Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2023
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Privacy Policy

Death > Symbolic > Reviews > AmogusEnjoyer
Death - Symbolic

Pinnacle of death metal - 100%

AmogusEnjoyer, September 18th, 2023

As we all know, 1995 commercially was a dark year for metal with all the grunge bands like Nirvana topping the charts, but it was also a hidden golden year when it comes to the quality of the releases. We had “Imaginations From The Other Side”, “Land of the Free” and “Burn Offerings” on the power metal front, in black metal “Storm of the Light's Bane” took the black scene like a blizzard and on the death metal side we have a release that has not truly been surpassed by a death metal band in nearly 30 years now.

“Symbolic” stands as a perfect combination of pre-Human Death and post-Human Death. On one hand, the riffs are not as complex as on “Human” and “Individual Thought Patterns” bordering on the limit of wankery in the latter album's case. The riffs on the likes of title track “Symbolic”, “Crystal Mountain” and “Without Judgement” are actually pretty straightforward, there is no case of “riffs having riffs” here. However, don't mistake this for “Leprosy” or “Spiritual Healing” type of riffage, since this entire album has a far greater emphasis on melody, especially in the riffs. Hell, I consider this one of the better examples of non-Gothenburg melodeath. On the other hand, the jazz-inspired guitar solos of Chuck Schuldiner present all tracks, but most prominent on the album's epic closer “Perennial Quest” and “Zero Tolerance” justify labeling this album as technical death metal, while not annoying the listener by descending into self-indulgent wankery and gratification, staying long enough to be fresh and interesting. And this is where the album truly shines above its peers. The combination of old school death metal tropes and more technical and melodic aspects build upon each other, like in the aforementioned “Perennial Quest”, which ends with a minute of acoustic guitar strumming backed by a soft electric guitar solo, both slowly fading out. But to say that this album lacks aggression is an understatement. The pre-chorus of the opener and title track hits you in the face with such intensity and ferocity that it would make “Leprosy” nod in approval.

Death was a type of band that had a different lineup for pretty much every album released, with the only constant being the main man Chuck Schuldiner. His growls seem to be of a bit higher pitch here than what can be heard on “Human” and “Individual Thought Patterns”, only the follow-up “The Sound of Perseverance” having a higher pitch. However, it's still closer to “Human” than it is to the follow-up album. The guitars by him and Bobby Koelble pretty much nail every single riff and solo here, and considering the solos, Chuck can easily be considered one of the best guitarists in metal. Gene Hoglan once again is doing the drums, and once again he justifies the nickname of “Human drum machine”, everything in drums sounds just so precise, if I didn't look at the album credits and you told me it was just a drum machine, I probably would have believed you. Last thing to talk about is the bass. First thing, it's pretty audible, which is something pretty common for Death, especially on the debut and here. Second, whether it's just being a bedrock for the rest of the band or some creative basslines, Kelly Conlon nails it, even if I do prefer DiGiorgio.

What Death has accomplished here is truly spectacular. While it's more melodic and technical than before, it's not self-indulgent as something made by the likes of Opeth who just don 't know how to reel their wankery impulse in. If you want your death metal done with a bit more prog aspects, but don't want it overdone to death, this would be a record for you. If you like your riffs melodic, this is also a record for you. Actually, it's a definite recommendation regardless of what you are looking for, it's just a killer record from start to finish.