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Death - Symbolic CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.21 | 554 ratings

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The Pessimist
Prog Reviewer
5 stars An excellent album from the arguable pioneers of one of my favourite genres. Symbolic isn't their best album, then again I can't actually pinpoint their best album as it changes every day. This is seen by some as the pinnacle of their releases, and i couldn't disagree with them on that. Symbolic feaures some of the best riffs ever created with all the other factors of death metal fans love so much: virtuoso playing, percussive growls, rapid changes in tempo, dark atmosphere, tight arrangement and instrumentatio... It's all here, wrapped into 9 worthy songs.

Symbolic - The album kicks off with possibly THE best metal riff ever created in the title track. This isn't so much progressive as simply awesome, the tempo changes are here in abundance and Gene Hoglan is worth mentioning for his unmatched metal drumwork. The screams on this are well developed also, probably the sound Schuldiner was working for all these years before. 9/10

Zero Tolerance - A Death classic amongst fans, the drum intro leads us into yet another onslaught. The atonal guitarwork here is splendid and shows off just how Chuck's songwriting skills have evolved over the course of 4 albums. Speaking of which, the guitarwork here is astounding, with some splendid harmonies. This is a real mosher, so get ready for some fully angry music. Another strong track. 9/10

Empty Words - This reveals a little of their progressive side with the quite clean intro. The sequence is repeated several times until we are then bombarded with aural chaos once again, this time with a very melodic guitar line. This is also seen as a Death classic, and probably one of the highlights of the album. Everything here is done so professionally and it shows so much maturity it's practically breathtaking. The musicianship is at top notch here. 10/10

Sacred Serenity - Is a weak track in comparison. The drum and bass intro is quite promising, but then the coolness slips away slightly. Still remarkable nonetheless, just not on parre with the rest. Mind you, the high guitar line at the beginning is awesome, it has to be said, and this song really does drive. 7/10

1'000 Eyes - Living in the pupil of 1'000 eyes. I love this track to death (excuse the pun), it is THE Gene Hoglan performance to listen to (just listen to the tightness of the ultra fast blast beats) and is just littered with tempo changes. The short tapping solos make this song a gem. 10/10

Without Judgement - A stereotypical metal riff opens this strong track, the palm muting is especially effective in Without Judgement. This has a simple, yet memorable guitar solo in it which is another highlight on the album. Chuck shows us his shredding skills also in some sections and he pulls it off just as well as Petrucci, if not better in my opinion. The middle melodic riff in the centre of the track is brilliant as well. 9/10

Crystal Mountain - This is in between Sacred Serenity and Zero Tolerance standard, so it's definitely worth a listen. As usual, Hoglan's drumming is unforgettable as he really shows off his tom skills in this epic track. The dramatic breakdown at around the 1:30 marker is another nice surprise. 8/10

Misanthrope - The speed metal intro is possibly the only thing impressive about this movement. I thiknk this may well be the weakest track off the album. Some nice riffs dealt in here nevertheless, and still a good track. 7/10

Perennial Quest - Here is the most popular track off this wonderful album, and the closer. I too think it is a masterpiece of extreme music. All the musicians are at their peak here, the lyrics are great and time signatures are used with a huge efficiency. This is possibly the most progressive song off the album, and I can listen to this one all day. The clean outro is simply lush however, and because of that this way well be the first purely progressive death metal album ever. As well as historical significance it is a rewarding listen. 10/10

Overall, I would say that this is a classic metal album and a must have for prog-metal fans. If you can withstand the harshness of Chuck's screams then a whole world will open to you. If you are a drummer, this is the album for you. If you are a guitarist, this is the album for you. If you are a metal songwriter, this is also the album for you. In fact I'd recommend this album to anyone who enjoys music with bite and many quick surprises. Being an extremely (excuse the pun once again) progressive album also, I can justifiably award this album a 5 stars, a masterpiece of progressive music.

The Pessimist | 5/5 |


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