For the Masses: A Tribute to Depeche Mode

ForTheMassesRelease Year: 1998

Rating: 6/10

Most tribute albums are pretty shoddy and aren’t worth your time, but since this one boasted some big acts, like The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, and Deftones I decided to check it out. While the covers from the aforementioned artists are pretty good, the rest of the renditions either play it safe and change nothing about the song or change everything about it making it sound bad. By the sixth track, you’ll be ready to turn off the album and listen to some real Depeche Mode.

Let’s start with the good. Smashing Pumpkins’ version of “Never Let Me Down Again” is really soft and mellow. It’s actually a decent cover, but since it is so mellow and light it may take some getting used to. You would expect something more vibrant and energetic from the band, but they did the complete opposite. They at least provide a different take on the song while making sure fans knew which Mode single it was. It’s not the best cover on the album, but it’s one you should check out. The best track here is The Cure’s version of “World in My Eyes.” With the upbeat electronic inspired music on the track, it manages to sound like a Cure song from the mid-90s, but you can still hear elements of the original. This one actually adds a fresh element to the song without taking anything away from it. I just think it’s awesome how The Cure covered one of their songs, considering Depeche Mode looked up to the band when they first started.

Another decent cover is “To Have and to Hold” by Deftones. This is another version that stays true to the original, but the music is really fuzzy and heavy, which helps to keep the dark tone of the track. Other than that, there really isn’t much else to say about the song. When researching the album, I found out Nine Inch Nails, Foo Fighters, and Marilyn Manson were supposed to add contributions, but didn’t have the time. With the way it turned out, they should’ve waited for these artists to finish because the rest of the covers are pretty awful. God Lives Underwater turns “Fly on the Windscreen” into some weird hip-hop, R&B song where you can’t even hear the singing (not that you would want to), while Failure (appropriately named) took away all the despair from “Enjoy the Silence” and turned it into a weird lounge rock infused version.

Some of the covers have really weak vocals. The singer of Hooverphonic tries way too hard to be sensual on “Shake the Disease” while the guy from Monster Magnet sounds like a poor man’s Chris Cornell when singing “Black Celebration.” Apollo Four Forty tries way too hard to make their version of “I Feel You” sound like the original. They even have their singer trying to pull the same vocal effects as Gahan on the track. Locust tries to turn “Master and Servant” into a smooth jazz duet and Rabbit in the Moon drag out “Waiting for Tonight” to the point where it bores you to tears. Even when the artists don’t suck at singing or music in general they play it safe by not changing a thing, which is the case with Veruca Salt’s “Somebody.” It doesn’t sound terrible, but with the exception of a different singer, it’s a copy of the original.

Overall, the album gets 6/10. What seemed to be a promising tribute album is mediocre at best. There are some notable covers by the likes of The Cure and Smashing Pumpkins, but the rest try too hard to replicate the original making them dull. When a cover does manage to shake things up it does it in the worst way possible. If anything this album makes you want to listen to some classic Depeche Mode and forget the time you wasted on this garbage.

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