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4.47 | 180 ratings | 15 reviews
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Album · 1995


1. Symbolic (6:33)
2. Zero Tolerance (4:48)
3. Empty Words (6:22)
4. Sacred Serenity (4:26)
5. 1,000 Eyes (4:28)
6. Without Judgement (5:28)
7. Crystal Mountain (5:07)
8. Misanthrope (5:03)
9. Perennial Quest (8:18)

Total Time: 50:37


- Chuck Schuldiner / Guitar, Vocals
- Kelly Conlon / Bass
- Bobby Koelble / Guitar
- Gene Hoglan / Drums

About this release

Full-length, Roadrunner/Metal Mind
March 21st, 1995

Produced and engineered by Jim Morris.
Co-produced by Chuck Schuldiner.
Recorded and miexed at Morrisound Recording, Tampa, Florida.
Mastered by George Marino at Sterling Sound, New York.
Music and lyrics by Chuck Schuldiner.
Cover art and band photos by Rene Miville.
Design by Patty Mooney.

Roadrunner Records released a remastered special edition CD on 04/01/08 with the
following bonus tracks:

Demo/Pre-Production Recordings:
10. Symbolic Acts (original "Symbolic" title) (instrumental)
11. Zero Tolerance (instrumental)
12. Crystal Mountain (instrumental)
13. Misanthrope (instrumental)
14. Symbolic Acts (original "Symbolic" title) (with vocals)

* Tracks 10-13 recorded March 1994:
Chuck Schuldiner – Guitar
Gene Hoglan - Drum Programming
Steve DiGiorgio – Bass

* Track 14 recorded January 1994:
Chuck Schuldiner - Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Drum Programming

Thanks to UMUR, TheHeavyMetalCat for the updates


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Symbolic is considered to be not only the magnum opus of Death, but perhaps the greatest Death Metal record of all time, and by extension among the best releases in extreme music. Death not only managed to up their game and change styles ever so slightly between albums, but also consistently release nothing but the highest quality material.

Symbolic is an album I have been anticipating for some time now, knowing its reputation well, and it managed to meet every expectation. The songs here are probably the most identifiable in Death’s catalogue, each having insanely memorable guitar leads and mind blowing solos that do not sacrifice a strong melody for technical prowess. Musically, it is near-perfect as far as Tech-Death goes, placing the emphasis on brilliant songwriting and fantastic riffage first and foremost, and weaving their intricate technical abilities within the songs rather than using the songs as a means to show off. Production is great, rhythm section is great, vocals are intelligible… it’s the total package.

One weakness to me; the lyrics go a bit too far. By that, I mean at this point in his career, it seems Chuck was obsessed with the spiritual and abstract, and honestly half the songs don’t even sound like they are about anything, just philosophical ramblings without explicit meaning. Not for me, in any case…

Barring that, it’s about as great as Tech Death gets, which is kind of a sad thought in itself. To think that the genre would never pass a release from its early inception is a pity, but you would be incredibly hard pressed to find anything better than this in its entirety. Deservedly reigns as possibly the best Extreme Metal record of all time.
I remember when I first heard the phrase “adventure metal”; guitarist Chris Letchford used it to describe his band Scale the Summit. And it’s not like I can’t see where he’s coming from, either. Scale the Summit use atmosphere and shifts in mood to take you on a journey, an expedition of sorts. At the same time, though, it’s not like they were the first band to come up with such a concept; countless acts, from Opeth to Gojira, have gone great lengths to make their music feel more like an excursion than mere tracklists. But today, we’re going to talk about a band who had to evolve to get to this point: the almighty metal giants Death. To put it simply, it’s hard to believe that the same band that wrote such a primal display of death metal fury as Scream Bloody Gore could come up with an incredible mixture of aggression and sophistication. Despite this, Symbolic proved to be the pinnacle of Death’s steady evolution into the realm of progressive extreme metal. With a new lineup of guitarist Bobby Koelble, bassist Kelly Conlon, and returning drummer Gene Hoglan, Chuck was ready to redefine metal once again… this time achieving the strongest results.

From the opening notes of the title track, Symbolic sounds like a daunting undertaking, as if you’re actually scaling a mountain. Those monumental octave-jumping riffs, combined with the classically-inclined melodies arched above, show just how much Chuck Schuldiner had grown as a songwriter over the years. It’s not enough anymore to just have meaty, brutal riffs, but now they’re all embellished with little ornaments that flesh out the atmosphere and diversity of the recording. That melodic opening riff in “Without Judgment” sounds pretty cool; what more could they add? Well, some intricate and progressive drum fills courtesy of Gene Hoglan should do the trick. That chunky Drop-D intro to “Crystal Mountain” is aggressive and driving; how about that one? Get Schuldiner and Bobby Koelble to bring in some classical harmonies straight out of a Dream Theater album to round it out! Despite the progressive influences, however, the technicality and ambition never get overbearing to the point that they get in the way of a good riff or a good groove. On top of that, songs like “Misanthrope” and “1,000 Eyes” still pay respect to the band’s thrash-driven past with harsh and relentless arrangements that round out the variety on Symbolic.

Now, let’s get back to that first statement I made: the one regarding “adventure metal.” That may sound like a really stupid term (and, to be honest, I’d agree), but it’s still a great way to describe Symbolic. The way each song shifts and adjusts to each change in mood and tone is ridiculously natural, and gives off the true sense of embarking on a journey. “Perennial Quest” is probably the best example, especially in how it concludes the record with a soft acoustic portion that somehow doesn’t sound out-of-place on a Death album (then again, there’s also “Voice of the Soul”...). Many of the riffs and melodies here are adorned with an emotional punch that’s lacking in a lot of today’s technical metal; just listen to the quiet introduction to “Empty Words” and the subtle melancholy it wrings out of the clean guitar progression. On a similar note, check out the beautiful clean section of “Sacred Serenity,” which provides a nice contemplative break from the metal frenzy without breaking too far away from the band’s signature style. The lyrics are equally thought-provoking too, touching on themes of religion, hypocrisy, deceit, misanthropy, as well as many depictions of inner contemplation and soul-searching. The poetry on the record brings nice accompaniment to the more advanced musical arrangements, to say the least.

Death’s followup The Sound of Perseverance might be even more adventurous, and Individual Thought Patterns might have been more technical, but neither of them pulled these qualities together as meaningfully as Symbolic did. If you were to ask me why Symbolic works so well, I could answer that in just a few words: songwriting and storytelling. They sound like simple ingredients, but Death elevated them to such lofty heights that very few death metal or progressive metal bands could keep up with the sheer ambition and focus of this epic. Symbolic is beautiful, immersive, elaborate, brutal, and a stunning testament to just how emotionally and artistically accomplished heavy metal can be.
siLLy puPPy
In only a decade Chuck Schuldiner transmogrified his proto-death metal Mantas into the real deal by delivering the first fully agreed upon death metal album in the form of 1987’s “Scream Bloody Gore” with the more familiar moniker DEATH. However this was one artist who was never content to rest on his laurels and continued to evolve DEATH’s sound with each following album which subtly became more sophisticated and employed ever more experimental and technical aspects of progressive rock into his unique brand until it’s difficult to even consider DEATH a death metal band at all at least in the old school traditional sense.

By the time Schuldiner got to his sixth and most revered album, the band had gone through a ridiculous number of lineup changes but despite the rotating cast members each album continued to raise the bar closer to perfection. Well on SYMBOLIC that pinnacle of metal masterpiece material was finally achieved. This album featured two new members on the team. Guitarist Bobby Koelbe replaced Andy LaRoque and Kelly Conlon took over Steve Di Giorgio’s bass duties however unlike “Individual Thought Patterns,” SYMBOLIC featured a standard fretted bass instead of the fretless. While only Schuldiner and drummer Gene Hoglan remained from the previous album, the band at this point was a well-oiled machine capable of metal magic that has catapulted this album to the top of every “best of” metal list.

Virtually every aspect of SYMBOLIC is an improvement over what came before. Withe the very first heavy guitar riffs of the opening title track it’s clear that the band had reached the apex of excellence with dueling twin guitar attacks, fiery fueled compositions that exhibited more hairpin turns and diverse dynamics and best of all Schuldiner’s unique snarling vocal style that featured a wider range and more controlled precision unlike previous albums. Hoglan’s drumming dynamism took on new heights as well with precise technical chops infused with blitzkrieg speed attacks that showcased bouts of psychotic savagery. The album also featured stronger melodic sensibilities that kept DEATH uniquely in that happy place between the thrash metal world of Exodus, Forbidden, Overkill, Megadeath and the death metal 90s bands like Morbid Angel, Obituary and Autopsy.

While not the first tech death band DEATH nevertheless was in the forefront following Atheist, Cynic and Nocturnus. Having moved on from the shock and gore old school death metal themes a few albums back, SYMBOLIC featured more advanced lyrical themes that was instrumental in ushering in a new era of the more “mature” brand of death metal that explored more expansive themes and featured exhilarating changes of dynamics in the musical procession. This is basically where DEATH found the perfect balance of all the elements that had made the band stand out from its contemporaries. If that wasn’t enough SYMBOLIC also benefited from a better production and mixing job with each instrument finding its proper space to fully unleash its potential. The guitar sounds are perfectly placed and while the bass may not dominate, it provides an essential backdrop that allows the explosive drumming wizardry to stand out.

For the first time listener it may be a difficult task to understand what makes SYMBOLIC stand out amongst the previous albums. DEATH was not an in-yer-face kind of band that changed things drastically from album to album. The basic elements were pretty much retained and simply refined into a sleeker production. SYMBOLIC seems to be the point where all of the DEATH-isms simply aligned in the right places where chaos and melody intertwined, fiery virtuosity danced with traditional cyclical grooves and atmospheric dynamics such as clean guitar intros and off-kilter breaks offered a contrast to the incessant bombastic barrage of the twin guitar riffing and snarling growling vocal style of Schuldiner. Each track excelled in standing out from the rest and the album doesn’t offer one weak moment.

SYMBOLIC remains as stunningly fresh sounding as it must have some quarter of a century ago when it first stunned the world with its brash new interpretation of the fairly new kid on the block in the metal universe. This sixth album by DEATH is simply one of the best tightrope acts of walking the line between the melodic world of extreme thrash metal and the grittier filth of death metal all the while adding technical wizardry that added a sense of highbrow sophistication. Despite SYMBOLIC’s status as metal masterpiece that always ranks high on classic metal albums lists, DEATH wasn’t exactly met with admiration by the masses as it was a little too ahead of the game. Due to tensions with Roadrunner Records, Schuldiner actually broke up DEATH after SYMBOLIC and focused on the clean vocal splinter band Control Denied but eventually returned to the studio to craft one last metal masterpiece under the DEATH moniker with “The Sound of Perseverance.” As far as the core sounds of DEATH go, most consider this the pinnacle of the band’s existence and i cannot find any arguments against that myself.
Death’s “Symbolic” album first caught my attention when it appeared in the Top 5 Metal Albums of MMA, showing up smartly in the column of album artwork that usually includes “Master of Puppets”, “Rust in Peace”, “Rainbow Rising”, and “Reign in Blood”. The fifth album recently has been “Keeper of the Keys Pt. 2” but “Symbolic” has been there in the past, and as I have recently taken an interest in death metal, I decided this must be one of the first albums to acquire.

Death is considered one of the most important bands in the development of the genre. I have watched two YouTube channel videos where Death’s debut “Scream Bloody Gore” and Possessed’s “Seven Churches” have been discussed as first death metal albums. Over its career, Death released only seven albums before founding member Chuck Schuldiner passed away, but I’ve heard it said that there is not a bad album among them. So I had very high expectations when I received this.

The album was not to my expectations, however. First, the guitar tone was higher than I had anticipated. Also, the playing style was not technical and fast like Gorguts but more like technical thrash metal. By technical here I don’t mean highly complex and difficult riffs but rather thrash metal that covers several different riffs in a song, changing riffs and tempo abruptly, and includes slow, heavy riffs as well as speedy chugging. For the first two or three listens, I was frequently reminded of Sacrifice or even Slayer, as if those bands had created music with an added dimension. This is of course not to say that I don’t like the music. The guitar sound, the riffs, and the playing, along with many of the lead breaks, all sound really awesome to my ears. It’s just that I had been listening to Opeth, Gorguts, Kataklysm, Bolt Thrower, and Cryptopsy leading up to hearing this album.

Another surprise was Chuck’s voice. Once again, I had been expecting the death growl, that low and guttural roaring and bellowing. Chuck, however, has more of that thrash metal, back-of-the-throat, shouting/singing style. That too sounds great though. So again, no disappointment there either.

One other thing that I had been expecting was a progressive element. A fellow metal fan had told me that when he heard dream Theater’s “Images and Words” for the first time, he had just recently also heard an album by Death, and he was of the opinion that Death’s album was really progressive, so to him Dream Theater sounded more like a glam metal band with some flourishes. That set me up to expect some pretty impressive progressive metal but once more what I heard was not what I had anticipated. Again, I felt this was more like technical thrash metal than progressive metal. Adding more riffs to a song or changing tempo frequently is not uncommon in thrash. It’s one thing I loved about Slayer’s song “Hell Awaits”, songs from Sacrifice’s “Soldiers of Misfortune” or some older Metallica albums like “Master of Puppets” and even “Ride the Lightning”. Megadeth also went for that more technical thrash style. I wouldn’t exactly call it progressive metal though it does exhibit a higher level of creativity than just thrashing through track after track.

Now, despite the fact that much of the album did not meet my expectations, I do really like the album and I am considering picking up two more Death albums in the coming months. It’s not inconceivable that I would end up with the whole collection at some point. The only point for me where this album is not five stars is that I cannot pick out any favourite tracks. Of course each song is distinct from the others and some songs have become familiar enough to me now that I get a little happy rush when they start playing. But overall, there aren’t any really stand out tracks for me. The every song is worthy of 4 or 4.5 stars, in my opinion. I don’t hear any solid 5-star track or any of those totally killer tracks that must be in the higher almost unattainable plane of the 6-star song.

Death’s “Symbolic” is a very solid, consistent, and excellent album. For my preference, it’s not a Top Ten masterpiece, but it’s certainly an album worthy of any metal collection.
"Symbolic" is the 6th full-length studio album by US, Florida based death metal act Death. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in March 1995. There have been a couple of lineup changes since "Individual Thought Patterns (1993)", as guitarist Andy LaRocque has been replaced by Bobby Koelble and bassist Steve DiGiorgio has been replaced by Kelly Conlon. Drummer Gene Hoglan remains from the lineup who recorded the predecessor along with band founder/guitarist/vocalist Chuck Schuldiner.

Stylistically the music on "Symbolic" continues to refine the technical death metal style Death introduced on "Human (1991)" and further developed upon on "Individual Thought Patterns (1993)". So the music style on "Symbolic" is not miles away from how those two mentioned releases sound. But as mentioned certain elements have been refined and new elements have been added to make "Symbolic" stand out as one of the most well thought out and sophisticated releases in the band´s discography. One thing main composer Schuldiner has focused on is catchiness, which was never really an issue on previous releases by the band, but here it reaches new heights. Every single track on the album features memorable vocal hooklines/patterns, melodic lead themes, and catchy rhythm work, and "Symbolic" just feels like an album where nothing is left to chance. Everything fits in the right place, and the hooks appear just when they need to. Add to that intelligent and thought provoking lyrics, which are far away from the band´s original blood´n´gore type lyrics, and you have an intriguing and mature release. It´s not sophisticated in a way where power is lost though. It´s still overall a very aggressive and raw release, which I think is important to emphasize.

Schuldiner started out being relatively deep yet intelligible growling, but over the years have become higher pitched, and they´ve been given another tweak on "Symbolic" to become the most high pitched growling vocals up until then on a Death release. It´s still unmistakably Schuldiner singing though, and the vocals are generally very sharp, aggressive, and well performed.

The Jim Morris sound production is powerful, clear, and detailed, and suits the material perfectly. While the sound production on "Individual Thought Patterns (1993)" is professional and well sounding, I always felt the drum sound was a bit off, but that has been corrected on "Symbolic", where the drums feature a great powerful sound. Not that it needs to be said, but Gene Hoglan is a brilliant drummer, and with this sound production, his skillful playing is on full display. His footwork is incredibly fast and precise, but his symbal- and hi-hat work also deserves a special mention. The rest of the band are also well playing, but compared to their predecessors, both Bobby Koelble and Kelly Conlon are rather anonymous. Most guitar solos are played by Chuck Schuldiner, and you seldom notice the bass (which is a huge difference from the busy and high in the mix bass playing by Steve DiGiorgio). It makes for an overall more streamlined sound, but also a slighly less progressive one.

That´s not an issue at all though, as the material on the 9 track, 50:37 minutes long album is well written and memorable. Tracks like "Empty Words", "Zero Tolerance", "Misanthrope", the title track, and "Crystal Mountain" are absolutely brillitant, but the same can be said about the rest of the material, so it doesn´t make much sense picking highlights. "Symbolic" is through and through a high quality release, and a 5 star (100%) rating is fully deserved.
Symbolic is a well-produced technical death metal album which adds a substantial amount of polish to the more progressive direction taken in the band's music from Human onwards. The musicianship present is top notch, and the band successfully manage to avoid the pitfall of allowing the superior production values to take the edge off their aggression; on the whole, it's an intriguing listen which on a superficial level resembles traditional death metal but which reveals more and more hidden aspects the more you listen to it. I wouldn't go so far as to call it an all-time classic, but it's certainly a decent contribution to the genre.
Conor Fynes
'Symbolic' - Death (8/10)

While the more devoted Death fans out there always have their own opinions as to which album is their favourite, the band's sixth album 'Symbolic' is generally considered to be the go-to album when speaking of their later, more progressive work. Since the death of the band's mastermind Chuck Schuldiner, 'Symbolic' has since gone to legendary proportions among metalheads. Indeed, the album is a very good, even great piece of progressively- inclined death metal, featuring some great musicianship across the board, and some instances of truly grand songwriting. However, for someone that hasn't been too endeared to Death in the past such as myself, it is hard to distinguish this album as being the landmark of metal it has been heralded as being. However, although far from perfect, the album continues to see Death progress and reach their potential as an act.

When compared to the album's predecessor 'Individual Thought Patterns', 'Symbolic' can be said to have higher highs, and lower lows. On one hand, Death's music has finally received some strong production values (thanks to the strong efforts of engineer Jim Morris), Schuldiner's voice and sharp guitar work have never sounded better, and some of the songs here would turn out to be among the best Chuck ever wrote. Unfortunately however, the album isn't as consistent as 'Individual Thought Patterns' and only drummer Gene Hoglan is left from the all-star lineup of musicians beforehand. However, despite not trumping past works in all areas, 'Symbolic' does show a step forward for this band.

The philosophical growls, intermittent soloing and familiar structures that can be heard on many of Death's earlier works can again be heard here; the biggest, most noticeable change remains the improved production. Musically, the songs here are as complex as they ever have been, but the extra additions of softer sections (the beautiful acoustic outro to the album in particular) improves a dimension of the band that had been touched upon before, but never really explored.

Highlights here include the beautifully melodic and technical 'Sacred Serenity' and 'Crystal Mountain', which is arguably the most recognizable track Death has to offer. Both of these songs (with the first of particular note) show the band in their element, merging great songwriting with a touch of beauty and plenty of fiery of great skill from each member, although the band chemistry felt more pronounced with 'Individual Thought Patterns'. However, the album would stand as being the band's best yet, were it not for a few lapses in the music, being parts which feel far too generic and bland to be part of a masterpiece, although no song is completely without merit. 'Empty Words' and 'Without Judgement' seem to pass without leaving much of an impression behind, although the weaker songs are always followed by a piece of gold.

'Symbolic' is- to sum it up- an excellent album that shows the influential band at their peak, and while I could argue that the final album 'The Sound Of Perseverance' would crown the band's discography, 'Symbolic' stands as a great piece of death metal, although not meeting my expectations of the grand masterpiece it had been made out to be.
Symbolic is the second Death album I ever heard after The Sound of Perseverance. While that album got my initial interest in the band, Symbolic secured my place as a Death fan.

Naturally, the personnel of the band undergoes another shuffle. Guitarist Bobby Koeble and bassist Kelly Conlon, while not exactly the legends that Chuck has played with on past albums, certainly perform to the expectations fans might expect of them. However, in terms of all the instrumentalists, returning drummer Gene Hoglan is the one that truly makes a name for himself. We know that he can shred on the drums from hearing Individual Thought Patterns, but his playing on Symbolic shows him a bit more fluid, making rather difficult drumming seem so simplistic. The mix does justice to Hoglan’s performance.

Looking down the track list, I’m impressed with the quality of each song. All tracks have a crushing heaviness and at the same time are rather accessible. The melodic chorus of “Sacred Serenity”, the catchy riffing throughout “Crystal Mountain”, and the simplistic but strong verse riff of the title track are just a few examples of this. Symbolic stands as an excellent choice as a “gateway” album to death metal and more extreme forms of music.

Symbolic is one death metal album that could (and should) find its place comfortably in any metal fan’s collection. If you gain a deeper interest in this album, check out the 2008 reissue, which includes select demo tracks from the album (some which feature bassist Steve DiGiorgio!!).
The Angry Scotsman
Perhaps the most progressive work put out by Death, (opposed to Individual Thought Patterns which is their most technical) this is another brilliant album put about Chuck and Death.

Death is largely a musical dictatorship, and yet again the lineup changed for this album. Luckily, Gene was retained on drums. One the best drummers in metal, and on this album you will here less thrash and more exotic. In fact this is a much slower album then a lot of Death's previous releases. Gene's drumming is superb as always and while it is more varied than usual, still retains its technicality and blistering double bass.

As always, the entire lineup is loaded with talent. Each musician is great, and showcases their skill well, but is never sloppy. Chuck's composition skills are brilliant, and each song is well constructed. Their is never a part that drags, and the overall flow is smooth, (which is nice when so many metal bands tend to be quite abrupt, it is a nice change of pace).

Symbolic. Starts off nice and slow. Song has decent variation, there are not only changes in tempo, but also feel. A truly wild part in the middle! The song has it all, slow and heavy, thrashy, technicality and a blazing solo.

Zero Tolerance. A much slower song, made even more crushing with Chuck's vocals over it. Also note that his vocals are taking a higher pitch than compared to older stuff. Lots of great solos, and I really love the guitar work on this song. The rhythm and solo's are well done! Lots of great drumming from Gene the Machine.

Empty Words. Starts off quite slow and atmospheric. What!? Very chilling. Then the metal comes in. Some cool riffing and the song subtley picks up speed before the solo middle section.

Sacred Serenity. BASS! One of the more progressive songs, this one does feel like its actually moving. The changes are not too abrupt, and sections don't last too long. As I said, really feels like the song is moving. Some awesome riffing and drumming to boot.

1,000 eyes. With a name like that how can it not be good!? A faster paced song, lots of double bass drumming and outright thrash pace. Some damn impressive drumming on this song. I really enjoy near the beginning, there is a short time when the guitars are playing frantic sounding chords over some insane drumming.

Without Judgement. The weakest song on the album. Not that it is weak, but it just had to be pointed out. It is like the link in the chain that is 11 inches think while the rest are 12. The only real reason is because by this point, the song, while great, is more or less the same. Same layout, flow, etc Though the mid section, (2:47 to 3:35) is one of the better parts of the whole album.

Crystal Mountain. My favorite on the album, and one of my favorite Death songs. I have a difficult time picking "favorites" but I may have no issue saying this is my favorite song from Death. A true masterpiece. Starts off nice and metal, but won't last too long. The songs changes it up fairly often, but never too often or swiftly, and Gene's drumming does not let up. This song may be one of Gene's best displays. Has all the essentials but some also some unique cymbal work throughout. I almost don't need to mention his complex drumming. The tapping part is awesome and gives way to an emotional solo. The intro riff starts again, followed by the same succeeding section. This is good though! It's mellow feel is complemented with Chuck's harsh vocals and backed up by sweet bass and awesome drumming. I have not mentioned Chuck's lyrics yet. They are always good, but this song always struck me. Lines like, "Inside Crystal Mountain commandments are reborn!", "Inflicting wounds with your cross turned dagger!", "Shatter the myth, don't cut your self on your words, against dreams made of steel!". Listen to the lyrics on this song, and thrown at us with such power! The outro is simply amazing. I have to stop myself, because I can probably write a review on this song alone.

Misanthrope. Talk about a change of pace! Starts out intense, probably the most straight up death metal on the album. A thrashy, fast paced song, sans a quick section near the middle. All the Death essentials.

Perennial Quest. The finale, and a good one for the album. A microcosm of the whole album, this is a long winding song. Lots of slow, very slow, heavy riffs, some thrash, some mid paced, technicality, great dual guitar work, melodic and shred guitar solos, varied drum work and even an acoustic section! Add a nice guitar solo over it, and you have a chilling, beautiful outro to a brutal and technical album. Can it be any more fitting?

My third favorite death album, and in my opinion their most challenging. Very excellent work of music!

Four and a Half Stars
Forget all preconceptions at the door for Symbolic. While it does have death metal elements all over, it is far from the sound of classic death. The instrumental ability on this album raised the bar so high for bands of the day that tech-death became a major scene within itself. Progressive death metal became a legitimate genre, and when a legendary band such as Death began progressing beyond standard metal, it somewhat gave other bands license to explore beyond the precedent. In this manner, Death is for death metal what the Beatles were for rock music.

The album starts off with a simple lone guitar riff of the title track. Upon first listen it doesn't seem to foreshadow anything particularly innovative or technical. But a minute into the groove everything explodes. Suddenly tempo changes are the norm, and any song can go any unpredictable direction. The band explores rhythms, going off several tangents within a few minutes. The musicianship is top notch as well. While everyone knows that Chuck Schuldiner was a legendary guitarist with extraordinary talent, and while he showcases this perfectly within the album, another remarkable aspect is his tone. When he's shredding it brings a mystical aura across the heavy soundscape from the other musicians. While magical is not an angle most metal guitarists aim for, the word describes Schuldiner's playing perfectly. Gene Hoglan compliments him well. As 'the atomic clock' he not only works as a timekeeper, but he embellishes the sound so well with fantastic fills and driving groove. The bass, though, is less audible than most of Death's progressive era, though Bobby Koelble carries Schuldiner's backing guitar riffs loyally.

This is one of those rare albums where every song stand out on its own merit. Each one has a perfectly good reason to be on it too. There's no filler, and each song supports the album thoroughly. The opening track introduces the album well, "Empty Words" has a haunting intro and impressive sweeps in the chorus, "1,000 Eyes" is a relentless thrashfest, "Crystal Mountain" has a strong drive along with an emotional outro, and "Perennial Quest" makes for an epic closer. These songs and every one in between bring something to the table. I feel like there is little justification to say any one track is better than another.

So what are you waiting for? Not only is Symbolic a stunning listen from beginning to end, but it is a definitive work that lays the ground for both death metal and prog metal to come. It contains innovative ideas, top-level musicianship, and metal songs that are sure to be classics for a long time. It deserves a spot in every metal collection, and for those unfamiliar to the genre it is a good introduction.

Members reviews

1967/ 1976
For the pleasure of listening to good music ... For the pleasure of dreaming! Thanks Chuck!

Death Metal is an extreme type of Heavy Metal with a mix between Speed Thrash Metal and Venom and Celtic Frost and similar bands of 80's with "growl" vocals. But for shure it has evolved into something unique, becoming, thanks to Death, Cynic, Pestilence, Atheist and a similar band in a genre that was not only extreme Metal. To give an example of what has come to try to imagine a Speed Thrash version of Atomic Rooster or Black Widow! You understand very well what I mean. And in fact this subgenre of Death Metal Progressive Death Metal comes called! This natural evolution has given birth to some of the finest Rock albums of all time in technique and magic, warmth and sincerity. It seems strange but I see more this kind of music as a descendant from the prog rock of the 70's that Neo Prog.

Musically "Symbolic" draws from Speed ​​Thrash Metal as much as from Progressive. Certainly it is an album that can not be dismissed merely as Progressive Death Metal because if that's true, "Symbolic" come to a lesser extent also Thechnical Thrash Metal, Power Metal, Symphonic Metal, Baroque music, Bach and Wagner. In an overview listening to "Symbolic" I see the same music that played Celtic Frost in the mid 80's but faster and technical! In any case, "Symbolic" sounds like an album that does not have a home in a specific genre, because as I said it becomes a pure example of Prog Metal and even of Prog Rock!

The production is crystal clear and difficult to improve. The mix is structured so that power and technique have the same weight in the pieces of "Symbolic" but, at the same time, the melodic parts become even more melodic (but without losing power!). Shouldiner is always at the highest levels but surprisingly, the drumming of Gene Hoglan, always powerful, precise, technical and fiery, played with ease and precision.

In conclusion I can say that "Symbolic" is an album truly immortal. It is the son of Shouldiner and mind, mind that, a few years later, will betray him. Even if you hate Death Metal... You can not hate "Symbolic"!
Unfortunately I don’t like death metal. Initially I felt that this disqualified me from writing a review for this album. But the fact that Symbolic has risen to the top of the rankings has driven me to do so. I have honestly tried to listen to every track. I enjoy every one of them until the vocals start, which then spoil it for me. I really do not see the attraction of this type of vocal. I appreciate the instrumental composition and the skill level of the musicians but 80% of the album is unlistenable for me. This is why I can only give this one star.

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  • avestin
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  • Bartje1979
  • Bourbon
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  • Isaac Peretz
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  • Peacock Feather
  • gvra3
  • Bogdanmime
  • sploosh
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  • Jack Revelino
  • willprogresivo
  • Caio2112
  • The Leveller
  • Diricul
  • Purple Haze
  • MrJ00ker
  • tapfret
  • Mae7Mae
  • ian
  • Daniel Wallace
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  • piccolomini
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  • kalacho
  • Alex
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  • TerryDactyl
  • The T 666
  • starlessabstract
  • Jone Souza
  • Vim Fuego
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  • wizz
  • TheHeavyMetalCat
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  • Bosh66
  • serenitypaintedeath
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  • powermetal2000
  • gmarques
  • Nightfly
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  • aqualung
  • shadowoffadream
  • floflo79
  • Unitron
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  • Primeval Scum
  • BYFDfan
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  • sepozzsla
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  • fabprog
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  • Nazar_Sergijovych
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  • Anster
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  • Bog
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