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In the bestselling DM canon, this is one of their very best--mature, Euro-elegant, smartly contemporary (thanks to producer Tim "Bomb the Bass" Simenon), honest ("Insight"), edgy ("Barrel of a Gun"), and armed with at least one killer single in "It's No Good." --Jeff Bateman
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Top Customer Reviews
In Ultra I find again all the elements that made me a Depeche Mode fan back in the 80s: their ability to touch me with the lyrics and the atmospheres created throughout the album, Dave's fantastic voice and interpretation, the beautiful melodies that stick to your head and don't let you go, the musical style so unique to Depeche Mode... There is nothing quite like these guys out there (there never was) and in Ultra they manage to be themselves, but to reinvent themselves so as to not sound the same.
I was not aware of all the problems the band went through during the 90s, but knowing now, I am truly amazed that they could pick themselves up and create this beautiful piece of music. As a reviewer said before me, there's not one song that I don't like in this record. And that is something that had never been the case before: even in masterpieces like Black Celebration or Violator there were tracks that didn't do it for me (although that didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the records). This doesn't happen in Ultra.
It can be argued endlessly about this album not being Violator or Black Celebration. Why expect a Violator clone from a band that has always succeeded in sounding different with each album?Read more ›
Anyway, they made it. And it is true that it is almost enough. Ultra is much, much better than the band splitting. But as the all-new album after four years of silence, it could have been better.
I think, and this fans could argue for hours, that it doesn't reach the previous album's height. But it still offers some really good songs. Let's see.
Barrel Of A Gun, the first single (released a few months before the album) is a great forerunner. The conflict, the emptiness, a sense of obscurity taking over, and finally, not redemption (as in Songs...) but resignation. Dave's rough vocals and the heaviest guitar sounds they have ever recorded find their way over some synthesiser layers, and programmed drums that sound like what The Cure is up to these days (they even recorded a cover of World In My Eyes for the tribute album Various Artists For The Masses). On a side note, the song's video, directed by Anton Corbijn as usual, is a true masterpiece.
Home, the third single is another Martin Gore vocals great standard. A critic once labelled it the best DM single of all time. I don't think that is necessarily true, but we are still left with a beautiful song.Read more ›
...though this should not be taken in the wrong way - every song IS unique and meaningful, especially 'Home' and 'Useless' (the album's third [double a-side] single) which are possibly the best examples of the album's diversity.
'Useless' is, in my mind, one of DM's most hard-edged themes - even more so than most of the songs of 'Songs Of Faith And Devotion.' It comes about from the song's indescribable honesty and inspiration. As a result, it's one of my favorite songs from 'ULTRA'. 'Barrel Of A Gun' is also a classic song of the same vein.
'Home' is a slower-paced affair that is just as, if not more, inspiring partly due to Martin Gore's unforgettable riff at the climax of the song. 'Freestate' is just as emotionally uplifting.
As I said before, every song (including the two b-side instrumental tracks) are fantastic. I'll forgo commenting on the actual sound of the album (as I typically do) and refer the reader to the title of the review.
Some have criticized this album on several grounds: the main criticism concerning the quality of the album. I think it's extremely unfortunate that most do not realize ALL of the troubles of the band over the last 7 or 8 years (circa 1992 and onward). The fact that core of the group managed to stay together and produce an album of such an outstanding quality as 'ULTRA' is an inspiration in itself.
Most recent customer reviews
this was the first dm album that i bought (in 1997), and i'm really glad i did,'cause this was the one that opened my eyes to good music... Read morePublished on June 30 2004
Ive always been told that new stuff from Depeche Mode sucked, but when I heard this album I was blown away. I think this is one of their top three best albums...at least. Read morePublished on May 15 2004 by Disintegration
DM fans pretty much see this as a weaker album in comparison with any of their 1980s stuff but seriously, they're just moping because Alan Wilder's gone. Read morePublished on March 22 2004 by Sera
when bands brake up, or there is a major line-up change, or creativity is exhausted, and the record company has you under contract, this is usually the type of material that gets... Read morePublished on March 18 2004
Depeche Mode nearly fell apart after the gargantuan Devotional tour was finally completed. Dave Gahan was clinically dead for a few minutes and Alan Wilder had left to pursue his... Read morePublished on Feb. 4 2004 by Erik Russell Olson
"Ultra" is the difficult album that Depeche Mode made after the drug-addiction period that lead singer Dave Gahan went through and the absence of former band member Alan... Read morePublished on Feb. 3 2004 by gonn1000
while violator will always be my favorite album(and songs of faith and devotion), this album is the next one of my favorites. Read morePublished on Nov. 10 2003