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Depeche Mode
Bandname: Depeche Mode
Title: Playing the Angel
Genre: Electronic / Wave
Release Date: 17th October 2005
Record Company / Label: Mute


Depeche Mode doesn’t need an introduction. And if you make an attempt you should name everything and that alone would take up several pages. The band had it’s high times and it’s (very) low times. And the last couple of years their release have been the subject of discussion if they still had "it". I must say that Depeche Mode never really lost it, but that they had a sort of time for relaxation. And now they are back for business. The new album is out (after much anticipation) and they make it clear that DM 2005 is still a force to be reckoned with.


David Gahan
Martin Gore
Andrew Fletcher


Song Review

1. A Pain that I’m used To – 3:57
Straight in with a bang. Loud electronic noises open the album, quickly reduced to a dark, gloomy melody and Dave’s vocals. From the very first notes it’s clear that the dreamy sounds of the last couple of albums are traded in for the tense melancholy of the older material, but combined with a modern approach and equally modern sound. The dynamics are immense and this song is clearly one of the best in quite a while. I wanna hear this track live, it must be quite a sight.

2. John the Revelator – 3:41
DM is well-known for toying with a diversity of influences outside of their own musical spectrum. John the Revelator is a return to that approach. As the beat kicks in it reminds me of the time of Personal Jesus. Dirty and gritty gospel influences. Catchy as hell and singing along is a mandatory reflex. This must speed up many DM-fan’s heartbeat. It’s almost like the fuzz of the last year or so between Dave Gahan on one side and Martin and Andrew on the other has refuelled the fire. The band is fierce and the promise of a big shiny new album is becoming a reality very quickly.

3. Suffer Well – 3:49
The significant guitar sound of Martin Gore opens the tracks and Dave sings "where were you when I fell from grace…". Up tempo beat and another great song is born. The chorus reminds me a lot of the Music for the Masses album. Especially Martin’s backing vocals. The use of modern, distorted sounds lifts this up to the new century. Well done.

4. The Sinner In Me – 4:55
Dark, growling sounds lead us into the dark chasms of DM’s religious fixation. Almost whispering the verses. The tense feeling only broken through by the chorus. The pulsating sound. Another dirty and gritty song, burst open after 3 minutes by a cacophony of distorted sounds. Finally the trademarks of the old DM has evolved beyond 2005.

5. Precious – 4:10
The first single of the album. When I first heard this song I couldn’t believe my ears. The melancholy, the melody lines, the chorus. Definitely one of the band’s best songs in a long, long time. One of my favourites. Where most of the other tracks are giving you the feeling like there’s a ton of bricks weighing you down, this song is more like an heavenly revelation. Angel wings opening up, light breaking through the clouds.

6. Macro - 4:02
This is the first song on the album with Martin Gore at the microphone. It´s a very typical weird Gore-ballad with a very exalted chant. The lyrics partly state riddles: "See the microcosm - in macro vision. - one universal celebration – one evolution – one creaton". Not an easy track to grasp, but definitely one of the heartbreakers of the album.

7. I want it All – 6:09
Slow, dreamy start with a ethereal feel. The slowest track so far, but with DM’s trademarked strong vocal melodies. So far there hasn’t been any track that has lost my attention. Something that gives hope. Might this be a full return to form?

8. Nothing’s Impossible – 4:21
Straight into the next track. Louder and with a slight reference to Ultra, sound-wise. Low pitched vocals and a hypnotic feel. Another dark and gloomy track the way we like it. Many gothic bands could learn a lot from this band. Where many are trying to sound dark and maybe even evil and fail miserably, these guys do it like it’s their second nature. Another one of my favourites…

9. Introspectre – 1:42
An instrumental like we had a couple of them on the Ultra album. Personally I don’t mind them, but they’re not my cup of tea. It’s nothing horrible, definitely not. But I wonder what the use is of putting these soundscapes on your album. An introduction to the next song maybe?

10. Damaged People – 3:27
A slow melodic track with Martin Gore on lead vocals. I was already wondering how many tracks Martin would sing on this brand new album. It’s tradition to have a few. And here is another. Martin’s vocals are sometimes quite similar to Dave’s, but less gritty. And Martin uses a lot more vibrato. These songs with Martin on lead always are quite atmospheric and this is surely no exception. Another A-track.

11. Lillian – 4:44
After all those atmospheric sounds, Lillian starts off with a strong beat, some retro synth sounds and a drive that promises another strong track. A strong chorus and we’re still on track for a hole-in-one. Dave’s slightly whiny vocals give this track a certain feel. Half-way through you can hear some old fashioned DM in the retro sounds. It all sounds so familiar, so natural. Like wearing an old comfy favourite sweater after years of wearing tight-fitted clothes.

12. The Darkest Star – 6:38
And then the last track. When the first sounds come in I’m a bit worried that this would refer to Exciter more than to the older material, but after a few seconds a dark bombastic bang kicks in and seconds later everything turns dark and gloomy again, and my trust is reinsured. The atmosphere is tense and the dynamics huge. A choir of Martin’s vocals in combination with Dave’s bass-filled vocal lines give this track an eerie feel. Building towards the end, getting darker and darker. What a well-composed end to this terrific return to form. Can’t wait till the upcoming tour!

Technical information

Total playing time: 47:38
Total tracks: 12

Cover picture

Depeche Mode


After Ultra (which took me quite some time to appreciate) and Exciter (which I only like for 50%), I was cautiously awaiting the new album. Dave Gahan’s and Martin Gore’s solo albums were interesting, but more and more I got the feeling it might be all downhill from here for Depeche Mode. Boy, was I wrong. The new album kicked me in the face, in the butt and shook me up severely. I really, really like this one. The essence of the DM sound that made me like the band in the first place has returned and I hope there are more albums like this one to follow. In some way it’s unbelievable that these 40+ men are still capable to write and perform this music that still captures my interest after all this time. A definite must for every dark music fan. Not into electronic music? Learn to listen to Depeche Mode. They already influenced a freight load of dark metal bands, and I’m not even talking about the wave and electro scene yet. This album is, as Dave Gahan states, about pain, pain and more pain. So get it now!


Music: 9.5
Sound: 10
Extra's: n/a
Total: 9.75


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