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Death - Symbolic CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.22 | 525 ratings

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5 stars "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 There have been a couple of lineup changes since "Individual Thought Patterns (1993)", as guitarist Andy LaRocque has been replaced by Bobby Koelble and bassist Steve DiGiorgio has been replaced by Kelly Conlon.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 bandīs 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 bandīs original bloodīnīgore type lyrics, and you have an intriguing and mature release. Itīs not sophisticated in a way where power is lost though. Itīs 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 theyīve been given another tweak on "Symbolic" to become the most high pitched growling vocals up until then on a Death release. Itīs 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.

Thatīs 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 doesnīt make much sense picking highlights. "Symbolic" is through and through a high quality release, and a 5 star (100%) rating is fully deserved.

UMUR | 5/5 |


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