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An Album You Must Own: Violator

posted Mar 27, 2011, 11:15 AM by Golden Knight   [ updated Mar 29, 2011, 2:27 PM ]

Posted in Music 

By Matt Ramirez


It was dubbed as their breakthrough album. It was this album which further cemented their status as the world’s first electronic stadium stars and would later prompt a riot at an LA record signing event a day before the album even hit the shelves. Violator would prove to be Depeche Mode’s most successful album to date. Its provocative themes and lyrics along with its dark, yet beautiful melodies and atmospheric sounds make the overall product a classic album and one of the most progressive of its time.

The band cleverly steers away from extravagant synthesizers that directed songs on their previous works and instead meshes the computer-generated loops with rock instrumentation. Live drums (on “Clean”) and bass licks assist wherever synthesizers are leading the song. What is produced is a very subtle and balanced marriage of sound that utilizes the charms of both genres to make a masterfully crafted array of both styles.

The music of “Violator” is filled with a range of different themes such as the allure of lust, or protection, depending on one’s point of view (“World In My Eyes”), the power of control (“Policy Of Truth”), the manipulation and subtle mockery of religion (“Personal Jesus”), human ignorance (“Enjoy The Silence”), as well as many other profound lyrical concepts. All of them are delivered in a very provocative first person that gives the songs a deep meaning.

The album is composed of only nine songs. However, what makes up for the shortage of songs is the relative consistency of quality within them. “Clean” is particularly captivating and puts a strong finale to the album (an eerie foreshadow to Dave Gahan’s eventual heroin addiction). “Waiting For The Night” has a serene, subdued, and dark instrumentation with a vocal delivery that is done in such perfection that it makes it the album’s top song.

The 1990’s were a time of great change, and this is evidently apparent in Violator. Depeche Mode opted for a simple yet complex approach when making the album, as opposed to their grand, stadium-filling anthems from their previous album, Music for the Masses. The hit singles are all great to listen to as stand-alone tracks, but it works very well as a coherent album as well.

Violator is Depeche Mode’s craft filtered, distilled and purified. It utilizes ominous guitar lines, beautifully moody vocals and crystal clear electronic effects that all float gracefully over murky bass lines. Tempos rise, fall to the lowest depths, and rise again, sometimes within the space of a single song. Anonymous interludes bind the songs together with elegance and subtlety. It’s darkly mysterious, evocative, and definitely moody.

In short, if this album is not in your collection, go purchase a copy now.