Underrated Album

Underrated Albums: Depeche Mode- Songs of Faith and Devotion

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Depeche Mode is one of the most intriguing bands of the last 30 plus years. They have never been a band to keep making the same album. They’ve experimented and evolved in a way that is truly astounding. Each album stands out on it’s own. Some are better than others but the true essence of Depeche Mode is in each of their releases. Which brings me to their 1993 album Songs of Faith and Devotion. Following up an album like Violator is never easy but, this is Depeche Mode we are talking about. They followed up their breakthrough album with a record that took chances and showed just how really diverse Depeche Mode is.
Songs of Faith and Devotion is the eighth studio album in the bands catalog and it’s one of their more darker and aggressive albums. This album would be produced by Flood again and was recorded in a rented home which the band built a studio and live and worked in. This album saw the band become very interested in the alternative music that was taking over. Bands like Jane’s Addiction and Soundgarden have been mentioned as key inspirations for the albums sound and style. The making of the album was quite difficult. Growing tensions among band members and drug addiction had caused some very trying times for Depeche Mode. Despite all this, Songs of Faith and Devotion is one of the best pieces of work the band has ever put out. Songs like “Walking In My Shoes,” “I Feel You,” “Condemnation,” In Your Room,” “Rush,” and “Higher Love,” just further prove that this album is truly remarkable. Even with the addiction issues, Dave Gahan’s vocal performances on this album are beyond stellar. Martin Gore, in my opinion, outdid himself with the songs he wrote on this album. Perhaps the growing tensions within the group especially the most strained between drummer Alan Wilder and Gore, helped to make some of the bands best songs. The following promotional tour for the album, The Devotional Tour, would be regarded in the bands history as their most “debauched” rock tour ever. This tour would also be the catalyst for the long break the band took afterwards before they would begin work on their album, Ultra.

Depeche Mode’s catalog is full of so many great albums. Violator is always going to be the one that the “masses” reach for but, the deep fans know there is more than just “Personal Jesus” and “Enjoy The Silence.” Personally for me Songs of Faith and Devotion is in my top 3 favorite Depeche Mode albums (the other two are Music For The Masses and Exciter). There is something truly beautiful about how all the negativity that surrounded the making of this album created a record that surpassed an expectations that people would have. For almost 40 years now, Depeche Mode has proven you don’t need to make the same record twice. Taking chances and evolving in a way that still keeps the essence of the band in tact, has always been key to the bands success, and Songs of Faith and Devotion cements that fact.

 
Depeche Mode- Songs of Faith and Devotion:

 

 

Songs of Faith and Devotion Documentary:

 

Underrated Albums: Sparta- Threes

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One of my favorite things to do is take a day and listen through a bands entire catalog. Yesterday, I was looking for something to listen to and out of the corner of my eye I saw my Sparta collection. So naturally I grabbed all three albums loaded them up in the stereo and proceeded to emerse myself in Sparta’s catalog. Their first album Wiretap Scars has already been established here on Audioeclectica as an unsung masterpiece. Their second album Porcelain is a somber album that takes a little while to really get into. But the album that really wound up striking a chord with me was Threes.

All the songs on this album present a refreshing sense of the band. Vocalist Jim Ward admits he was heavily influenced by Radiohead recording Threes. In the softer parts of the songs you can hear Thom Yorke in the vocals. Whatever it is he is singing, it’s always very passionate. One thing I noticed about Threes is the atmosphere of the album. It’s not the ambience that made Wiretap Scars special, but instead it brings out a new kind of ambience full of gloominess, suffering and other emotional pain. Songs like “Untreatable Disease,” “Crawl,” “Unstitch Your Mouth,” “Erase It Again,” and “The Most Vicious Crime,” all fall into that solemn category.  The first single “Taking Back Control,” is a classic heavy song for Sparta. Other stand out tracks include “Atlas,” “False Start,” “Red.Right.Return,” and closing track “Translations.”

If there is one critique about the album as a whole is that the production is a little too slick. In a way you can tell that the producer tried to expand upon the production sound that helped to make Wiretap Scars sound so good, but used too much compression. Sparta would go on to take a very long break after Threes. They reunited in 2012 for a short tour and also released a new song called “Chemical Feel,” which is equal parts Wiretap era and Threes. Sparta, while only having three albums, really left a quiet mark on the times of the early 2000’s expansion of post-hardcore. I really feel like they still have enough in them for one more solid album. Granted that will all have to come after this current At The Drive-In reunion. So take a listen to Sparta’s Threes and you’ll hear what I’m talking about.

 

Sparta-Threes:

 

Sparta- Chemical Feel: