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CD Review: Depeche Mode, Violator

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Violator is Depeche Mode at their finest moment, an album that is both accessible while being pure Depeche Mode. Dare I say, a masterpiece? I will say it. Let the flame wars commence!

Now, I know some of you are reading this, and might be thinking of my review of Black Celebration, and thinking, “Didn’t you say Black Celebration was DM’s best album?” And to that I’d say, yes. And I’m saying Violator is also their best album. Confusing? Nah. At least for me, I can have two DM albums tied for best. Black Celebration serves a different purpose for me than Violator: when I’m feeling depressed, I can pop in Black Celebration and be swept away by the music. When I’m feeling upbeat and want music to blast from my car stereo, I’ll pop in Violator.

From start to finish, Violator is nearly flawless, each song flowing into the next, carrying the listener along through Martin L. Gore’s psyche and the massive sonic soundcase crafted by Alan Wilder (and largely uncredited to Wilder).

“World in My Eyes” starts with a simple synth line and the song proceeds along that path, bringing to mind earlier DM songs, something from Cathing Up with Depeche Mode, perhaps.

“Sweetest Perfection” introduces sampled drum beats and a haunting vocal performance. One of the finest tracks on the album.

We switch gears completely with the rocking “Personal Jesus” and Martin Gore’s blusey guitar riffs.

“Halo” begins simply with a basic drum loop and synthesizer while adding layers of sound, and introducing vocal harmony from Martin Gore. Another masterpiece of production.

“Waiting for The Night” is a quietly powerful song, beginning slowly with a simple synth line that continues through the song with other basic notes added to create an emotional layer.

“Enjoy the Silence” and “Policy of Truth” were staples of many dance clubs. “Enjoy the Silence” also introduces the first musical interlude to connect one song to another, with the very end of “Enjoy the Silence” leading directly into “Policy of Truth.”

“Blue Dress” is a sensual number that leads to the second musical interlude on Violator, bringing us to the closing track, “Clean.”

Violator has so many great moments, whether it’s a bit of music that catches your attention or even a simple Martin Gore harmony. Clearly a must-have for any music collection, especially if you’ve never heard DM before.

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About scottcsmith

  • Triniman

    For sure, my favorite DM recording. Will they ever top it?

  • Great stuff… They have a new tour!

  • Triniman–in a word: no. But the follow up Songs of Faith and Devotion is an underrated album that I love.