Symbolic (Death album)

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Symbolic Album.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 21, 1995
StudioMorrisound Recording, Tampa, Florida[1]
Death chronology
Individual Thought Patterns
The Sound of Perseverance

Symbolic is the sixth and penultimate studio album by American death metal band Death, released on March 21, 1995, by Roadrunner Records. The album was remastered and reissued on April 1, 2008, with five bonus tracks.[2] It is the only album to feature Bobby Koelble and Kelly Conlon on guitar and bass, respectively, and the second and last album to feature drummer Gene Hoglan.

Musical style[edit]

Symbolic shows a continued shift in sound from Death's previous albums; the music became less focused on the traditional death metal template and more focused on increasing melodic aspects.[3] Symbolic has been described as technical death metal[4][5][6] and melodic death metal.[3]


Symbolic was released by Roadrunner Records on March 21, 1995.[7]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal8/10[9]
Record Collector[11]
Rock Hard10/10[12]

Symbolic has received widespread critical acclaim and is regarded by many as being Death’s greatest album, and by some as being the greatest death metal album of all time. In a contemporary review, Select stated that "there're still lashings of gristly, growling vocals and head-in-the-groin thrashing to be had" as a listener can "snuggle up to witness what dark depths Death's 12-year career has taken them too [sic]".[13]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic noted that "some of the riffs are beginning to sound a little tired and there is no great leap forward in terms of their musical ideas, but the sheer visceral force of their sound should please their dedicated fans".[7] A review of the 2008 re-issue in Record Collector stated that the album was as "close to flawless as metal gets, and a testament to the drive and talent of the much-missed Schuldiner".[11] Canadian journalist Martin Popoff considered the album "the band's most impressive and crossover-ish to date", combining conventional metal, "traces of doomy, Germanic melody and heaps of progressive might."[9]

The webzine Metal Rules ranked the album as the 7th greatest extreme metal album[15] and the 58th greatest heavy metal album of all time.[16]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Chuck Schuldiner.

2."Zero Tolerance"4:48
3."Empty Words"6:22
4."Sacred Serenity"4:26
5."1,000 Eyes"4:28
6."Without Judgement"5:28
7."Crystal Mountain"5:07
9."Perennial Quest"8:22
Total length:50:37[17]
2008 remastered bonus tracks
10."Symbolic Acts" (Demo of "Symbolic" without vocals)5:55
11."Zero Tolerance" (Instrumental demo)4:10
12."Crystal Mountain" (Instrumental demo)4:24
13."Misanthrope" (Instrumental demo)5:40
14."Symbolic Acts" (4-track demo of "Symbolic" with vocals)5:55
Total length:26:09


Personnel adapted from the CD liner notes of the original 1995 release and the 2008 reissue.[1][18]

Additional musicians
Technical personnel
  • Chuck Schuldiner – production
  • Jim Morris – production, engineering
  • George Marino – mastering, remastering
  • Patricia Mooney – design
  • René Miville – artwork, photography


  1. ^ a b Symbolic (booklet). Death. Roadrunner Records. 1995.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  2. ^ "BLABBERMOUTH.NET - DEATH: 'Symbolic' Reissue Track Listing Revealed". Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved October 13, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "10 Best Songs by the Band Death". Loudwire. July 18, 2013. Retrieved December 7, 2020. Symbolic saw a massive shift towards melody and a bit of a departure from the death metal that most bands were playing at the time. Along with Carcass and At the Gates, Death helped pave the way for infectious melodies and hooks to enter the genre.
  4. ^ "Review: "Death: Symbolic"". Sea of Tranquility. December 4, 2008. Retrieved September 2, 2021.
  5. ^ "Death - Symbolic". KXSC Radio. September 24, 2009. Retrieved September 2, 2021.
  6. ^ "Death - Symbolic - Metal Storm". Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Symbolic". AllMusic. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  8. ^ Bergman, Keith. "Review: Symbolic". Archived from the original on October 13, 2010. Retrieved February 26, 2010.
  9. ^ a b Popoff, Martin (August 1, 2007). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 3: The Nineties. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. p. 105. ISBN 978-1-894959-62-9.
  10. ^ Weeber, Thomas. "Death -Symbolic" (in German). Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  11. ^ a b McIver, Joel. "Death – Symbolic". Record Collector. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  12. ^ "Rock Hard review". issue 95 (in German).
  13. ^ a b PM (April 1995). "newalbums". Select. p. 93.
  14. ^ Atari. "Death - Symbolic". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
  15. ^ "Top 50 Extreme Metal Albums". Metal Rules. Archived from the original on April 5, 2018. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  16. ^ "The Top 100 Heavy Metal Albums". Metal Rules. Archived from the original on November 30, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  17. ^ " Symbolic:Death: MP3 Downloads". Amazon. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  18. ^ Symbolic: The Expanded Edition (booklet). Death. Roadrunner Records. 2008.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)