Review: Symbolic
Magazine: Aardschok / Netherlands
Written by: Robert Haagsma
Published: April 1995

More than a decade ago, Chuck Schuldiner together with congenial spirits like Morbid Angel and Obituary, made the foundation for the death metal scene in Florida. In the blossom period Death turned out to be the most technically gifted band. While most of the bands from the first hour seem to stand still Chuck is , with his constantly changing line up, developing still.

The combination of all scorching aggressiveness and musical skill got better on every album. A positive impulse was the joining of power drummer Gene Hoglan (ex-Dark Angel), some years ago. His dominant rolls give the Death sound an extra dimension.

The story is continued again in a positive direction on their newest release "Symbolic". Without making any concessions to his old style, Chuck added new elements that will gain a broader audience. The guitarist/vocalist still drags the death grunt from out of his toes but articulates better so the vocals will be a stumbling block for a smaller part of the listeners.

Almost every song is dripping with unadulterated aggression, maybe Chuck & Co. are playing off some business troubles. For the changeover from Relativity to Roadrunner wasn't plain sailing. The anger is wrapped in great songs, abundantly blessed with super riffs, clear sounding solo's an incidental acoustic guitar and the resourceful drumming of Gene Hoglan.

It's quite an experience to hear these two Grand Masters play together, better than ever before. Besides that, the newcomers Bobby Koelble (guitar) and Kelly Conlon (bass) don't stay behind a bit. Also a compliment for producer Jim Morris. The sound is hard but clear. To accomplish this with such dominant musicians is an achievement on its own.

Quoting single songs actually is not relevant. The CD does not have one weak moment, get's better every time and the more you play it. Mainly because the high level of the songs reveal bit by bit.

Up 'till now, Symbolic, without any doubt, is the best album of Death. Needless to say, Death is one of the survivors of the genre. Essential !!!

Robert Haagsma


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Translated by YK/AS for EmptyWords-Published on May 27 1999