As many reviewers said, Ultra is one that shouldn't be overlooked by any DM fan and they're right, you shouldn't. This is my 3rd favorite DM album. See all reviews. Top reviews from other countries. As a long-time Depeche Mode fan, it's perhaps no surprise that I would be rating this album with 5 stars. However, this is not blind loyalty.
Ultra was the band's third and final album of the 90's - a decade that saw them go mainstream and global with the release of Violator and then superstar with Songs of Faith and Devotion.
The personal problems that followed that rise are well documented, and by , they'd lost Alan Wilder, the band member who worked hardest on their production to shape the band's sound, and they'd almost lost Dave Gahan, after a heroin overdose meant he died for a few minutes.
At the same time, songwriter Martin Gore was an alcoholic and with his own drug problems and Andy Fletcher had to leave the last tour with anxiety issues. To cap it all off, the three remaining band members weren't particular good at speaking to each other. Not many expected a new album. And when it did arrive, it came with stories of needing to record songs seven times to stitch together a single usable take Sister of Night , and a further breakdown - this time of the producer Tim Simenon.
But what they produced, against the odds, and perhaps unsurprisingly is one of their darkest and most heartfelt albums. Lead single and album starter Barrel of a Gun is a snarling, sneering riposte full of bitterness that fires backs at critics personal as well as public.
Home is perhaps the greatest ballad Martin has written, when he was coming to terms with the fact that he might actually not make it.
Sister of Night is haunting and balletic, Useless bombastic and heavy. The final track, Insight, returns listeners back to a more hopeful future. This is an album that rewards repeated listens. But its also one that speaks to the fear and desolation you can feel when you're at your lowest ebb. It is a piece of art that describes that moment, and that feeling, where everything is hopeless. This, for me, was Depeche Mode's lowest point, but they've since come back out the other side and continue to make music.
If you're interested in understanding Depeche Mode, this is an important chapter - and one that should not be missed. It is rare that any band can keep up their form for three successive albums without losing a few folk on the way. Depeche Mode are no different in this respect.
However, I firmly believe that there are a zillion ways that a band can do this whilst still maintaining their creativity and grace. I am happy to say, Depeche Mode have managed it here. Mute Records. Hung Medien.
Retrieved 8 January Retrieved 26 February GfK Entertainment Charts. DV in Icelandic. ISSN — via Timarit. Archived from the original on 7 December Official Charts Company.
Offizielle Deutsche Charts. Archived from the original on 14 June Archived from the original on 10 December Retrieved 12 January Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
Over the course of a few years, one or two albums place them at the pinnacle of public, and often critical, acceptance. Then the rest of their careers are spent in denouement, either re-adjusting to a less massive but more manageable popularity, or fruitlessly and embarrassingly chasing the past.
Usually this trajectory can be seen clearly only in hindsight. For example, at the time, did Smashing Pumpkins know that Machina would come to be viewed as a desperate grab at the alchemical combination of rock energy and eccentric whimsy they had concocted on Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness? Thus, they were able to re-adjust successfully and avoid some of the internal and external difficulties that slowly kill many bands.
But in many ways, Depeche Mode in had no choice but to put the success of Violator and the excess of Songs of Faith and Devotion into perspective. Depeche Mode - singer Dave Gahan, songwriter Martin Gore and "backbone" Andy Fletcher - have survived personal and professional upheavals, including the departure of Alan Wilder and Gahan's much publicised drugs busts and rehabilitation, to make the most diverse, engaging and exhilarating album of their 17 years together.
Including the hit singles 'Barrel Of A Gun' and 'It's No Good', 'Ultra' unveils a sophisticated soundscape that draws influence from contemporary dance, gospel, blues and even country sources. In the words of Dave Gahan: "I think it's true to say there's elements of every kind of music in Depeche Mode, and that's what's unique about us is that we don't limit ourselves to one area.
We listen to styles that compliment that song and take it to that place rather than sticking to a format. Once more turning his pen to matters of the frailties in human relationships 'It's No Good', 'Useless' , predetermined fate 'Barrel Of A Gun' , alienation 'Sister Of Night' and redemption 'Home' , Martin Gore has created broad and evocative songs for Gahan to fully dramatise.
With Tim Simenon at the controls, the brooding and sensual dance aesthetic that Gore's original demos first brought to mind has been fully realised.
Even so, fired by a restless imagination, the band also step out on a limb for the intriguing, Martin Denny-esque 'Jazz Thieves', the blues drenched 'Freestate' and the gospel noir of 'The Bottom Line'. As Tim Simenon enthuses: "Martin's an amazing songwriter and I want people to take their hat off to him. Dave Gahan considers his vocal performances on 'Ultra' to be the best of his career: "They really take you to a place, wherever that place may be, and they take you on a journey, tell you a story and you listen, you know, it draws you in.
Full track listing for 'Ultra' is as follows:. Barrel Of A Gun. It's No Good. Barcode: 5 And I might've gotten arrested again or something like that. I think there was a feeling of us having to prove ourselves, a bit like after when Vince left.
It gave us a new challenge and I think in some ways it's spurred on us to do better things. I felt a big part of what we were doing was missing - a leader, musically, and for me Alan was that. The others would say he was too controlling, but he just worked his arse off because he really believed in it and the idea of pushing himself musically, which you can hear on his own records. I find that really inspiring. I miss him.
The Jam All Around The World cw Carnaby Street, Canned Heat Hallelujah, Jean Pierre Rampal Claude Bolling Suite For Flute And Jazz Piano, Tom Petty The Heartbreakers Let Me Up Ive Had Enough, Pauline Rogers Im Just A Woman Ive Been Pretending Everythings All Right">