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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 4 February 2001
This was the first album that I bought of the highly sucessful band Death. Formed in 1983 as Mantas, Chuck Schuldiners singular vision of Death came through with it's first album in 1987. Scream Bloody Gore was just that, a very noisy gory death metal album. Playing on that album was Chris Reifert, who went on to found possibly the best gore obsessed death metal band Autopsy. After this they disbanded, and Chuck enlisted Massacre for his second album, leprosy. A more grown up, but still unbeleivably gory, it also set the scens for gore type metal. After that, things got a whole lot more technical, and Spiritual healing, Human, and Individual thought Patterns are all very good technical death metal albums.
Then, after a bit of a hiatus came Symbolic. Still with Drum god Gene Hoglan in the band, Chuck grabbed hold of another guitarist and a bassist and created another greatly technical album. This differs from the others, as it marks a distinct change into the more traditional metal stylings of The Sound Of Perserverence and his new project control Denied. Still as heavy as a good death metal album, but with a bit less speed, and some nice clean guitar touches. As usual, Gene's drumming is godlike, and with Chucks ever increasing ability, the signs were good for some highly technical, but also highly melodical songs.
The highlights on this are definately Symbolic, Zero Tolerance, Misanthrope, and Crystal Mountain, all showcasing a great new song structure that lifted them completely out of the death metal tag that had been over them for so very long. A fine album of crushingly heavy and disturbingly melodic passages, with some high order solos, and deep emotive lyrics.
What more can i say then Buy IT!!!
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on 17 January 2002
Following from the wonderful "Individual Thought Patterns", "Symbolic" offered a slightly stable lineup, with the awesome Gene "Gahod" Hoglan on drums staying from "Individual...".
The first album from Death that I bought, and this has got some of the most interesting riff and drum patterns, as well as showcasing the wonderful ability of being technical and catchy at the same time.
The lyrics are again themed, but they talk about aliens, the threat of too much CCTV type stuff, growing old, and some less reality based ones like Crystal Mountain and Perennial Quest.
Chucks guitar playing really dripped of Spanish style on this one, and his solos are as good as ever.
The vocals got higher again, and would show the progression that got them to their highest on "The Sound Of Perseverance", as well as the more Heavy(True) Metal stylings of the album. This sort of gives the hint about Control Denied, but in interviews he'd not been able to start anything, so I suppose his creativity for it seeped into the Death creativity, and so it's mixed together on here.
Another essential Death purchase
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on 13 March 2003
I own three Death albums- Scream Bloody Gore, Human and Symbolic- i bought them in that order and the transition from each is quite logical. I have also heard tracks of numerous other albums. Death began as amazingly brutal and raw and played extremely fast death metal. By Human, it had changed into a more technical, mature beast. This trend has continued onto Symbolic which is amazingly technical and less brutal than previous outings. All styles are great and i really love this album. The riffs are great very catchy and quite technical and the vocals are pure Schuldiner, even if they are less brutal than in the past. However, my favourite part of Death are the solos and on Human they had improved a lot to 'Scream' so by Symbolic they are excellent. The songs are longer than in the past but make perfect sense. This is defintely worth buying if you like metal like Slayer, Metallica and Maiden as it is not so brutal or one-dimensional as Scream, and would be more enjoyable than Human. Even so, I think everyone should own all Death albums because they were a great gore death metal, technical death metal and a great metal band. I will be purchasing the others
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on 29 December 2003
Wow. Just wow. That's the reaction I get while listening to this album. Not to take away from the other Death albums (sound of perseverance and individual thought patterns particularly) I do truly think that this is Chuck's finest hour. This is one of the few metal albums I know all the words to. Chuck attacks issues such as a 'big brother' society, the potential evil that power brings and more with the same intelligence and grace that he contemplates things such as the afterlife, mourning and nostalgia of past times. This intelligence and grace is portrayed back to the music. This album is everything. Beautiful, cathartic, heavy, deep. Even down to the subtleties of Gene Hoglan's amazing drum performance and the razor sharp, catchy riffs. The leadwork is beyond tasteful too, completely obliterating virtuoism and pomp with some of the most meaningful, yet still technical solos that have been spat from Mr Schuldiner and Bobby Koelble's fingers. The album just works from beginning to end, showing plenty of variation, yet still sitting completely in the stacatto thrash/death territory that Death has always employed as their primary weapon. If you have to just hear one song from this album, make it Zero Tolerance, a Death classic and the home of one of the best riffs ever. If you appreciate metal thats well played, powerful as much as it's brutal and deep then put Symbolic on the top of your list. I first heard this album the day before Chuck died. RIP.
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on 29 June 2005
I could go into extensive analysis of this album like many reviewers on amazon, pulling it to pieces, this sounds like...track so & so has phrases....simple lines intertwining etc...but I will keep it simple, this is the greatest metal album EVER. The end outro solo chokes me up every time knowing I won't hear that combination of hope, sadness, mysticism, strength & aggression again from the hands of evil chuck. Hopefully some young kid will pick this up, feel it's power & we'll hear that combination from their hands. Keep the metal flowing.
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on 2 November 2014
Awesome album not be missed, Gene Hoglan again manning the drums, Chuck takes 'death' to another level with this album from the opening track 'Symbolic' to the last... i bought the CD to play in the car and it doesn't disappoint.

The sound is more polished than previous albums and has a sharper edge to it than 'Individual Thought Patterns' the music and songs themselves are great, the extended version comes with demo tracks which are just brilliant. This is one of the few albums I can play end to end and not get bored.

Since the sad passing of Chuck, there has been a void in the scene, and since re-discovering this album have realised just how great he was as a musician, lyricist and writer. Symbolic is a great album not to be missed.
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on 27 June 2008
It's a tragedy that Chuck Shuldiner passed away, but at least we are left with this masterpiece!
Metal bands today do not compare to this brilliance. Its actual metal. None of that metalcore rubbish that pollutes the music industry today, its actual metal.
Chuck Shuldiner was a brilliant guitarist and it shows on this album. His solos are tasteful and not just mindless shred-outs. He is accompanied by an excellent and extremely talented band which makes this album the masterpiece it is. Every track is great and each one contains some classic riffage. The end of Perennial quest is almost hair raising and is a poignant ending to the album.
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on 6 September 2006
Great metal songwriters typically come in 2 forms. One's who craft the songs to fit a certain ambiance(Black Sabbath, Katatonia, Tool, Emperor...) and ones who achieve greatness through the exhibition of mastery of the instrument.(Randy Rhoades, Children of Bodom, In Flames, Slayer...) I'm a fan of both types of songwriting and it is extremly rare that a cd will satisfy my taste for both. Death's Symbolic is one of those rare albums that does. This is damn near perfect, and while there is a great deal of showmanship, it never goes over the top and over shadows the music. Chuck's growling is the best it's ever been and this album can single handedly be used as the case for including him among the best death metal vocalists ever. There's plently of amazing solo's among a somewhat progressive rhythem section. Gene Hoglan's drums are well done and drive the album along nicely. While Hoglan does hold back a bit, it's done with the purpose of playing what the songs require. This album is what pure death metal should strive to be: Intelligent and aggressive, heavy yet focused and just melodic enough to make it fun to listen to. Defitintly one of the top 20 albums of all time. Would recommend this to any death or melodic death fan. I also recommend checking out In Flames(lunar strain/subterrianian), Cynic, Mithras, Hate Eternal and Amon Amarth in addition to this.

On a different note, check out Within the Mind: In homage to the musical legacy of Chuck Schuliner, coming out later this year. It's directed by former Death guitarist James Murphy and features people from Six Feet Under to Mudvayne paying their respects. Proceeds go to help James Murphy who has a brain tumor.

R.I.P. Chuck Schuliner
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on 19 February 2015
this is a fecking classic, 20 years old now and no less fresh and showcasing talent that means death remain as influential now as they ever did. The guitar work is great here and hoglan teaches those drums some manners for sure.
The songs remain at around 5 minutes or so long on average allowing the songs to really sell themselves with the exception of the crushing album finale clocking in at a fancy 8 minutes of genius , and there are some classics here that i have loved for years such as without judgement and crystal mountain.It was their next album that i always considered their best, The Sound of Perseverance but this could be a close second. Looking back on the death catalogue, they didnt release any crap at all really, a rare feat. I will get to see the newer version of death as death dta at this years bloodstock, if i hear a couple of tracks from this i will be more than happy.
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on 27 July 2004
Now lets get one thing straight.I am a man of many music genre interest.(A min ago i was rewiewing Blink 182 and Ugly kid Joe and gave it 4-5stars). So i am by no means "a death metalhead". Fact of the matter is that this album covers about every genre called rock or metal. I was a fan of Death back in 1992 but after HUMAN(released that year) i was drawn to other music genres, like Metallica and Brit-Rock. I bought Symbolic in 1999 and suddenly all my wiews on music changed.The album had almost everywhere gotten 1O or 5 stars in music magazines, and rightfully so! Songs like "Sacred Serenity", 1OOO Eyes, Crystal Mountain, Symbolic, Without Judgement and Emty Words and all bona fide classics. This is Deaths Best album although the other ones are equally amazing. Chuck schuldiner was one of the most influential figures of Heavy Rock music and years ahead of everyone else. I you are to buy one album ever in your life, make it this one.Words cannot discribe the brilliance of Symbolic. It Will make your eyes water at least 5 times.
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