Review Summary: Chuck Schuldiner's swansong, a magnificent album loaded with great riffing and awesome song structures.
From the crushing opening riff of the title track through to the beautiful melodic closing moments of Perennial Quest, there is no album in existence that takes a listener on quite the journey that Symbolic from Death does. It is often debated where Death hit their pinnacle due to the overwhelming consistency of their entire discography, but Symbolic is correctly the one that is most often championed as the best of the bunch. This was yet another album that cemented Chuck Schuldiner's legacy as one of the finest composers of the 20th century, and is rightfully highlighted as one of the best metal albums of all time.
The sheer creativity on display here is absolutely astonishing. Not one of these songs comes off sounding remotely similar, and each one takes you through many musical twists and turns. The guitar work is well written, refraining from relying on speed in favor of many more mid paced sections such as in the verse to Without Judgement. However, the band also showcases they are more than capable of fast playing where necessary as their music constantly evolves and warped beyond recognition. 1000 Eyes is one of the best tracks to display this, morphing between numerous changes in pace whilst still retaining a complete feel. There are also some occasional melodic breaks such as the extremely calm introduction to Empty Words that provide the breathing space that a relentless album such as Human was devoid of.
Symbolic is an album loaded with some of this band's finest tracks, including the massive closer, the opening title track, Crystal Mountain and Sacred Serenity. These tracks prove exactly why the band is seen as one of the best in their genre. The title track rams many hard hitting riffs down your throat, whilst Sacred Serenity jumps from a very heavy verse to a beautifully crafted chorus that is among the most melodic moments on the album. Crystal Mountain is one of the band's best known songs and more than lives up to its hype with an awesome chorus riff and one of the most crushing slower parts as well as utilizing some really good lyrics and a magnificent acoustic solo. Perennial Quest is an eight minute closing song that contains one of the best choruses on the album and more brilliant lyrics.
It is not hard to see why Symbolic is ranked as one of the finest metal albums in existence, containing some stellar instrumentation and brilliant lyrical content, all capped off with a fantastic production job. This is Chuck's swansong. The riffs are some of the best he wrote, whilst the drumming shines throughout including a cool introduction to Zero Tolerance. Meanwhile,.Sacred Serenity best shows off Steve DiGiorgio's fretless bass work that helps to make this an absolutely perfect release.