Various - Mode of Obscurity

Where to start reviewing a compilation with this much scope and variety? Probably by telling you what it’s all about. Mode of Obscurity is a local tribute to Depeche Mode, with each band bringing their unique interpretation to one track of their choice from the band’s vast musical catalog stretching over the past two decades. There are 20 tracks here, clocking in at almost 80 minutes. Any more and it would have to be a double CD (Belljar alone did 4 covers, who knows maybe it could have been). Most of our top local rock bands are represented, including some lesser known bands. But then again, the great thing about compilations is having the opportunity to discover new music.

You could easily make the mistake of thinking the first half of the disc contains most of the highlights, with names like The Narrow, Wickhead, 16 Stitch and The Parlotones on the list. Not by a long shot. Although 16 Stitch’s rendition of Policy of Truth is definitely one of the highlights and Fokofpolisiekar’s Shake The Disease is the first and last English track you’re likely to hear from them, the second half is where things get really interesting. Somehow I simply cannot imagine anyone but Hog Hoggidy Hog covering the 1981 classic Just Can’t Get Enough, and 3 Minute Solution blows Marilyn Manson out of the water with their version of Personal Jesus. Dubway’s rendition of Barryl of a Gun is simply awesome, while Belljar’s cover of Stripped is reason enough to buy this CD (forget the Vodacom ad, these guys rock big time). I was also pleasantly surprised by Heteromorpha’s Fly on the Windscreen, having heard of them but not their music. Running with Scissors is one of 4 female fronted bands on the disc (the others being Tiger Lilly, Scarlet Box and Heteromorpha) and I simply loved their version of World In My Eyes. Here is a band I’d definitely like to hear more of. Tiger Lilly’s cover of Strange Love (one of my favorite 80’s DM songs) is also pretty good, another pleasant surprise from a band I’ve never heard of.

Other track highlights include The Parlotone’s with Somebody. No fancy gimmicks here, just a great cover of a great song. The Slashdog’s rendition of Never Let Me Down is awesome, a band I only got into recently. They definitely get the award for best guitar riff. To quote their website - “you read right... we went and put a guitar solo in a Depeche Mode track. Deal with it!” - and F...etc puts a punk twist on Enjoy The Silence, another classic DM track. I can keep going all night, there’s simply too many good tracks to mention. I would like to hand out three more awards though.

The first one is for originality. This is a toss-up between Dubway and The Slashdogs, but I’m going to give it to Dubway for Barrel of a Gun. The second is for authenticity. In other words, which track sounds closest to the original. This is a difficult one, since they’re all unique in some way, but I’m going to give it to Belljar for their version of Stripped.

And last, but definitely not least, the award for best track overall. This will surprise many of you and I’m probably somewhat biased, but fuck it. The award for best track goes to... Blasphemous Rumours by Kobus! This has to be the slowest, heaviest, most haunting track on the disc and like Fokofpolisiekar, a rare opportunity for English listeners to understand what they’re singing.

Congratulations to all the winners.

So there you have it folks. Mode of Obscurity has lived up to all expectations. Now the only thing left to do is for you to get your grubby little paws on it. For more information check out