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Classic Review: Death - Symbolic

Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 2008
Originally released in: 1995
Duration: 50:38
Tracks: 9
Genre: Death Metal

Rating: 5/5

Review online: January 5, 2009
Reviewed by: Hermer Arroyo
Readers Rating

Rated 4.38/5 (87.69%) (91 Votes)

When revising the history of Death Metal this band is at the top of the conversation. One of the arguments that could be said is that they always stayed fresh, ever changing and staying good in the process. That's where Death 6th album comes in, because Symbolic is the pinnacle of Chuck's career.

While this is not the speed assault that Scream Bloody Gore was, this album is a more calculated effort. Given the melodic nature of the songs it shows incredible variety, not sticking with one tempo on the whole record. This is a much unified record, with tons of variety, not a single boring minute. In order to pull this off, Death had to have two things: songwriting and first rate musicians. Fortunately that is what this band had during their whole career.

First - the songwriting: much more complex, memorable and epic than any other Death album. The songs will stick in your head and would not let you go, you'll remember every riff, solo, drum pattern and chorus on Symbolic. Prime examples of this are the title track and "Perennial Quest". Also the lyrics should be worth noting, instead of gory and Satanic themes, Death chose to sing about personal thoughts and emotions, greatly differing from the vast majority of the Death Metal bands.

Second - the musicians: because you cannot perform this kind of metal without geniuses at work. Apart from Chuck Schuldiner and Gene Hoglan, Bobby Koelbe and Kelly Conlon are relative unknowns. After this record, that would not longer be the case because they rule, it's that simple. These newcomers showed complete confidence in their abilities, one prime example being "Sacred Serenity" where you can hear every instrument clearly and get easily impressed. Another great thing about this work is the guitar playing, impressive in every way imaginable, magnified by great and long solos. Also Chuck's vocals are an improvement over previous efforts, still very much understandable but somehow projecting more viciousness and clarity than any other of his works.

This may not be the best Death Metal album of all time, but a solid argument could be made. That's how cool this record is, with no filler and all killer and almost an hour long. Because of that, I say this is better than Human, or any other work Chuck Schuldiner has done.

Other related information on the site
Review: Chuck Schuldiner - Zero Tolerance (reviewed by Lars Christiansen)
Review: Human (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Individual Thought Patterns (reviewed by Adam McAuley)
Review: Leprosy (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Live In L.A. (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Scream Bloody Gore (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: The Sound of Perseverance (reviewed by Hermer Arroyo)
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