Review Summary: An absolute f*cking pillar in the world of metal.
When done right, metal is more than just music, it’s a work of art. This is exactly how I feel about Death’s most consistent release, “Symbolic”. It’s certainly a pinnacle for the band, as well as the genre. The album's stellar production also makes the effort accessible for any metal head, whether they’ve heard death metal or not. Unfortunately, Death would only release one more album after this due to vocalist Chuck Schuldiner losing a battle with cancer in 2001. As tragic as it is, Schuldiner accomplished more in his time on earth than any metal musician could ever hope for.
“Symbolic” is so perfectly executed it’s nearly impossible to pick out the best songs. It opens with the impressive title track and Chuck’s vocals sound better than ever before. His voice is still harsh, but has a much crisper sound than before. My personal favorite song, ‘Sacred Serenity’ manages to be thrashy, infectious, and beautiful all at the same time. One reason every song is so great is due to balance. Not once throughout the 9 tracks does the album feel redundant, and each song blends together perfectly. Another reason is musicianship. Schuldiner lays down some of the most memorable riffs I’ve ever heard, but even the bass manages to stand out. Finally, “Symbolic” is a classic because of the experimentation on the record. Not that there’s an extreme amount of it but there’s just enough to keep the album sounding fresh. ‘Perennial Quest’ is a perfect example of the band retaining their signature sound, but also showing signs of progression.
If I have a complaint about this album, it’s that there are only nine songs. Then again, within those nine tracks are the most exciting vocals and guitar riffs I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. We may have lost Chuck, but his legacy certainly lives on through albums like “Symbolic”; a true pillar for the genre and a shining example of how to craft the perfect metal record.