Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Rockhaq | May 27, 2017

Scroll to top

Top

No Comments

Album Review: Depeche Mode – Songs of Faith and Devotion

TakeABow30

Review Overview

Album Score
8.5
8.5

Haunting

Songs of Faith and Devotion proved that Depeche Mode still had fresh musical ideas hidden under their sleeves as the band channelled a more focused and darker sound. While the album did become a worthy sequel to Violator, key composer Alan Wilder would permanently part ways with the band in 1995.

Album Review: Depeche Mode – Songs of Faith and Devotion by Mark Wong

There’s no question that when Depeche Mode released their visionary album Violator in 1990, it firmly established four boys from Basildon as one of the most influential electronic groups in the world. The technical masterclass that was displayed in their predecessor would present Depeche Mode with the colossal task of trying to deliver something as innovative for their sophomore album; Songs of Faith and Devotion.

From the screeching feedback to the dirty blues guitar riff, it’s abundantly clear that opener I Feel You follows similar musical conventions to Violator’s Personal Jesus. It shows that Depeche Mode approached Songs of Faith and Devotion from a different perspective as they started to experiment with genres such as grunge rock. Lead vocalist Dave Gahan was adamant on bringing this raw quality to the song, as it was at this time in the early nineties that grunge rock dominated both the American and British music scenes.

Album Review: Depeche Mode – Songs of Faith and Devotion

Keyboardist Alan Wilder suggested the idea of bringing a live feel to the album where actual instruments such as drum kits would be used in favour of programmed drum machines. The use of real instruments exposed the imperfections of the recordings which brought out a more humane quality in Songs of Faith and Devotion.

Walking In My Shoes concerns the topic of committing a sin “Now I’m not looking for absolution/Forgiveness for the things I do/But before you come to any conclusions/Try walking in my shoes”. While Gahan isn’t repenting for his sins like he does in Condemnation, the message he tries to put across is that people shouldn’t judge others purely on their actions. Interesting production techniques can be heard through the pulsing distorted piano riff where a piano sample was run through a guitar processor to achieve this effect. The use of distortion gives a nod to genres such as German industrial music, which has been an influence on Depeche Mode’s work since 1983 album Construction Time Again.

Condemnation has clear influences of gospel music. The rhythm section of the track was constructed in an unusual but impressive way where the band recorded samples of wooden boxes being hit to form the intricate drum patterns. However Gahan’s incredible vocal range cannot go unmentioned. His soaring yet gravelly delivery makes you feel the emotion behind his plea for forgiveness to God “Accusations, lies/Hand me my sentence/I’ll show no repentance/I’ll suffer with pride.”

While producer Flood described it as a difficult record to make, Songs of Faith & Devotion still remains an important album in Depeche Mode’s back catalogue. By dipping into the darker realms of their sound, Depeche Mode produced something that was truly cathartic. The religious ideologies that were explored in Songs of Faith and Devotion amplified the internal conflicts that the band were suffering from.

Judas implements a bizarre instrument that rarely gets used in electronic music. Hearing uilleann pipes layered on top of the precise rhythm makes it hard not to think of places such as the Scottish Highlands. Judas’ angelic qualities are bolstered by guitarist Martin Gore’s soothing vocals, making you feel like your soul is being purified and cleansed of all sins.

The spine-tingling atmosphere that surrounds In Your Room perfectly documents the moments that Depeche Mode were beginning to fracture internally. It was during this time that Gahan had started to develop his life-threatening drug addiction to heroin. Producer Butch Vig (famous for his work with Nirvana) remixed another version of the song known as The Zephyr Mix. It’s a sharp contrast to the original version, as Vig honed a heavier sound that leaned towards more alternative rock influences.

Rush displays similar styles to Depeche Mode’s earlier work. This can be heard through the upbeat tempo and drum break-beats. Like In Your Room, the track explores the themes of sex “Open your sensitive mouth/And talk to me/Hold out your delicate hands/And feel me“.

While producer Flood described it as a difficult record to make, Songs of Faith & Devotion still remains an important album in Depeche Mode’s back catalogue. By dipping into the darker realms of their sound, Depeche Mode produced something that was truly cathartic. The religious ideologies that were explored in Songs of Faith and Devotion amplified the internal conflicts that the band were suffering from.

Jaw dropping production techniques such as the use of vocal samples to form some of the percussion sections proved that the band still managed to find new and unique approaches to their music. A whole 24 years after it’s release in 1993, Songs of Faith and Devotion is without doubt Depeche Mode’s most haunting and personal piece of work to date.

Submit a Comment