Customer Reviews: Violator
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on July 2, 2000
When Violator hit the US, I was already a die-hard Depeche Mode fan, owning every album they had put out. However, with Violator, I gained an even deeper appreciation for their writing skills, both lyrically and orchestrally. Violator is an amazing piece of euro-alt-dance-pop that has a huge dance floor appeal while at the same time makes one think and feel. Hugely successful, Violator was one of those releases that crossed over from long-time fans to a new generation and audience.
The release starts in classic DM synth dance mode with the funky and "trip"-worthy "World in My Eyes." Released as a single, this sensual piece filled dance floors across the country. The remix single is especially appealing with not only great remixes of this song, but also two other non-album tracks, "Happiest Girl" and "Sea of Sin." [The remix cassette contains the bonus Dub In My Eyes Mix!] Turning darker and slower, "Sweetest Perfection" has a depth and dangerous beauty in its lyrics and orchestration that pull you deeper within yourself as you let the music flow over you. "Personal Jesus" is a the floor stomping first single released off Violator that was a smash hit on and off the dance floor with its country twang flare, driving drum beat hooks, and anthemic lyrics like "reach out and touch faith." The remix single for this one is especially awesome and features the phenomenal non-album track "Dangerous," one of the best b-sides DM ever released. "Halo" is an amazing song and is probably my favorite on the release. With bass, synth, and orchestral hooks that blow my mind, this masterpiece builds into an emotional catharsis that is released by its audience dancing and singing along wildly by the end. This, I believe, was released as a single only in the UK (it's a very hard to find release) - this easily could have been the fifth smash hit from Violator. Returning to ballad mode, "Waiting for the Night to Fall" is soft, ethereal, and again hauntingly beautiful. You just want to curl up in the dark and enjoy the beauty of solitude with this one. Get ready to hit the dance floor again; "Enjoy the Silence" was the second single and was an absolute smash with its awesome beat, orchestration, and yell along chorus. The remix single had 6 mixes and included the awesome instrumental non-album tracks, "Sibeling" and "Memphisto." [The cassette remix contains the bonus The Quad: Final Mix!] I especially loved the video which was predominantly deep blue (I love blue videos) and features Dave Gahan wandering through the English countryside as (I believe) King Richard. "Policy of Truth" was another single, though it didn't quite see the success of the others. The remix single contains the bonus "Kaleid" (a very funky techno instrumental). With an interesting guitar and ambient intro, the song soon moves into a groovy guitar and synth driven twanger that is quite sultry and seductive - definite dirty dancin' kinda music. Still sultry but much slower and more subdued, "Blue Dress" is a beautifully crafted piece of depth and emotion that sounds almost obsessive and compulsive. This somewhat short release comes to a close with "Clean" which continues the slower theme. However, it is much darker and hazy feeling, and it has a sultry pulsating rhythm throughout that pulls you closer inside yourself.
For me, Violator is the best DM album, and one of the best alterno-euro-techno albums ever released. It gets a strong 5 star rating and falls within my top 20 releases of all time. Not only is the album amazing in its danceability and its depth of emotion, but the additional pieces that went with marketing this piece (the remix singles and videos) were equally impressive. The remix singles were especially awesome, featuring not only killer remixes, but also a plethora of unreleased material that could have filled another album!
I recommend this album highly to any DM fan, late 80s/early 90s club music fan, or anyone who simply loves good synth beat music that can make you both dance and feel. Don't let the fact that the releae only has 9 songs bother you - there isn't a single song on this release that is less than perfect. Oh, and a bonus recommendation: if you couldn't tell, get all the remix singles you can from this one - they're worth having!
Some would perhaps argue that Violator was the point at which Depeche Mode sold out. It was a huge commercial success, spawning 4 hit singles (5 if you count the rare "Halo") that filled dance floors and concert venues all over the world. However, I call it justice and recognition due. Violator is a crowning achievement for Depeche Mode's brilliant lyrical and orchestral composition talents. Accessible to all with brilliant pieces of poetry, addictive dance beats and techno hooks, and beautifully crafted videos, Violator achieved a bonding between old die-hard fans and fans new to the group, a rare feat to accomplish in the complicated world of (at least then) "alternative" music.
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on March 20, 2003
Depeche Mode built a huge underground cult fan base with their unique dark undertone style of synth-pop with their masterpiece "Black Celebration" and "Music For The Masses". "Violator", their 1990 commercial breakthrough though brought the foursome into the mainstream spotlight for the first time in their career. Spanning three hit singles, and a successful worldwide tour, "Violator" became their biggest selling album of their entire career and remains that to this very day. This CD IMO was one of the few great albums that got the praise, success, and recognition that it deserved and is now a classic today.
For a CD that is so popular on the radio and the buying public, "Violator" is a surprisingly bleak, dark, and chilling in mood, and even the smash hits like "Enjoy The Silence" and "Policy Of Truth" are hardly happy, and sunny in mood like almost all other popular songs on the radio. I still hear these songs on the radio from time to time to this very day. Reasons why? They are classics, and deserve to be heard by younger Mode fans. Still though, despite these three songs being what many casual fans seem to recognize "Violator", this album as a whole offers more than just those three songs alone. Some of the songs have some hidden interludes buried within them.
A couple of the `non-hit' songs are the best on the album. "Blue Dress" is one of those and so is "Clean". The latter song is one of the most punching numbers on this CD and one of the best songs that Depeche Mode had ever made at this point in their career. It may be about coming clean from drug problems, maybe I'm wrong on that but the truth was, their lead singer David Gahan would go into a downward spiral with heroin addiction and nearly overdosing before cleaning himself up but that's a whole other story.
Who can ever forget the gloomy classic "World In My Eyes" with it's dark, beautiful, and gloomy melody, and danceable rhythm backed up by great lyrics. DM are showing their world from their eyes. It was this song that introduced me to the Mode and I listened to more of their music and have been a fan ever since but I credit this song for turning me into a fan of them. "Enjoy The Silence" remains their biggest charting single of their career and definitely deserves so as it's an intelligent, and innovative dance song with disturbing keyboards and unforgettable atmosphere. There are five fabulous remixes of this song available on the Maxi CD-Single with two B-Sides "Sibeling" and "Memphisto" both of which are nice songs in the vein on "Pimpf". Get the CD-Single and listen to the "Ecstatic Dub" and Hands and Feet Mix: AWESOME! There's also an interlude track on the parent album version called "Crucified" which is a bizarre instrumental with menacing acoustic guitars and some angry voice effects.
The same thing holds true with "Policy Of Truth". This song is the best song on "Violator" with it's dark, low-key beats and odd chord structures. The electric wailing guitars towards the ending are hypnotizing and intense. There are four remixes of this track, all of which are great, and there is a B-Side called "Kalied" which is a funky, techno dance number. The "Beat Box" remix is excellent merely being an extended version of the original stretched to 7 minutes long and the "Trancentral" remix too with different drum sound effects and different style, it's great to hear this amazing song from a totally different light.
The other highlight of this album single wise, is the unforgettable "Personal Jesus" with its industrial pounding beats and also of it's use of twangy blues guitars. The original on this album is much better than the one on the 86-98 singles collection because it quiets down into an abstract song with some awesome metal drums where as the one on the collection I mentioned simply ends with strange guitars after only 3 minutes and 40 some odd seconds. Both versions are excellent but the "Violator" version is much superior.
The `non-hit' songs on this album are just as engaging and as great as the hit singles. "Sweetest Perfection" is an odd and ominous song with somewhat light marching military drums with intense electronic guitar wailings and keyboards. This song kind of is like a pre-cursor to "I Feel You" with its rock-oriented sound. "Halo" is a good dance song but not as much as the others. "Waiting For The Night" starts off as a dark but sweet wintery nighttime trancey song and then gradually builds up into a somewhat ominous electronic number with no particular beat but some great melody and odd chord structures. "Blue Dress" is an intoxicating and somewhat eerie dance number with addictive rhythm, electrifying style, and dark Siberian winter atmosphere. There's also an interlude at the ending before merging with the final track "Clean". This song may have been about redemption or recovery it was actually an antithesis to the downward spiral with heroin that Gahan would go into before recovering. Musically speaking, "Clean" is an absolutely intoxicating number with thundering rhythm, and dark grey sky atmosphere that simply pulls you in before it wraps up the album.
Some point to "Violator" as the album where Depeche Mode sold out to the masses. They say so because DM scored 4 top ten singles, sold millions, and had a HUGE successful tour. To the detractors, I say garbage. This album was one of the few albums in the history of music that was intelligent, innovative, dark, and moody, with addictive danceable rhythms, dark melodies, and brilliant songwriting, and got the commercial success that it got. I consider this album as the best example of brilliant and intelligent albums getting the justice and recognition that they deserve and "Violator" is a crowning achievement in their career even if it's not my absolute favorite album of theirs.
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on August 23, 2006
I don't really mind having to conduct research before deciding which version of a CD to purchase, but I suspect that I am in the minority. So I'll pass on what I learned after doing some reading and settling on the SACD UK import version of this release:

1. First, be aware that there are two versions of this release - both have a CD and a DVD, but only the UK import has a SACD 5.1 surround sound layer on the CD.
2. The DVD has a short film about the band at the time of the release of Violator. It also has the album in 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS surround. There is no DVD audio on either the US or the UK version. There are a few additional music tracks on the DVD.
3. I went for the UK import because the high resolution (SACD) will always sound best. I cannot say whether it is a noticeable difference from the DTS or Dolby Digital, as the DVD will not play on my Pioneer DVD player. It is, you see, in PAL and not NTSC format. I was, however, able to view the film on my computer, and play the extra music tracks which are also on the DVD. There are no music videos. In my opinion, the additional music was OK, but probably only of real interest to the die hard fan.

The sound on the SACD is simply stunning. If enough people had actually heard the difference between SACD and CD the way that this issue sounds different from the original CD (which sounds pretty good) I believe that the format would have done better. The sound is the reason for shelling out the big bucks for this reissue. From what I have heard in the DTS format in the past, I am sure that the US DTS or even Dolby Digital will sound excellent, if you have the proper equipment. If you have a SACD player, I would recommend the SACD version, because it is the best. Even if you cannot play the DVD on your television, you can probably watch it on your computer. And it's only worth about a single viewing. Believe me, you will listen to the SACD many times.

If you do not have the proper 5.1 surround equipment (SACD, Dolby Digital or DTS), give this a miss. It is too expensive, and you will not notice enough of a difference listening to the stereo CD layer.

It is a shame that the recording industry continues to sabotage the SACD/DVD Audio formats. It's confusing, and it need not be as bad as it is. There was no good reason not to have the hybrid SACD layer on the US version. It is begining to look as though the SACD format will become a European favorite, and DVD-Audio, such as it is, will be the "hi resolution" format of choice in the US, at least for pop music. The absence of either high resolution format on the US version of this reissue forces me to recommend the UK import, even if it does cost more.
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on February 1, 2001
This is still the best album DM put out. It is now nearly eleven years old and still sounds like it could be a top ten success today. Before Violator Depeche Mode had a strong underground type of following. They had experienced some commercial success with tracks like "People Are People" but they still hadn't taken the mainstream by storm. With Violator they were able to change that. They became pop superstars and a sensation. Goth/Synthpop was now acceptable top 40 music and everyone seemed to be into it.
This record has a huge dance floor appeal too it. And that means nothing to me since I don't dance, but.... This is just layered, dark beautifully written pop music. Great lyrics and strong music, that usually makes for a pretty good album. The range of the songs is pretty amazing actually. The mood and tempo of the songs can be quick and catchy, while the lyrics are emotionally heavy like on "Enjoy the Silence" and "Personal Jesus". Other songs fall into that slow dark mood type of song, "Waiting For The Night" is a pretty spectacular example of that.
There are no bad songs on this album. In fact there nine GREAT songs with "Sweetest Perfection" and "Policy of Truth" being the high points for me. This album is easy to swallow too. Its not an album written for the mainstream, but it is still accessible by the mainstream audience. That's brilliant, and its too bad there aren't more records like that. The record deserved all of the success it had and more. There are songs on here, that even if you HATED this type of music, you know them. And you probably kind of like them, somewhere deep inside of yourself.
This is still one of my favorite albums, and I can't really argue with people who say it is one of the all time great albums. Great music, great lyrics, great love songs, great mood. What's not to like. They're just hitting on ALL cylinders here, and this is an awesome record.
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on June 15, 2006
This release was to be hybrid SACD/CD (plays on both regular and super-audio CD players), and was indeed released as a SACD in the UK, but the US version only contains the "regular" CD version. The main draw for me to purchase a re-release of something I already own is enhanced sonic quality of the music or compelling alternative takes (not some silly video I'll only which once), and the US release misses the mark. I purchased the UK version (from Amazon UK) and I am very happy with it, and it is not much more expensive. US record companies take advantage of US consumers with habitually sub-standard product, so don't purchase it when there is a viable alternative in the UK version.
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on February 25, 2008
Let me begin by saying that I love Depeche Mode, and this is one of their best albums IMHO. Unfortunately, this remaster is like so many others from the 80s with a bloated mastering level and squashed dynamic range. Compared with the original CD it sounds thin and fatiguing. Maybe this is a conscious effort on the part of record producers to make the sound more friendly to compression to MP3 format or to listening on a portable device with really poor earbuds. However, when played on a high performance system the sound really suffers. Listeners are encouraged to check out this phenomenon [...]. Do yourself a favor and hold on dearly to the original CD. It sounds much more potent and involving. The same goes for other remastered music from the great 80s. Regard the remasters with a healthy dose of skepticism. Rock on!
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on December 15, 2006
If you are or shortly going to become a 5.1 audiophile then this is a brilliant upgrade from the basic scratched CD you've had all these years. If you have a basic 5.1 rig the audio is fantastic. Not all albums make this leap to the 5.1 world. Albums like this are great in 5.1 because they are complex and dynamic...lots of dramatic sound fx, dual vocal tracks, multiple bass lines. Violator fares well in this psychedelic environment.

I've tested the 5.1 DVD on my DTS capable rig and the mix may not be as wacky as the Flaming Lips stuff you may have's a little more subdued and true to the original album...I'd give them maybe 4/5 stars for not including the old music videos paired with the HD audio tracks too. But perhaps it's just too much material for one disc I'm not sure.

DTS sounds crisp and's AWESOME. No CD hiss and clipping is reduced in higher decibel levels. You can crank the audio as loud as you want and there is no distortion because of the headroom. Again this is hardware if you have a decent 5.1 rig you will unleash this kind of fidelity.

It seems a lot of naysayers are those who don't have a 5.1 rig and/or maybe have no clue about 5.1 audio formats. Please don't boohoo this release if you don't have a 5.1 DTS/DD rig. That's what this release is all about!
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on October 15, 2004
Depeche Mode shouldn't be here. The bizarrely extended shelf life of this Basildon four-piece has long boggled rock critics and music lovers alike - shouldn't these guys have gone out with Soft Cell? But unlike their synthpop peers of the early '80s, when the term "New Romantic" was used both often and unironically, Depeche Mode have never settled comfortably into a single niche. This makes their particular brand of noise hard to categorize (Electro-goth? Heavy dance? New Order with eyeliner?), but this genre-straddling has kept the band from fading into Reagan-era obscurity. Once they outgrew their Roland synthesizer fetish, Depeche Mode were making the best music of their career, and 1990's VIOLATOR is arguably their peak.

VIOLATOR is also a textbook exercise in keeping the listener's interest. Nine songs - long enough to satisfy your dance-rock cravings without growing tedious - work in tandem to present a unique but accessible artistic vision that stands up to repeated plays, 14 years after the album's original release.

On hits like "Stripped" and "People Are People", Depeche Mode proved to be masters of rhythm, and VIOLATOR ups the ante. "World In My Eyes" lays down a solid beat, and "The Sweetest Perfection" shuffles with an almost menacing swagger, spotlighting a killer chord progression during the chorus. But "Personal Jesus", one of the band's biggest hits, takes things to another level entirely: Just try sitting still while this ominously groovy gem works its magic. (It's also guaranteed to be the one song on the album that everyone, young or old, knows.)

"Halo" and "Waiting For The Night" are both solid numbers. The latter, almost free of percussion, creates a haunting chillout atmosphere with its airy backing instruments and evocative lyrics ("When everything's dark / It keeps us from the stark reality...I'm waiting for the night to fall / when everything is bearable"). "Enjoy The Silence", the group's biggest hit, marries goth nihilism to a dance-pop groove that's sure to make you bob your head moodily.

One of VIOLATOR's most refreshing qualities is its grace. The album succeeds primarily because it doesn't try too hard, which makes hearing it for the first time a pleasant surprise. The Mode's 1986 opus BLACK CELEBRATION, while accomplished, was also a bit of a drama queen. The songs on VIOLATOR pack an emotional wallop, but they feel honest and meaningful rather than overwrought; the focus here is more on melody than mood. And each track has its own distinct personality, so there's enough variety throughout to satisfy anyone. Whether you want to dance or sulk, VIOLATOR has something to scratch your itch.

Such an understated and enjoyable album only comes around once in a while. VIOLATOR drags post-punk angst out onto the dance floor, where it belongs, and the result is a sheer pleasure. Reach out and touch base...then pick up this album.
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on February 26, 2008
Depeche Mode are of course awesome, and this is one of their best albums. That being said, this CD remaster doesn't make the cut. It's another example of high sound levels and squashed dynamics. The result is bloated yet thin and fatiguing sound. The original CD is more visceral and exciting. If you're mainly interested in the remastered CD, DO NOT pick this up. This type of mastering/remastering that has arisen over the past several years is a real problem for people who appreciate the highest quality playback of recorded music. There are many including recording engineers who think it's a huge step backward. Hopefully this is part of a cycle, and the trend will reverse. I've noticed this poor quality on at least two other Rhino remasters: INXS greatest hits and Foreigner greatest hits. It appears that one should steer clear of Rhino reissues of music from this era.

This product isn't all bad, though. The DVD has some interesting interviews with DM, and the surround mixes are worth. However, you'll have to decide if the price is justified.
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on August 3, 2015
I've really been into Depeche Mode a lot here lately. I first started dabbling into them when I first bought "Violator" on here a couple years ago, and I was blown away and turned on within a sudden instant, in other words, it instantly won me over, and since then, it has become one of my favorite albums in my CD collection which of course continues to grow to this day. Throughout the 80's, Depeche Mode had built themselves a huge underground cult fan base with their uniquely dark style of alternative synth-pop with classics such as "Black Celebration" and "Music For the Masses", but however it would be their 1990 masterpiece "Violator" that would thrust the group into the mainstream spotlight, and it would also become DM's biggest selling album ever as well as their very best release in their career as well.

This whole album is just downright dark, bleak, and chilling in mood and nature and it shows that life is not always about being happy and sunny all the time. Every song here is just absolutely amazing and truly essential listening, all driven with amazing lyrics, brilliant songwriting, catchy, addictive, danceable beats and rhythms, dark melodies, creative sampling, and great usage of synthesizers, and piano lines, all topped off by lead singer David Gahan's amazingly deep, and imposing voice which bring every single lyric to vibrant life, though chief songwriter Martin Gore does handle lead vocals on "Sweetest Perfection" and "Blue Dress".

Kicking off "Violator" is the classic dark, and funky opener "World in My Eyes" which of course is driven by it's dark, funky, beautiful, and gloomy melody, and catchy danceable rhythm backed up nicely by the song's lyrics, and whenever you hear David Gahan sing the opening lyrics "Let me take you on a trip, around the world and back, and you won't have to move, you just sit still", you know that you are in for one serious trip here. This song is without question one of the best songs on this album, and also one of my favorite Depeche Mode songs as well. I just love it. The album's next track "Sweetest Perfection" is another amazing song and another favorite of mine that features some somewhat light marching military drums, as well as intense keyboards and electronic guitar wailings throughout with Martin Gore's vocals leading the way, and I also mentioned that Gore handles lead vocals on this song earlier. Next up, we have the unforgettably catchy, and floor stomping single "Personal Jesus" which is very well known for it's addictively heavy, floor stomping industrial dance beats, and use of catchy, twangy blues guitars, and anthemic lyrics like "Reach out and touch faith". Definitely another essential classic track for sure. Then we have "Halo" which is yet another awesomely bleak, dark, and addictive number that is wrought with great lyrics, and a wonderful chorus, as well as some symphonic/orchestral touches being added as well. Following that is "Waiting For the Night" which is a nice, quiet, dark, yet very soothing number that leaves the listener relaxed and entranced throughout with it's quiet and soothing melodic touches.

Moving onwards, we have another one of the albums' classic smash singles in "Enjoy the Silence" that brings the listener right back to the dance floor, and is also my favorite song on the whole album hands down, and DM's greatest song ever in my opinion as well. The song itself is brilliantly and flawlessly driven by a simple yet very hypnotizing guitar riff and synthesizers and Gahan's amazing vocal deliveries that carry the song straight into an amazing buildup of pure danceable bliss. The atmosphere throughout this song is just simply unforgettable, and the chrous is just catchy and pure bliss. This song would also be covered by Lacuna Coil on their 2006 release "Karmacode", and as much as I enjoy their take on this classic song, but nothing beats the original as far as I'm concerned. We're also treated with a bizarre instrumental interlude track titled "Crucified" which features some menacing acoustic guitars as well as some angry voice effects.

Afterwards, we've got "Policy of Truth" which is also yet another classic tune that begins with a nice, interesting guitar and ambient intro which moves right into a very groovy guitar and synth driven number that is just downright addictive and danceable throughout. Gahan's vocals are amazing as usual, the chorus is great, and of course let's not forget about those intense wailing electric guitars near the ending, and that entrancing guitar play that fades the song out which is really cool as well. Moving on, there's "Blue Dress" which is a somewhat eerie yet melodic dance number that features lead vocals of course from Gore, as well as an addictive rhythm, eerie synth and guitar melodies, and a dark, winter-like atmosphere throughout, and there's also another interlude that follows this song before heading into the album's final track "Clean" which is a dark and intoxicating closer that is anchored by a dark, thundering rhythm, and a dark, chilling, grey sky atmosphere backed up by Gahan's wonderful vocals throughout that just simply sucks you right in before officially wrapping things up with this album here. According to another reviewer on here, "Clean" is actually an antithesis to the downward spiral with heroin that David himself would go into before recovering from his addiction.

Well folks there you have it. All in all, "Violator" is an absolutely brilliant and intelligent masterpice from these Basildon alternative synth/pop masters, and is simply without question Depeche Mode's tour de force, and yes this is coming from someone here who loves metal music with a huge passion. There's is certainly no question that Depeche Mode truly are indeed legends in every sense of the word, and as I stated on my review for Peter Gabriel's "So", there is absolutely no reason for even metalheads such as myself to not appreciate these guys. This album here is the definition of what a good pop album should be, and is definitely light years ahead of all that overcommercialized garbage that's out there these days, and like my good friend The Terminator mentioned in his review for this album, it also proves that hard work on the part of the artists themselves does truly pay off, and become successful for all the right reasons. Bottom line, this album is Depeche Mode at their very best, and if you're new to them, then by all means "Violator" would definitely be a great place to start out with along with "Black Celebration" and "Music For the Masses" as well...Later!!!

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