Violator, released in 1990, is the seventh studio album by English Alternative Dance group Depeche Mode. Co-produced by New Order and U2 engineer Mark "Flood" Ellis (who was producing Nine Inch Nails' debut album at around the same time), the album continues the Darker and Edgier brand of Synth-Pop that had defined the band's sound since 1986's Black Celebration. Compared to the previous album, Violator offered a much more free-form composition and production style, with much more open-ended demo recordings that allowed for a greater degree of creative freedom.
The resulting album was an unprecedented commercial success, serving as Depeche Mode's mainstream Breakthrough Hit and turning the band into international superstars. The single "Enjoy the Silence" became a Top 10 hit in both the US and the UK, while the album as a whole peaked at No. 2 on the UK Albums chart and No. 10 on the Billboard 100. As a sign of the band's newfound fame, a signing party in Los Angeles initially expected to bring in a few thousand people at most ended up drawing roughly 17,000.
Violator was also a hit among critics, ranking as one of the highest-reviewed Depeche Mode albums to this very day and placing at number 342 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It's also maintained a consistent position among both fans and critics as Depeche Mode's best album, as well as one of the best albums from the brief period in The '90s between the end of The '80s and Nirvana's breakthrough in late 1991.
Violator spawned four singles: "Personal Jesus", "Enjoy the Silence", "Policy of Truth", and "World in My Eyes". "Personal Jesus" marked Depeche Mode's sendoff to the 1980's, being their last material released during the decade, coming out on August 28, 1989.
- "World in My Eyes" (4:26)
- "Sweetest Perfection" (4:43)
- "Personal Jesus" (4:56)
- "Halo" (4:30)
- "Waiting for the Night to Fall" (6:07)note
- "Enjoy the Silence" (6:12)note
- "Policy of Truth" (4:55)
- "Blue Dress" (5:41)note
- "Clean" (5:32)
Reach out, trope faith:
- Audience Participation Song: "Personal Jesus" and "Enjoy the Silence" in concert.
- Blasphemous Boast: "Personal Jesus"
- Dark Is Not Evil: "Waiting for the Night to Fall"I'm waiting for the night to fall
I know that it will save us all
When everything's dark
Keeps us from the stark reality
- Epic Rocking: The 6:07 "Waiting for the Night to Fall"; "Enjoy the Silence" also qualifies if one includes the hidden interlude.
- Everything Is an Instrument: The percussion track to "Personal Jesus" was created by recording the band members jumping on their instrument cases.
- Hidden Track: "Enjoy the Silence" and "Blue Dress" continue Depeche Mode's habit of including these, featuring follow-ups to the hidden "Interlude #1" track from Music for the Masses; like previous cases, the two interludes on Violator are sequenced as being part of the same track as the songs that directly precede them.
- Lighter and Softer:
- While the lyrics continue the dark, melodramatic tone established in 1984's Some Great Reward, the instrumentation on most songs is noticeably softer compared to the industrial-influenced style of Music for the Masses.
- The opening track "World in My Eyes" is also much lighter in its subject matter than previous Martin Gore-penned Depeche Mode songs; Word of God describes it as "saying that love and sex and pleasure are positive things."
- Minimalistic Cover Art: A high-contrast image of a red rose against a black background, with the band name and album title in tiny logotypes.
- New Sound Album: Martin starts using guitars more often, the rest of the guys work in stronger dance beats, Mark "Flood" Ellis co-produces and François Kervorkian engineers. Closer to the dance-rock style of Alternative Rock that groups like New Order and Big Audio Dynamite popularised.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Blue Dress"
- Played with on "Enjoy the Silence"; the title doesn't appear in the main song, but rather opens the hidden "Interlude #2 (Crucified)" that immediately follows it. The interlude is absent on the song's single release, playing this trope straight there.
- Not Christian Rock: "Personal Jesus" has little to do with the actual Jesus of Nazareth, mainly invoking Him as a metaphor for a partner in a romantic relationship.
- Shout-Out: "Clean" quotes the opening bassline of "One of These Days" by Pink Floyd.
- Show, Don't Tell: The message behind "Enjoy the Silence," which can pretty much be summed up as "actions speak louder than words."
- Step Up to the Microphone: Martin sings lead on "Sweetest Perfection" and "Blue Dress".
- Stoic Spectacles: Andrew Fletcher donned these around the time of the album's release.