world with its great releases. One of them was Death's 6th studio album called Symbolic, a true masterpiece and a classic without a doubt. Everything about this music piece impresses to the very marrow of the bones: the riffs, the leads, the bass, the drums, the lyrics and the vocals. The album is even more versatile and progressive than the previous two, with most songs running for over 5 minutes.

A distinctive feature of Death's music in the 90's was frequent tempo and melody changes and going more technical and progressive. On Symbolic the band continues producing the customary sound of Individual Thought Patterns and Human and reaches the peak of musical virtuosity resulting in an album of rare sound and quality. The presence of melodious interludes on such songs as Sacred Serenity, Without Judgment and the fast-paced Misanthrope can't leave one indifferent. The intro to Empty words echoes with the one to Destiny on the previous release while the postlude and the truly progressive solo on Perennial Quest show how diverse and unpredictable Death can be.

Let me stop on the solos for a little. When listening to Symbolic you hear the solos in every song - solos so creative that they just make me take my guitar and try to emulate them, which is next to impossible. Every solo played by Chuck and Bobby Koelble on the album contains some slow, melodic parts that are skillfully interwoven with lightning-fast shredding creating the signature Schuldiner style. Some of the greatest ones can be heard in Zero Tolerance and Crystal Mountain, but overall every solo on the record is smartly composed and matchlessly played.

The lyrics are a perfect reflection of the album title. Most songs' titles on the CD give you the idea what they are about, but the way the words are spoken in those songs make a listener speculate on the hidden meanings of the texts. The drums and the bass work perfectly together with the guitars emphasizing the sound, but never being excessive. Gene Hoglan plays the hell out of his double bass and snare on the songs like Symbolic, Without Judgment, and Misanthrope. Gene and Kelly also play a nice intro to Sacred Serenity.

Symbolic is 50 minutes of pure metal (whether it's progressive thrash or death, it doesn't matter) that never gets boring due to the genius of Chuck Schuldiner. It's Death's Opus Magnum, which deserves all the eulogy that there is.

Performance: 10
Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Production: 9


Band profile: Death
Album: Symbolic


 


written by K†ulu | 26.06.2008


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Guest review by
Yanko

Rating:
9.0
So, after probably the worst album in Death's career, they have taken enough time off (two years) before releasing this one. And it is a very rapid change from the previous one, leaving many of the fans really puzzled.

Chuck has once more changed his vocals to more screaming and thus getting them to what they will sound three years later at a steady and slow pace. His singing isn't very convincing and could be easily be labeled as rather ordinary thrash singing, because of his voice lacking the personal touch of the man performing them.

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published 15.09.2003 | Comments (33)



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Katatronik - 26.06.2008 at 22:02  
Simply a masterpiece, no other words... Chuck in our hearts! RIP
Good review dude!
totaliteraliter - 26.06.2008 at 23:52  
Personally I like the chorus riff on "Empty Words", and the songs are generally crafted pretty competently, but overall it's a fairly bad album. "Most songs' titles on the CD give you the idea what they are about, but the way the words are spoken in those songs make a listener speculate on the hidden meanings of the texts."... I don't know about that, most of the lyrics are pretty obvious, pedestrian and/or safe. Like "1,000 Eyes" or "Crystal Mountain", some unambitious observations coupled with thin to nonexistent metaphors. I wouldn't quite call this unlistenable, but it's definitely symbolic (lol) of Chuck's artistic decline at this stage of his career.
BitterCOld - 27.06.2008 at 00:09  
nice review of a great album. i'm not a chuck-worshipper, but i do enjoy death... and this is by far my favorite album of their's.

it's on my 'metal top 10' list.

well done.
Stalker - 27.06.2008 at 01:23  
Wow, So this is the remastered version then. Cool, gotta find it somewhere...
K†ulu - 27.06.2008 at 14:04  
thanx people. it's my first review and indeed 'Chuck in our hearts.' No one else's music is just so "sick."
ponderer - 28.06.2008 at 20:48  
Fantastic words. When I discovered Death, Chuck had already passed away which brought me to tears. I immediately went out and bought every Death cd and they are most sacred. This is easily my favorite of the lot, but Spiritual Healing isn't far behind.

Excellent review!
K†ulu - 29.06.2008 at 09:36  
Written by ponderer on 28.06.2008 at 20:48

Fantastic words.

what words? didn't get it...
Written by ponderer on 28.06.2008 at 20:48

Excellent review!

thanx man
Passenger - 29.06.2008 at 14:14  
Great review of a great album.
Elio - 29.06.2008 at 15:30  
the masterpiece...death's best album...and a great review!! yeah man, dont' try to emulate the solos
K†ulu - 29.06.2008 at 16:01  
thanx. i know. but maybe some day i'll reach the level to play them. Chuck said when he started the band back in 1983 he couldn't even play a lead. That's kinda what I started with. So who knows... having faith and really practicing a lot can move you far in your guitar skills.
K†ulu - 29.06.2008 at 16:18  
Written by totaliteraliter on 26.06.2008 at 23:52

I don't know about that, most of the lyrics are pretty obvious, pedestrian and/or safe. Like "1,000 Eyes" or "Crystal Mountain", some unambitious observations coupled with thin to nonexistent metaphors. I wouldn't quite call this unlistenable, but it's definitely symbolic (lol) of Chuck's artistic decline at this stage of his career.

I don't know about you, but songs like "Symbolic" or "Sacred Serenity" are pretty ambiguous. I am really not sure what they are about.
Hamird - 29.06.2008 at 22:02  
This album was one the first Death Metal albums that i've listened to. one of my friends who was a total death fan introduced me this album, and also gave me the lyrics, I think the most important point of this album is the lyrics. I worship Chuck Schuldiner's power to write lyrics, even more than his talent in playing guitar. my favorite songs on this album is Zero Tolerance. It's really nice!
Murder - 13.09.2008 at 23:18  
this album is a jewel, soo powerful, soo technic... wow what can I say?

one of my fav albums, Crystal Mountain is Amazing!!!
Deadmeat - 21.10.2008 at 18:01  
An absolutely magnificent album and also a very good review! Death never died. IMO they are the only band (fron what I've heard till now) who has not one weak album. One mediocre release. They worth to be called GODS..
GamlaSonn - 19.09.2009 at 21:32  
What can I say. Fun and thrashing album!
Powerslavex - 09.12.2009 at 00:56  
Chuck simply a genius, Crystal mountain brilliant
BloodFireDeath - 13.12.2010 at 09:07  
You mean Magnum Opus?
K†ulu - 13.12.2010 at 09:54  
Written by BloodFireDeath on 13.12.2010 at 09:07

You mean Magnum Opus?

Oh, no, of course not. I meant Opus Magnum.
BloodFireDeath - 14.12.2010 at 01:37  
Are you referring to the Hollenthon album? Because if not then you are wrong. But if you are it would make sense.
K†ulu - 14.12.2010 at 15:36  
Written by BloodFireDeath on 14.12.2010 at 01:37

Are you referring to the Hollenthon album? Because if not then you are wrong. But if you are it would make sense.

Well, I was just actually messing with you meaning that Magnum Opus and Opus Magnum are the same. But are you saying that you disagree that this is Death's best album (that's what I meant by Opus Magnum)?
Angelic Storm - 14.12.2010 at 16:05  
I think this is a great album, although I'm one of the very few that prefers "Individual Thought Patterns" over it. That album for me, is Chuck's magnum opus. Well that, and "Scream Bloody Gore". lol
BloodFireDeath - 14.12.2010 at 22:53  
Human is my favorite.

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