When I first heard that Depeche Mode's 13th studio album would be called "Delta Machine", I didn't know what to make of it. It wasn't that I didn't like the title; rather I didn't grasp the meaning. However, once I listened to it and heard the fusion of (delta) blues and electronics (machine) it all made sense. When the band was recording this album Gore and Gahan both noted that it had a synergy of "Violator" and "Songs of Faith & Devotion". Both of these albums are classics in many DM fans' hearts, as well as many music critics. Therefore one could argue that "Delta Machine" has some pretty big shoes to fill. Does Delta Machine really sound like"Violator" and "Songs of Faith & Devotion"? I will revisit this notion shortly....
Before my review I have a disclaimer, I have been a Depeche Mode fan for 20 years. I just saw them this past September for the sixth time, amazing show. I own all their albums, singles, many bootlegs, DVDs, quite a few shirts and framed posters in my house. Depeche Mode (along with U2) has been the soundtrack to my life, as corny as that may sound. So my review might be seen as biased or just following the band on blind faith.
There are a group of Depeche Mode fans who still long for the return of Alan Wilder who left the band in 1995. I for one was sick to my core when he left the group. Nevertheless, I feel that the albums released since Wilder's departure have been really great collections of work. I am well aware of the contributions that Wilder gave the group. Notwithstanding, anyone who is familiar with Depeche Mode's history should be happy the band is still making music. And if they aren't pleased with the music, I am not sure why after 20 years these individuals keep buying "Alan free DM albums".
I wonder if Wilder stayed with the group if this type of music progression might not have happened anyway. Wilder's latest Recoil album had a great deal of blues fussed in the music. In contrast, in the wake of Wilder's departure the band has actually recorded more tracks pure album and Dave Gahan has become more involved in the production of songs. The Alan Wilder debate is just about as heated as the debate of George Lucas and the original Star Wars trilogy. I embrace the notion my words are not going to change many minds, but I feel it would give more credit to my review to note my position.
As for Delta Machine sounding like "Violator" and "Songs of Faith & Devotion", I really don't know if I agree with that statement. Every Depeche album, even the ones with Wilder, is its own musical journey. I see very little overlap sonically in their albums, other than I can tell it is a Depeche Mode album. Nevertheless, if I really had to dig deep I would say the blues influence and some of the lyrics might mirror SOFAD. As for some of the electronics, synths and pace I can see a little bit of "Violator" and even a bit of "Ultra". However, if anyone is hoping for Violator II and/or SOFAD "The Sequel" I believe they will be let down.
"Delta Machine" as a whole is a dark, sexy, haunting and spiritual journey....in other words it is a Depeche Mode album. I think "Heaven" is an amazing track and it didn't bother me at all as a first single. "Soothe My Soul" is a classic DM tune and I look forward to seeing it live later this year. Actually there really isn't any song on this record I dislike; some tracks pop out more than others, but none of the music on this record is poor. I also highly recommend getting the deluxe edition of this album, the bonus tracks are amazing. It is pretty shocking they weren't on the proper release. Then again "Ghost" was just a bonus track from "Sounds of the Universe" and I feel it was one of the strongest songs they recorded for that album.
I must also say that Dave Gahan's writing abilities have continued to bloom. I would say his two solo albums and working with Soulsavers last year has really paid off. "Should Be Higher" I feel is one of the highlights on this album, which again was penned by Gahan as was another favorite "Happens All the Time". I will take this moment to say that Gahan's voice is absolutely fantastic. He really has done different things with his vocals on this record and I love it. He truly is an underrated front man.
As for the packaging of the deluxe album, I am not thrilled about how the CDs are stored. They are packaged in a way where they are prone for scratches. The lyrics and photographs of the band are always welcomed. I really love this album and I think it will mature nicely in their catalogue. Again, I don't view it as sequel to "Violator" or "Songs of Faith & Devotion". I also didn't sit and pick apart the production and long for Alan Wilder while I listened to it. I take it for what it is, a Depeche Mode album from a group of men who have evolved, grown, matured and are in a different place than they were 20 years ago. I would certainly take any song off this record over that Top 40 non-sense. I really hope these guys keep making music. They are legends and if you have a chance to see them live go for it, while you still can.
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
What's your opinion on depeche mode delta machine?