Friday, March 15, 2013

Death - Symbolic (1995)

I know a lot of people consider this to be a great album by the band, especially those who prefer a more technically progressive approach. I also know that many folks out there consider The Sound of Perseverance to be the one major flaw in Death's career. Personally, I felt that 'Symbolic' was the beginning of the end for Death. I tend to disagree with many of the pretentious "old school" fanatics that adhere only to the first two albums (with only the truly forgiving among them giving a pass to 'Spiritual Healing'. Not sure why that albums receives the dissent that it does as I've always considered it to be the pinnacle of the first three album era). I felt that 'Human' was a great fuck you to his ex-bandmates in Massacre, who, in all honesty released a monstrously boring debut that same year with 'From Beyond' and 'Individual Thought Patterns' was a perfect companion piece to 'Human'.

Enter 'Symbolic' and it's painfully obvious that Schuldiner was bored to (ahem) death with Death. Vocally, you can hear the transition he was making from all out death rasps to a higher pitched, dare I say more "accessible" sounding vocal emission. The rhythms here sound pretty flat to me. Honestly, the whole album sounds pretty uninspired. 'Symbolic' sounds like a "diet" version of the previous two albums. You can forget any sort return to the sound of the first three albums here. This is pretty much a warm up for 'The Sound of Perseverance'. Hell, I actually probably like that album a little better. For one, Richard Christy's drumming is fucking phenomenal and two, the album's not that much of a letdown considering I had pretty much written the band off after hearing this. Whereas 'Human' is a tempered beast yet nonetheless volatile, even beautiful, and 'Individual Thought...' was a more excitedly paced version of that, even a bit more technical without ever going overboard, 'Symbolic' is just plain boring. It's barely even death metal. this is death metal "lite". This is the kind of shit that pseudo-intellectual prog-fags worship. As if to "symbolize" the fire being taken out of the band, 'Symbolic' is the first album not to feature the blazing 'T' in the band's logo. How ironic.

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