Playing The Angel

  • Record Label: Reprise
  • Release Date: Oct 18, 2005
User Score
8.9

Universal acclaim- based on 202 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 5 out of 202

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  1. Nando
    Oct 19, 2005
    3
    What are you people talking about? This CD is so weak. I was and I emphasize was the biggest Mode fan around up to the early 90's. After Violator, they should've called it quits. This new album is terrible. It is boring and shows no energy or originality. Come on people, it doesn't even compare to their previous work. Its only saving grace is "Precious." Everything else What are you people talking about? This CD is so weak. I was and I emphasize was the biggest Mode fan around up to the early 90's. After Violator, they should've called it quits. This new album is terrible. It is boring and shows no energy or originality. Come on people, it doesn't even compare to their previous work. Its only saving grace is "Precious." Everything else shows no indication of the talent and vocal power of Gahan. What happened to my favorite band? I hate to say this, but call it quits boys. I am truly a huge Mode fan and can't take the disappointment any longer. Expand
  2. DroneStudios
    Dec 30, 2005
    2
    I have been a Depeche Mode fan since Some Great Reward (1984) and own every DM album. Being with the majority, I feel Violator is their strongest album. I am in the minority here when I say Playing The Angel is their absolute worst album. I believe what set DM apart from their contemporaries (and this spans 3 decades) was their ability to write catchy, mood-driven songs with much emotion. I have been a Depeche Mode fan since Some Great Reward (1984) and own every DM album. Being with the majority, I feel Violator is their strongest album. I am in the minority here when I say Playing The Angel is their absolute worst album. I believe what set DM apart from their contemporaries (and this spans 3 decades) was their ability to write catchy, mood-driven songs with much emotion. This was intertwined with beautiful synth driven sounds...but not only that, DM were experimental in the process and you could not mistake their sound for any other band. Playing the Angel sounds a lot like other bands...mainly Nine Ince Nails. Playing the Angel is definitely not Violator...any comparison to Violator is made for marketing purposes to sell PTA. PTA neither sounds like Violator or has the strong melodies and amazing sounds and production inherent in Violator or any of the other Depeche Mode albums. This is the most monotone DM album. Even Ultra and Exciter have songs that are worth noting. Nothing stands out on this album. Precious is the best song on this album and even then it is lacking in melodic content. The band lists a slew of analog synths they used on this album...namely a rack of ARP 2600s, Minimoog, EMS VCS-3, Voyetra 8, Korg MS-20, Korg 900PS, Roland Juno 106 and a Yamaha CS-5. For synth fans, if you're expecting rounded, warm analog sounds you will be severely disappointed. I would venture to say most of the sounds on PTA came from Native Instruments Reaktor and the NI suite of DSP synths. The back to analog synths statement is all marketing hype to sell this album. So to sum up this review...Playing the Angel contains no strong melodies, just uninteresting feedback-laden synth lines that sound digital rather than analog, monotone basslines and vocals (the songs stay on one minor chord for the duration of the song), no peaks and valleys in the production...everything is in your face, uninspired lyrics from Martin and Dave, and an overall boring album. I'll be kind and give PTA a two rating for the DM effort..only because I once loved Depeche Mode. Perhaps fans of Nine Inch Nails will love and adore this album. True, longtime Depeche Mode fans who crave the sound of DM with Alan Wilder or even Vince Clarke will be disappointed. Heck, Playing the Angel doesn't even compare to Ultra and Exciter. Expand
  3. SatanicMajesty
    Nov 28, 2005
    1
    A HUGE, HUGE step forward since their TRULLY ROCKER debut.
  4. time
    Oct 26, 2007
    0
    I freaking hate this band and any other of those goofy synth rock Richard Blade douche bags that passed around nothing but crap in the 80s. Thank God for Sonic Youth, the Pixies and the Mary Chain. This genre should have never made a comeback. Fortunately it was so obnoxious that the 90s is making an early comeback. Shoegaze killed synth and that's why it's my favorite genre. I freaking hate this band and any other of those goofy synth rock Richard Blade douche bags that passed around nothing but crap in the 80s. Thank God for Sonic Youth, the Pixies and the Mary Chain. This genre should have never made a comeback. Fortunately it was so obnoxious that the 90s is making an early comeback. Shoegaze killed synth and that's why it's my favorite genre. This was glorified garbage and nobody took it seriously. If they're so dark and gloomy they should have ended it all in their heyday and given up on this bullshit that passes of as music. Expand
Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. Like the best Depeche Mode, almost everything on the album will make an initial wowing impact while remaining layered enough in subtle details to surprise and thrill with repeated listens.
  2. Billboard
    80
    Revels in dirty guitars and fuzzy distortion while maintaining Depeche Mode's familiar electronic sound. [22 Oct 2005]
  3. Filter
    86
    It's got all the allure of classic D-Mode, but there's that lingering hint of taking oneself a tad too seriously. [#17, p.97]