on May 9, 2001
Songs Of Faith And Devotion could be Depeche Mode's most underrated album to date. A common misconception about SOFAD is that it was a sell-out to the grunge movement of its time. The only song on the album that might pass as being grunge, however, is "I Feel You," and only for its hard edge and raw emotion. The rest of the album has too much depth and complexity, both musically and lyrically, to be classified as a sub-genre of grunge music. Although the album contained some raunchy sounds, it maintained a spiritual aura from start to finish. In a year when bands like Pearl Jam and The Spin Doctors dominated the scene, Depeche Mode held themselves to a higher standard and forged a completely different sound.
Also somewhat of a misconception was that Depeche Mode abandoned their roots on this album. It was a departure in the sense that live drums and more guitars were incorporated into the music, but SOFAD was still part of the band's evolutionary process. Martin Gore had actually started sneaking guitars into the mix on Music For The Masses, with the guitar work becoming more pronounced on Violater. SOFAD became a bigger outlet for this side of the band. Also, the album elaborated on typical Depeche Mode themes. Lyrically speaking, it's arguably Martin Gore's most inspired songwriting.
I consider SOFAD to be my favorite DM album. That's a strong statement coming from someone who loves everything from Speak & Spell onwards. Unfortunately, SOFAD wasn't well received by the general public and many DM fans alike. Martin Gore stated at the time of its release that they wanted to challenge their listeners. It's not the kind of album everyone's supposed to like (DM fans included), but most people weren't up to the challenge.
on August 12, 2005
When Depeche Mode's 1993 album "Songs of Faith and Devotion" begins with screaching vinyl scratches of its opener and first single, "I Feel You", it becomes clear that there will be no room for enjoying the silence on this record.
When the album hit, dedicated fans of the group's earlier releases were shocked by the band's new harder, alternative rock sound, a far departure from the days of "People Are People". The thing is they made the mistake of misjudging the album for something that is not, and that is a standard rock record.
Even the band's most fierce song, "I Feel You", is layered with lots of synths, from the processed distorted blues guitar riff, to the digitally effected live drums, to the trademark Depeche Mode atmospheric synth lines.
But this album, much like most other Depeche releases, does not rely on a few singles, but is best heard in album form. When given a full listening, "Songs Of Faith and Devotion" (SOFAD) is arguably Depeche Mode's most challenging and powerful album.
From the crying gospel of "Condemnation" to the somber ballad "Judas", the album tackles faith and devotion as relating to humanity, as opposed to religiously.
One of the album's biggest strengths is the larger contribution from each member; Martin L. Gore's writing is more refined, Alan Wilder's arrangements are borderline perfection, and Dave Gahan's vocals are his best and most organic. He really lets loose on tracks like the bouncy rocker "Mercy In You" and the epic "Higher Love".
Epic is a word often used (especially in this review) to describe this album, and it is because the sounds are so powerful that this might even be thought of as a sonic concept album, as the mood and pacing are so well synched.
The Martin L. Gore sung "Judas" progresses into the large build up of "In Your Room", which is widely believed to be one of the band's best tracks. All those doubting the band's change in image can look right to that track, all the band's trademarks --- swirling synths, fierce beats, and Gahan's emotional vocals--- are all here.
The band's production also shows an improvement on that of "Violator" by Flood with songs like the hip-hop flavored "Get Right With Me" and the rave pace of "Rush".
Sure, the band show some modern influences (Nine Inch Nails, Grunge rock), but this album is not at all a sell out (which some argue due to its #1 charting). This album is all Depeche Mode, all emotion, and you could not call yourself a fan of the band without owning it.
For those of you that love rock, pop, synth, or all combined, you can find it here, in one of the most inspiring albums of the 90's.
on May 16, 2006
While this is The Album that pushed DM (and Alan Wilder) over the emotional edge, the tension certainly wasn't put to waste. I truly hated this album upon first hearing. After riding the sweet aural waves of "Black Celebration", "Music For The Masses" and "Violator", nothing could be farther from that bliss than "SOFAD". I did find, however, that as I matured, so did my taste for the subject matter on this album. The lyrics are from the heart. The production and sounds are rich & layered. Gahan's vocals have true grit, hardship & pain. You simply cannot fake this. Put your headphones on and listen to this album in it's entirety. You'll likely hear something different every time you do. 13 years later and I'm still discovering the intricacies of this great album.
What does it take to followup an album considered, by many, to be the ultimate work of one's career and still be able to outdo it? Bands have been trying to answer that question successfully since practically the beginning. After having one of the biggest and best experiences of their lives with 1990s Violator, Depeche Mode were asking themselves that very same question. The last thing they wanted to do was repeat themselves and make Violator II. But the daunting task of coming up with their-then next album would end up taking its toll almost to the point of complete annihilation.
The compared studio working atmosphere between making Violator and making Songs Of Faith And Devotion was as different as night and day. On Violator, everything that could go right, did. Even ideas or insights that were initially discouraged were done so in a positive way. The band were a full-fledged unit, working together creatively and collectively, and it was a great time to be had by all. Working on Songs Of Faith And Devotion, on the other hand, was a complete and utter nightmare. The constant arguments and disagreements over everything and anything. The psychological breakdowns into severe depression and self medications. The once united bandmates were now single entities, working on their own, unable to reach that common ground they had found so easily only a few years earlier. This was Depeche Mode at their very darkest.
And yet through all the pain, agony and hardship, an album, that seemed destined for massive destruction, emerged from the depths of despair, that many, including the band themselves, consider one of their best works. From the classic opening of I Feel You, into the dark and relenting journey of Walking In My Shoes, to the soulful Condemnation, with a strong and mesmerizing lead vocal by Dave Gahan that he considers "the best contribution I made to the making of this album," into the seductive decadence of In Your Room, and all the way through to Higher Love...the Mode had turned darkness into magic and light all over again. A feat that would result in a #1 album on the billboard charts in both the US & UK, as well as many other countries.
But there was little time to celebrate, as the Devotional Tour would begin and never seem to ever end for the band. Over 150 shows all across the globe. Playing to more than 2 million people. No real rest...just constant partying and performing, day and night. The casualties would soon start coming in. Andrew Fletcher's massive fight with depression finally took its toll and he was forced to leave the tour early. Dave's heroin addiction and an ideology of himself as a rock God on his way towards the downward spiral, helped to fuel his decision on an attempted suicide. Martin's constant drinking with his own personal demons, that seemed as if they would never relent. And Alan...who would make the decision that would change Depeche Mode forever...quitting the band for good. It all seemed like the beginning of the end for a group of people who had been together, at that time, for over a decade.
As we all know now, this was not to be the end, but merely a new beginning. This Remastered CD of Songs Of Faith And Devotion is yet another great sounding experience for every fan to cherish and enjoy. And the DTS and 5.1 Surround Sound found on the DVD is sure to be a trip you will take again and again, with amazing clarity. The UK version also includes a Super Audio Compact Disc layer (SACD) on the CD that is also a wonderful experience to listen to (sadly, the US versions of these Remastered Depeche Mode albums do not contain the SACD).
Also included on the DVD are a plethora of bonus tracks and remixes, including the B-sides: My Joy & Death's Door, and the superior sounding Zephyr Mix of In Your Room. No live tracks for this release, perhaps indicating a future release of Songs Of Faith And Devotion Live (perhaps in more complete form?).
But the best bonus of all is the amazing and outstanding 36 minute Short Film - Depeche Mode: 1991-1994 - "We Were Going To Live Together, Record Together, And It Was Going To Be Wonderful" - A.Wilder. In my opinion, this is the best of the Depeche Mode short films, and gives the viewer the unique experience of following the band through the darkest period of their career, through vintage film of the studio & tour work as well as with interviews by Dave, Martin, Andy, and Alan, as well as producer, Flood, Mute's own Daniel Miller, and others, recreating the experiences. And the last few shots of Alan, as he explains his decision for leaving the band are reason enough for checking this film out again and again. Simply Amazing.
Songs Of Faith And Devotion (Remastered) - A Classic, New & Improved!
"When Here In My Mind, I Have Been Blind. Emotionally Behind. I Have Faith I Will Find." M.L.Gore
on March 16, 2003
"Violator" represented Depeche Mode's commercial peak but in my opinion, it's their follow-up "Songs of Faith and Devotion" that I consider their creative peak. Depeche Mode's multi-platinum success with "Violator" left many fans anticipating a possible sequel to that following four hit singles off that album. However, Depeche Mode by no means were in the mood to create a "Violator Part 2". Instead, their 1993 opus "Songs Of Faith & Devotion" was a complete change in style from their "Violator" album, by incorporating a more guitar-based texture, borrowing some elements of the grunge movement going on during the time of this album's release but still, even with a tiny dabbling of grunge elements, this album has a completely different feel from any of the great rock albums that came out during that trend. This album doesn't even sound dated at all. Much of their music has aged a lot better than a lot of their contemporaries.
The music is much rougher, harder edged and much darker and more eerie than "Violator" in a way. The scratching record sound effect at the beginning of the opening track "I Feel You" definitely was the final nail in the coffin of their 1980s sound. The album also would foreshadow the destruction, and downward spiral that the band would go in, following this period of their career, with Gahan almost losing his life but recovering, before bouncing back after with "Ultra" and that kind of gives this album an even darker mood. There's a very strong sense of self-loathing, and tension within the album and it showcased the tension that would ultimately result in Alan Wilder calling it quits with the band in 1995 to focus on Recoil. Many fans sadly dismissed this album as too different but for me, I completely embraced the change as it is in fact, among the strongest albums that Depeche Mode has ever made. I would even go far as to say that I like this better than "Violator" or "Exciter" but not as much as "Black Celebration", and it ties with "Music For The Masses" and "Ultra" as my second favorite record of theirs.
For me, it's hard to exactly rank their albums besides their 1986 masterpiece "Black Celebration" but that's alright as their post-1983 albums have so much great music that it propels them to about the same level of greatness, beauty, darkness, and intelligence. I don't understand why so many seem to hate this album. Gee, would you rather listen to the popcorn of "Boys Say Go" over "Walking In My Shoes"? I don't think so. No offense to the former. There are a couple of speed bumps though along the wrecking journery, even though there aren't any filler on this album. "Condemnation" sounds too mellow and too Gospel, bluesy, and feels out of place on here but it's still a good song. "One Caress", while a good song musically, feels highly out of place on this album against the rock-edged songs, especially against "I Feel You", and "Rush". Despite its misplaced feel, "One Caress" is yet a great song.
The whole album as a whole has a dark and beautiful sense of traveling along a busy and winding road through the city on a turbulent stormy evening, especially with "Walking In My Shoes" and "Higher Love", both of which build to unspeakable climaxes and the latter echoes away, leaving me wanting even more. "Mercy In You" is the prime example of the stormy atmosphere that I'm talking about with it's bizarre, rocking sound and then it's haunting ambience during the climax and then fading into keyboard dabblings and fading out. "Judas" gets my nod as the most unsettling classic on the entire album. It starts with deathlike Uillean pipes and giving a sense of a fiery sunset evening before becoming an ominous and droning song with wobbly guitars and echoing beat and building up into an intense orchestral climax, like something's about to happen. "Rush" almost starts treading into Nine Inch Nails territory with it's ominous and harsh electronic production reminiscent of Flood.
Casual fans or those who like their 1980s albums may not come to liking this album a whole lot due to its heavy style and dark-edged style but those who are striving to hear something different and dark, this album is a definite must have and should be in every true DM fans collection. I would even go far as to say that it's better than "Violator" at times, due to it's highly creative, intense, and somewhat frightening atmosphere but from my perspective, it's a sexy scare and that is what makes some albums so incredibly powerful. This album is by all means an essential need and I ask that all fans of true music and art to go and get this album. Depeche Mode would go into a new change in sound with 1997's "Ultra", also an essential masterpiece. Depeche Mode remain a strong and consistent band to this very day and continue to put out a string of great albums.
on August 5, 2005
I bought this CD some time ago - it kinda just sat on a shelf. Last spring, I rediscovered it while going through a personally challenging time. I couldn't articulate how I felt, but didn't have to thanks to this CD. Like many of us, they are interested in God and here they explore this concept in song. The standout track for me on this CD is "In Your Room" - hauntingly beautiful but desolate. And who can't relate to "Walking in My Shoes" (let he who is without sin cast the first stone)? There's one word to describe the song "Rush" - POWER! Okay, the song is somewhat "menacing" in tone, but it will certainly get your attention. I have lots of other DM CDs, but this one's my favorite.
on March 28, 2004
I am a chill, nonconfrontational guy. But when I see people dissing this album here on Amazon, my blood boils and I want a way to meet them and have a very heated conversation disagreeing with them and telling them they are complete and utter idiots for not liking the album. It is Depeche Mode's best work to date. The sound has not aged at all, and if it was released today, no one would raise eyebrows wondering if it was really made in present time. The entire sound is completely original and unique. Everything comes together...guitar, synth, vocals, everything. The sound is incredibly edgy and melodic and amazing at the same time. Just incredible. The music has true emotion and heart, nothing sounds fake or routine or contrived or badly programmed. It's real and a perfect emotional overflow of genius. Even all the remixed and b-sides from this era are great. The maxi singles are worth your money. As for the album at hand, songs like "Walking In My Shoes," "Mercy In You," "In Your Room," "Rush," and "Higher Love" are my favorites. But everything's great. A+ with a bar on top of the + to make it infinite. Out of 900 something CDs I currently own, this one has been played the most by far. Can never get sick of it, never gets old. Has held its own ever since I bought it when i was 14 back in July of '95. HOLLLAAA. Once again, Depeche Mode's best work. But, if you're new to Depeche Mode, I actually recommend starting with Black Celebration and Music For The Masses, then Violator, and then this album. This will give you the chance to see a progression. Then buy some earlier albums like A Broken Frame, Construction Time Again, and Some Great Reward, to see where they truly started, and then buy their later albums like Ultra and Exciter. Finish your buying off with 101 and everything else they have released. As far as Speak & Spell...ehhh...Vince Clarke...let's just say he's no Martin Gore...I consider the TRUE Depeche Mode starting with A Broken Frame. But there are still come catchy tunes on Speak & Spell and I'm not dissing Vince, he's done a lot for music. But it's not the dark and edgy Depeche Mode we all love. HOLLLAAA.
on July 24, 2000
If Jesus (not meant to be taken offensively, I myself am a devout Christian) were alive today this might be a few of his words on life and the bad things that can happen. To me, after extensive listening (probably 200+ times), I think this to be the best album I've ever heard. The lyrics seem to be written from the perspective of Jesus and the criminals (being crucified) at the time of their death. They explore the elements of life that aren't so good. For instance, about not knowing how it feels to be another person (Walking in my shoes), Being crucified for your wrongdoing as the criminals with Jesus were (Condemnation), your soul and your not so happy life (Mercy in You and Judas), deep depression over someone you love (In Your Room), sick, sadistic love (Rush), and the darkest aspect of a force unknown (Higher Love). The songwriting and spooky minor (as in, minor the musical term like major, minor, flat etc.)keys used to write in, and strange sounds that put images of hell right in to your mind paint the picture. The most depressed, serious, haunting album one will ever listen to. A poetic, creepy, religious, experience. Martin Gore, Dave Gahan, Alan Wilder, and Andy Fletcher at their best. This album, perfectly is the dark life and will always be my FAVORITE album ever. There is only one album this could be..........the perfectly titled SONGS OF FAITH AND DEVOTION....
on January 30, 2004
Songs of Faith and Devotion is Depeche Mode's second official 90's release. The first being "Violator" released in early 1990. Violator is complimented by "Songs" quite well.
Where the previous album was more synthesizers, this one is more emphasized on guitars. The songwriting for Songs was also equally as crafted as on Violator. Again, DM teams with hit producer Flood (Mark Ellis) (who's worked with NIN, Pop Will Eat Itself, and U2 and produced Depeche Mode's Violator). Songs lives up to it's general idea as DM did with Violator.
A lot had changed in the music scene between 1990 and 1993. Unfortuantely, DM began to encounter problems with drugs and sex, and then the need to have those addcitions revealed and forgiven by God. This was mostly due to DM's obligation to behave as other groups during the early 90's grunge-movement so they could be just as "cool". In my opinion, they needent have done this since they already were cool.
"Rush" sounds like something that NIN helped record and is just as fast-paced and angry.
"Mercy in you" is my favorite song and feels more religous and inspiring than most artists could hope to be. Has that heavy-weighed synth which was evident during Halo.
"I feel you" sounds like a hard version of an INXS song. The guitars are put to the test here, just as they were with Personal Jesus.
"Walking in my Shoes" marks a scar for singer David Gahans pain of drug addiction at the time. Lyricist and Vocalist Martin Gore must've known just how he felt too.
on March 2, 2005
Ever heard music so beautiful, so three dimensional, so layered with emotion, that you could cry? SOFAD will do it for you.
This is not the sequel to Violator, if that's what you were expecting. This is a unique stand alone DM album with a mind of its own. (But so worthy and in need of recognition.) It will take a good getting used to before you fall in love with this album. It took me a good month, and a good understanding of the lyrics before I was truly enlightened. Once you've understood though, you will find yourself completely sucked into this emotional realm of darkness, love, and faith.
With the exception of Condemnation, I love all the songs on this album. Each one takes on its own personality. Dave Gahan's voice is in the expected loud and luscious, but is absolutely the most intriguing, phenominal, and gorgeous that we've ever heard. He becomes a Michael Hutchence (INXS) on I Feel You. Mercy In You, one of my most favourite DM songs, just totally rocks. Higher Love takes me into another dimension. Martin Gore also has a couple of his own numbers. Now is it just me, or does One Caress have that Erasure 2 Ring Circus sound to it? You gotta love it though.
An experimental album for DM, but this is their absolute ultimate best. My most favourite indeed. Why this did not take off? I still have no idea?
People just don't get it...