Depeche Mode / Spirit [Deluxe Edition]

Spirit [Explicit]

Depeche Mode /dˌpɛʃˈmd/ are an English electronic band that formed in 1980 in Basildon, Essex. The group consists of founders Dave Gahan (lead vocals, occasional songwriter since 2005), Martin Gore (guitar, keyboards, vocals, main songwriter since 1982), and Andy Fletcher (keyboards, bass guitar). Depeche Mode released their debut album Speak & Spell in 1981, bringing the band onto the British new wave scene. Original band member Vince Clarke (keyboards, guitar, main songwriter from 1980 to 1981), left the band after the release of the album, leaving the band as a trio to record A Broken Frame, released the following year. Gore took over the lead songwriting duties and, later in 1982, Alan Wilder (keyboards, drums, bass guitar, occasional songwriter) officially joined the band to fill Clarke’s spot, establishing a line up that would continue for the next 13 years. Depeche Mode have been a trio again since 1995, when Wilder left.

The band’s last albums of the 1980s, Black Celebration and Music for the Masses, established them as a dominant force on the mainstream electronic music scene. A highlight of this era was the band’s concert at the Pasadena Rose Bowl, where they drew a crowd in excess of 70,000 people. In the new decade, Depeche Mode released Violator, a mainstream success. The subsequent album, Songs of Faith and Devotion, and the supporting Devotional Tour exacerbated tensions within the band to the point where Alan Wilder quit in 1995, leading to intense media and fan speculation that the band would split. Now a trio once again, the band released Ultra in 1997, recorded at the height of Gahan’s near-fatal drug abuse, Gore’s alcoholism and seizures, and Fletcher’s depression. The release of Exciter confirmed Depeche Mode’s willingness to remain together, the subsequent, and very successful, Exciter Tour being their first tour in support of an original album in eight years since the Devotional Tour, although the band had toured in 1998 to support The Singles 86–98 compilation album.

Depeche Mode have had 50 songs in the UK Singles Chart and thirteen top 10 albums in the UK chart; they have sold over 100 million records worldwide.

Spirit is the fourteenth studio album by the English electronic music band Depeche Mode, released on 17 March 2017 through Columbia Records. It was preceded by the single “Where’s the Revolution“.  Spirit is the band’s second album released under Columbia. Depeche Mode recorded it with new producer James Ford.

The Analysis—-

Going Backwards—-With trepidation and excitement, I hit the play button on a long awaited release. The opening strains are very guitar based….little in the way of swirls and synths until the song progresses. Dave Gahan enters with his trademark baritone and gives the song a very bleak feel….aided by the darker than dark lyrics and general lack of optimism. The song speaks vividly to the current times wonderfully well….a nice beginning.

Where’s The Revolution?—-The first proper release from the album, this lead off single is not much brighter in terms of musical landscape or lyrical content. The familiar Depeche Mode synth sounds are here…the gentle ‘creaking’ found in many of their songs. Gahan spreads his words out in long wails……then the song opens up with a huge anthemic chorus that inspires and begs people to pay attention to the things going on around them. This is fantastic…..the train is coming…..get on board!!!

The Worst Crime—-Keyboard based with a gentle and sad vocal at the onset, the musical landscape sounds bleak and naked. The feeling of the song is so stark and lacking any defining synth line…instead the music produces a thick, dark and lonely fog for you to dig your way out of…..not a favorite track…the plodding goes on a bit to long.

Scum—-With a bit of a livelier synth line, Dave enters with a distorted almost Industrial style vocal that is run through a processor. the lyrical content on this entire release is very dark and intense. I wonder who this song could be directed to….this entire album has huge political overtones.

You Move—-Continuing in the same vein as the rest of this release, the strains of this song lack any real musical bright spots…the sound is very layered and dark. The chorus enters and the strains of the synth are a bit livelier…and Gahan has moved into the upper register of his voice….as the track continues it does have bright poppy moments….much needed at this point.

Cover Me—-Filled with a bleak edge to it at the onset, this is airy despite the dark feeling of the lyrics. The synth effects give off a gentle puff of fog as it enters the landscape of the song…Gahan sounds sad and tortured here. The song left me feeling sad and lonely…but somehow hopeful. Really nice.

Eternal—-This comes from the fog with an almost Church like synth line…Gahan sings almost in acapella fashion as the music is so stark and naked. The sadness and intensity of the lyrics and vocals leave me in a less than bright place in my own psyche…Not a favorite track…..a bit too intense.

Poison Heart—-I like this right from the onset…..although the music is full of plodding beats and mundane synth lines, the vocal…delivered at that higher tone gives the song a brighter feel. at some points in the song, the synth lines threaten to become a bit noisy…..how magical. A really great effort from the Kings Of Gloom!

So Much Love—-Jaunty and noisy, this is a nice surprise right out of the gate, Gahan almost struts with his vocal…I can see him now! This is a fantastic track…I predict this could be the second single. The synth lines are excellent…little blips and beeps appear from nowhere and what sounds like a female vocal on the chorus gives the song a nice body. This is a favorite…really great effort.

Poorman—-This has a nice intro sound that hearkens back to the earlier days of the band. Gahan enters again with a vocal that seem a bit manipulated as do the guitars that are heard. This speaks to poverty…the daily grind of street people and the battles they face on a regular basis. This is social awareness put to music. Brilliant.

No More [This Is The Last Time]—-Although this has a dark tone to it, the airy synth line and the big chorus line gives a remarkable life to the song…this is in contention as another single I think. Gahan sounds rested and in the best voice I have heard him in a very long time. This is a truly brilliant, classic Depeche Mode track,

Fail—-Rounding out the proper release with another stark and almost naked rack, Gahan sings in a pleasant croon that tries to belie the meaning and feel of the song. This is dark and leaves you a bit hopeless….question as you do everyday the meaning of our lives…where we have been and where we might end up, Sometimes the ‘croon’ on the vocal makes me think of classic Bowie.

Cover Me [Alt Out]—-A bit more jaunty and synth laden, this is nice. The blips and the beeps that ride over the top of the foggy synth line are really nice…gives the song a much fuller body than the original. with just wisps of the vocal on the song….this is a phenomenal instrumental journey….EXCELLENT!!!

Scum [Frenetic Mix]—-again, this track becomes much livelier in a remixed form. The synth lines like quick, sharp snaps of a whip at your backside. There are times where everything falls away and the song sounds completely naked…but over-all…I love the sound of this…stark yet powerful.

Poison Heart [Tripped Mix]—-Ominous and dense with toy piano sounds introduce the song….Gahan is back with a vocal on this remix,,,sounding even more manipulated and dense then ever. This is layered with coat after coat of the blackest paint you can find. Not a favorite track…but it is pretty true to form.

Fail [Cinematic Mix]—-Full of static and magnificent darkness, the song has these little slivers of light that magically shine through the trees in the deep woods…giving direction and hope. This is wonderfully thick with sound and reverb. A masterful remix.

So Much Love [Machine Mix]—-Again, a bit of a livelier introduction than the original…the song seems stuck on a never ending loop that takes forever to begin. slowly new sounds and wisps of vocal are introduced…but overall…the song is dense in effects and lacks a true brightness. I don’t hate this…but I would pass over it during a casual listen.

**** out of 5

 

 

 

Loudwire.com 2016 Metal Album Of The Year—-Devin Townsend Project / Transcendence

Transcendence

Devin Garrett Townsend (born May 5, 1972) is a Canadian musician, songwriter and record producer. He was the founder, songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist in extreme metal band Strapping Young Lad from 1994 to 2007 and has an extensive career as a solo artist.

After performing in a number of heavy metal bands in high school, Townsend was discovered by a record label in 1993 and was asked to perform lead vocals on Steve Vai‘s album Sex & Religion. After recording and touring with Vai, Townsend was discouraged by what he found in the music industry, and vented his anger on the solo album Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing released under the pseudonym Strapping Young Lad. He soon assembled a band under the name, and released the critically acclaimed City in 1997. Since then, he has released three more studio albums with Strapping Young Lad, along with solo material released under his own independent record label, HevyDevy Records.

Townsend’s solo albums, a diverse mix of hard rock, progressive metal, ambient, and new-age, have featured a varying lineup of supporting musicians. In 2002 he formed the Devin Townsend Band, a dedicated lineup which recorded and toured for two of his solo releases. In 2007, he disbanded both Strapping Young Lad and the Devin Townsend Band, taking a break from touring to spend more time with his family. After a two-year hiatus, he began recording again, and soon announced the formation of the Devin Townsend Project. The project began with a series of four albums, released from 2009 to 2011, each written in a different style, and Townsend continues to record and tour under the new moniker.

Across all his bands and projects, Townsend has released twenty-three studio albums and three live albums. Townsend’s trademark production style, featuring a heavily multitracked wall of sound, has been compared to the styles of Phil Spector and Frank Zappa. His versatile vocal delivery ranges from screaming to an opera-esque singing, and his songwriting is similarly diverse. Townsend’s musical style is rooted in metal, and his albums are written to express different aspects of his personality.

Transcendence is the seventeenth studio album by Canadian musician Devin Townsend, and the seventh album in the Devin Townsend Project series. It was released on September 9, 2016 via HevyDevy Records.

The Analysis—-

Truth—-Brilliant and bright at the onset, this will actually be my first excursion with this band. The sound, for me is rather epic and filled with all the sounds that attract me to darker musical entities. I love this thus far…it is accessible…but enough out of the mainstream to keep me interested. This is so layered and textured I can only define it as beautiful right at the beginning…..this is incredible.

Stormbending—-With a bit more of a powerful punch to the music, the vocal enters and sucks me into a pleasant vortex I never want to climb out of. This is certainly different than Strapping Young Lad….this is experimental…progressive and damn articulate. I am in love….literally amazing!

Failure—-Again with a pleasant and accessible intro, this seems to cross all genre boundary lines. This is so easy to listen to…but still maintains a perfect mix or rock and experimentation to catch everyone’s attention. the vocal is exquisite….soaring and crashing and literally becoming one with the music. This is sublime….wonderful and damn addictive.

Secret Sciences—-Bright with a layered sound of instrumentation, the guitar and the vocal enters and almost takes me out of my body. The vocal is so damn pleasant and accessible….I just keep wondering why this band is not huge all over the world. I’m not even sure you could define this music as Metal……it IS very progressive and beautiful though.

Higher—-Stark and filled with beautiful acoustic guitar and melodies that threaten to make me weep like a little girl…I am just amazed that I have not invested more time with this band. The song becomes more powerful…but never loses the beauty and construction that started the entire thing off. This is just phenomenal…I sit here in awe….

Stars—-Almost seeming to be part of the previous song, the melody line is very familiar but still utterly addictive and filled with a beautiful resonance. This is a spectacular record…a true journey through the mind of what I think must be a musical genius. I can’t understand how this got past me…..I love this man.

Transcendence—-This trio of songs fit together like a glove in a gloved hand. Epic and beautiful….the songs are like a journey through space and time…I can find no fault with anything on this release…the movements are just incredible….I love this so much…..I can’t say enough good things about the epic nature of these compositions.

Offer Your Light—-A bit more aggressive musically,  this song is much faster and soars above my head with an incredible beauty. The vocal is so superb….I can’t get over the slight aggression but the subtle beauty of the whole thing…this is a journey….fantastic and littered with enough melodies to stick in your head for days.

From The Heart—-Again….the brightness of the music threatens to bring me to tears….I have not heard such incredible beauty and meticulous song construction in a very long time. This is a huge epic track….it feels so big and large to me…I love the power chords that hearken back to power metal days of the 80’s….a melody and chorus that inspires lighters in the air….and a vocal that is so accessible it should be on radio.

Transdermal Celebration—-Amazing…..this band can even take a Ween song and turn it into something full of beauty and pleasant feelings. I intend on buying everything I can get my hands on…..I fully encourage you to do the same…..a truly beautiful journey this one.

***** [!!!!!] out of 5

 

 

 

 

Loudwire.com 2015 Metal Album Of The Year—-Iron Maiden / Book Of Souls

The Book of Souls

The Book of Souls is the sixteenth studio album by English heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released on 4 September 2015. It is the band’s first studio double album, and therefore also their longest to date, with a total length of 92 minutes. Its launch and supporting tour were delayed to allow vocalist Bruce Dickinson time to recover from the removal of a cancerous tumor in early 2015.

Produced by long-time Iron Maiden collaborator Kevin Shirley, The Book of Souls was recorded at Guillaume Tell Studios, Paris from September to December 2014, which they had previously used for 2000’s Brave New World. The band wrote and immediately recorded many tracks in the studio, resulting in a spontaneous live feel. The album’s first release, “Speed of Light“, was issued as a music video on 14 August, and simultaneously as a digital download and CD single exclusive to Best Buy. In addition to being their longest studio record, it also contains the band’s longest song, “Empire of the Clouds“, at 18 minutes in length, which was also issued as a single for Record Store Day on 16 April 2016. While not a concept album, references to the soul and mortality are prominent, realized in the Maya-themed cover artwork, created by Mark Wilkinson.

The Analysis—-

Disc One:

If Eternity Should Fail—-Coming out of the darkness with an eerie hum, Dickinson emerges with a lone vocal that adds to the slow build and atmosphere of the track. I’m sure everyone had baited breath wondering how the voice would sound after the cancer battle…but it sounds better than ever. It isn’t long before the Harris bass line brings the song to life….the vocal line huge and bringing mysticism and power to the track. With a damn catchy chorus, this is classic Maiden.

Speed Of Light—-With no huge introduction this track, what you are greeted with is a huge banshee scream from Bruce that is incredible in power and volume. The musical power is incredible….the energy level very high. The prominent bass line takes a bit of a backseat on this track…allowing for a more straight forward metal track. At times, Dickinson seems to strain…but have no doubt…next to Rob Halford…..one of the best Metal singers in history. The drums are excellent on this track…as well as the barrage of guitars. This just has a HUGE sound.

The Great Unknown—-A full  return to the heavy bass line of Steve Harris, Dickinson enters with his vocal….wrapping around your brain with symbolism and mysticism. The track takes a bit to open up….slowly building with typical fanfare and anticipation. Finally the proper song commences but does not seem quit as epic as promised. I like this….it is Maiden after all…but not quite as huge as promised.The guitars are really nice on this track though….the twin attack…actually triple attack…..sounds huge.

The Red And The Black—-Seemingly to build off the previous track, the bass line that greets you is almost acoustic and Spanish in sound…for the first 20 seconds! The the galloping Maiden sound propels the song forward at a nice speed and level of anticipation. The lead from Gers is fantastic….can you say ‘glory days’? This is classic Maiden….the sound and the mood takes me back to the earlier releases.

When The River Runs Deep—-Higher in instrumental tone and straight forward right off the bat, Dickinson delivers a stellar vocal that is without fail. The mood of the track shifts and takes shape as it progresses…there are some nice double track vocals which are rare on their recordings. The ‘chorus’ has a musical downshift sound to it that makes the entire thing play a bit odd to me…but it is a welcome break…something different to provide variety.

The Book Of Souls—-Again with the Spanish flavor from the guitar intro? This track takes a bit to get going but when it does…I smile. The sound of the band is deeper and more plodding than normal. Dickinson delivers very dark lyrics….the words he writes are like a vivid picture book. The ‘chorus’is huge….offered with a catchy hook and a stellar vocal. This delivers as only a title track should. This is 100% classic Maiden! Well worth the wait.

Disc Two:

Death Or Glory—-At the onset,this track sounded a bit muddled to me…the clear and concise tones were drowned out by the deep bass tones of Harris. Dickinson delivers a vocal that lightens things up a bit and Adrian Smith adds backdrop vocals to make the song even larger. This is typical Maiden fare…..mayhem and battles and tales of adversity.

Shadows Of The Valley—-One of my favorite tracks on this release….I love the urgency of the music….it drives the song forward….line after line and word after word. The drums are incredible….I don’t think Maiden drum get enough credit…its all about Harris and Dickinson. This has nice mood shifts…the lyrics are perfect….the song has a dark edge….true Metal for me.When the band all sings together,it is a huge free for all!!!

Tears Of A Clown—-With a propulsive progressive intro, the song seems like is is dragged like a tugboat into itself. The excitement dies down a bit with the entrance of a remarkably clear vocal from Bruce. This is a nice break from the previous two tracks…this has a different sound to it…I love this song.

The Man Of Sorrows—-A soaring, almost beautiful lead guitar ushers in this track…..with the vocal following soon after…with clarity and sincerity. This is really nice…showcasing the recovered voice remarkably well. The ability to match the vocals with the music is a talent. When the song opens up a bit, it becomes even larger and darker…..even though Bruce is pushed to the back a bit…you can catch every word. The galloping Maiden sound returns and you have a full fledged classic track.

Empire Of The Clouds—-At over 18 minutes in length, this is practically a mini album in itself. This combines all of the great parts of this release and makes it into one huge song. A bit overblown but none the less epic, this is a nice ending to a superb release. Moody and full of many movements, this track plays much faster than you would imagine…despite all the musical interludes…there are few breaks…the song stands on its own two feel very well. This is moody and huge.

**** out of 5

Loudwire.com 2014 Metal Album Of The Year—-Behemoth / The Satanist

The Satanist

Behemoth is a Polish blackened death metal band from Gdańsk, formed in 1991. They are considered to have played an important role in establishing the Polish extreme metal underground.

Until the late 1990s, the band played a traditional black metal style with heathen lyrical content, but soon changed to that of occult and thelemic themes written by their lead vocalist Nergal and Krzysztof Azarewicz. With the 1999 release of Satanica, the band demonstrated their presence in the death metal scene, while retaining their own signature style characterized by the drum work of Inferno, multi-layered vocals and Middle-Eastern influences. Despite Behemoth having been labeled as death metal or thrash metal-influenced, Nergal has mentioned that he does not like the band to be labeled.

The Satanist is the tenth album by Polish extreme metal band Behemoth. The album was announced on 31 May 2013 and released on February 3, 2014 through Nuclear Blast and on February 4 in Poland via Metal Blade Records and Mystic Production, respectively. Release was preceded by digital download single “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” and 12″ EP under the same title released on December 4, 2013.

The Analysis—-

Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel—-A favorite band of mine for a very long time, there is little in my eyes these guys go ever do wrong. Nergal came back from his leukemia battle sounding huge and more possessed than ever. The music is dark, dense and layered with sounds….the voice comes at you from the dark with natural…not forced…evil overtones. This is a huge epic release…..the intro song just sets you up for the incredible journey to follow.

Furor Divinus—-Right from the onset, the sound of this track is a bit muddier and dark. The drums are incredible….the rest of the instruments all seem to play to there own song which makes this sound layered, textured and almost like pure mayhem. Meanwhile the vocal slides over the top of everything with dark and evil overtones that make you feel as if you are going mad. Stellar in every way.

Messe Noire—-With loud and raucous odes to Satan, the vocal smacks you in the face from the very first note. After the first bar or so, the song takes off at a pace that literally leaves you breathless and shaking your head in amazement. This is so dark…it’s light and intense. I love this band. Nergal has never sounded more driven or possessed by his message.

Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer—-With an actual build up to the vocal, I find myself waiting with baited breath for the mayhem to commence. Once the drums kick in at hyper drive, the vocal is right there to tell you about the glories and redeeming powers of Lucifer. Driven through this dark tunnel your mind almost begs for light….but instead you drive deeper into the tunnel….just incredible.

Amen—-Incredibly fast drums and a bass line from hell smack yo in the face from the very first notes….with a slight downshift in the music, the vocal enters and then everything kicks back p again leaving you in a trail of black dust. The puked vocal is so intense I fear I could lose my mind….but the loss would be so magnificent at the hands of this band.

The Satanist—-A bleak and dark tone introduces this track…leaving you a bit confused by the calm nature of the whole thing….although the sound is huge and epic. The plodding feel of the music is offset by incredible drums and a static lead guitar line that still leaves the mind breathless. The vocal enters and sounds less driven than anything else on this release thus far…but the sound is monstrous anyways. The ‘chorus’ of the song has a brilliant melody line that runs through it…..I am always surprised by the brilliance.

Ben Sahar—-Incredibly dark in tone and layered with a bass line melody that makes you want to sway back and forth, the kick drum hits you right in the fuckin forehead. Nergal delivers his patented vocal that magically rides over all of the noise of the instruments and tells his tale of being Satan’s ally. Monstrous and incredible.

In The Absence Ov Light—-BAM!!!!! smacked right in the forehead at the first note, the melody line that is present in this song is incredible…you can pick it up despite everything that is going on around you from the different instruments and the sewer filled vocal of Nergal. The song has downshifts….a gentle almost acoustic guitar line allows for a spoken word verse in Polish that sounds even more evil than it would in English. This is freak in fantastic.

O Father O Satan O Sun!—-Loaded with a remarkable almost accessible melody line right from the first note, this is perhaps my favorite track on this release. The song has everything that made this entire release incredible….darkness…melody…evil…..drums…..a fantastic vocal….a great higher lead guitar line. this is an epic end to a fantastic release.

***** out of 5