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Violator is the seventh studio album by English electronic music band Depeche Mode, released on 19 March 1990 by Mute Records.

Preceded by the hit singles "Personal Jesus" and "Enjoy the Silence" (a top-10 hit in both the UK and US), Violator propelled the band into international stardom. The album yielded two further hit singles, "Policy of Truth" and "World in My Eyes". Violator is the band's first album to reach the top 10 on the Billboard 200, peaking at number seven. It was supported by the World Violation Tour.

Background and development[]

Compared to previous efforts, the band decided to try a new approach to recording. Alan Wilder said, "Usually we begin the making of a record by having extensive pre-production meetings where we decide what the record will actually sound like, then go into a programming studio. This time we decided to keep all pre-production work to a minimum. We were beginning to have a problem with boredom in that we felt we'd reached a certain level of achievement in doing things a certain way." Martin Gore elaborated, "Over the last five years I think we'd perfected a formula; my demos, a month in a programming studio, etc. etc. We decided that our first record of the '90s ought to be different."[3]

With co-producer Mark "Flood" Ellis, Wilder began a complementary working relationship, with Flood able to provide the technical know-how and Wilder working on the arrangements and song textures. "That's how we made the group work at that time", clarified Wilder, "by accepting that we all had different roles and not actually all trying to do the same thing. So we ended up with this unwritten agreement in the band, where we'd all throw together a few ideas at the beginning of a track. Then Fletch and Mart would go away, and they'd come back after we'd worked on it for a while to give an opinion."[4]

There was also a notable change in Gore's demos. After the rigid, limiting effects of almost-finished demos for Music for the Masses, Gore, heeding to Wilder's request, kept them less complete this time around. Several of the basic recordings consisted of vocals over simple guitar or organ part, with the odd percussion loop but less sequenced material. The sparse demos allowed the band to take creative liberties with the songs. For instance, "Enjoy the Silence" started out as a slow ballad, but at Wilder's suggestion became a pulsating, up-tempo track.[5]

The band convened to work on the record with Flood at Mute's WorldWide programming room in London for three weeks after which they flew to Milan for the new sessions at Logic studios. According to Flood, they didn't do substantial amount of work in Milan, except for the song "Personal Jesus", which was crucial in setting the tone and spirit of the album. "Everybody was feeling each other out, because they wanted to try working in a different way. The idea was to work hard and party hard and we all enjoyed ourselves to the full." After Milan the band relocated to Puk studios in northern Denmark, where most of the album was recorded.[6]

Martin called the track "World in My Eyes" a very positive song. "It's saying that love and sex and pleasure are positive things."[3] The song "Blue Dress", which Gore called "pervy", is simply about "watching a girl dress and realising that this is 'what makes the world turn.'"[3] With "Halo", Gore said, "I'm saying 'let's give in to this' but there's also a real feeling of wrongfulness [...] I suppose my songs do seem to advocate immorality but if you listen there's always a sense of guilt."[3] The closing track, "Clean", was inspired by Pink Floyd's song "One of These Days", from their 1971 album Meddle. Said Wilder, "they [Pink Floyd] were doing something very different to anyone else at that time – you can hear electronics in there, and the influence of classical music. It's got a very repetitive, synthesised sound, and the bass riffs with the echo have a very hypnotic groove that underpins it. We basically nicked that idea [for "Clean"]".[7]

Regarding the album's title, Martin said, "We called it Violator as a joke. We wanted to come up with the most extreme, ridiculously Heavy Metal title that we could. I'll be surprised if people will get the joke."[3]

Critical reception[]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 starsStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg[8]
The Austin Chronicle4/5 starsStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg[9]
Christgau's Consumer GuideC−[10]
The Guardian5/5 starsStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg[11]
Pitchfork Media7.9/10[13]
Q4/5 starsStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg[14]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg[15]
Spin4/5 starsStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg[16]

In a contemporary review for Melody Maker, music critic Paul Lester called Violator the group's "most arresting work to date."[17] Tim Nicholson of Record Mirror was enthused by the stripped-down quality of the songs and called the album a "compromise between pop music and something a little more sinister. There are no noises out of place in this perfectly formed void".[18] Ian Cranna of Q magazine found the music subtly clever and called it "a fine record which may not set the world on fire but deserves to singe it a bit."[14] NME writer Helen Mead felt that the album "seems almost a step back, in that it's cleaner, sparser, more clinical" than Music for the Masses, but concluded that "there is security in the knowledge that everything is very clear cut in Depeche Mode's blue and white world."[12] In a less enthusiastic review, Robert Christgau said that Depeche Mode conceded to fickle teenage demographics on Violator.[10] Rolling Stone magazine's Chuck Eddy said that, despite its "ambient charm", Gahan sounds "slimy and self-involved", and in their attempt to make listeners dance, Depeche Mode "revert to morose pop psychology and then never tell you how come they're so sad."[19] Entertainment Weekly's Greg Sandow felt that the album's varied music can "cast shadows, the significance of which can be hard to figure out".[20]

In 2003, Violator was ranked number 342 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time and number 57 on the magazine's 100 Best Albums of the Nineties list.[21] It has also featured on lists of the greatest albums of all time made by publications such as Q and Spin.[22][23] In a retrospective review, The Austin Chronicle's Christopher Gray cited Violator as Depeche Mode's "career peak",[9] while The Guardian's Dorian Lynskey called it the band's best album, "encasing Martin Gore's favourite tropes – guilt, salvation, obsession and the virtues of keeping your mouth shut – in production as black and shiny as a beetle's shell."[11] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine called the album "a quintessential benchmark of pop, rock and electronic music."[2] It is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[24]

Commercial performance[]

As a sign of their rising popularity when Violator was released, a signing party for fans at a Wherehouse record store in Los Angeles that was expected to draw only a few thousand fans ended up drawing around 20,000. The band were forced to withdraw from the event due to security concerns, and their failure to appear nearly caused a riot.[25] Violator reached number 17 on the Billboard 200 year-end chart of 1990,[26] and was the first Depeche Mode album to sell a million copies in the United States.[25]

The success of Violator introduced the band to a wider audience, and this increased exposure led to their 1993 follow-up album Songs of Faith and Devotion debuting atop both the United States and United Kingdom albums charts.[27] "Before this, we'd been going along quite nicely," recalled Andy Fletcher. "Then when it came to Violator we inexplicably went huge. It was just incredible, and in many ways we never really recovered from that. After that, we just felt like we wanted to muck it up a bit."[28]

2006 re-release[]

As part of Mute's 2006 reissue schedule, Violator was re-released as a hybrid Super Audio CD + DVD-Video package on 3 April 2006 which included two-channel and 5.1 surround mixes of the album. The six B-sides to the Violator singles—"Dangerous", "Memphisto", "Sibeling", "Kaleid", "Happiest Girl", and "Sea of Sin"—also appear, albeit without the surround sound treatment. The reissue didn't reach the US till 6 June 2006. The US version lacked the hybrid SACD and instead just had a CD, but the DVD was included, and was identical to the European DVD but in NTSC format instead of PAL. The lack of SACD is due to the titles being distributed in North America by Warner, who do not support the SACD format.

A 32-minute short film entitled Depeche Mode 1989–90 (If You Wanna Use Guitars, Use Guitars) and featured interviews with the band, Daniel Miller, Flood, François Kevorkian (who mixed the album), Anton Corbijn (who directed the music videos and did the album's photography/cover), and others. It also includes news footage from the infamous "riot" in Los Angeles which gave the band media publicity the day before Violator came out. The band were scheduled to do autographs in an LA music store, and the line reached into the 20,000's. The event had to be cancelled shortly after it began due to problems keeping the line in order. There is also footage from Strange Too, notably clips from the music videos for "Halo" and "Clean".

The remastered album was released on "deluxe" vinyl 2 March 2007, in Germany and 5 March 2007, internationally.

Track listing[]

All songs written by Martin Gore.

  1. "World in My Eyes" – 4:26
  2. "Sweetest Perfection" – 4:43
  3. "Personal Jesus" – 4:56
  4. "Halo" – 4:30
  5. "Waiting for the Night" – 6:07
  6. "Enjoy the Silence" – 6:12 / "Interlude Crucified" – 1:52 (hidden track starting at 4:21)[29]
  7. "Policy of Truth" – 4:55
  8. "Blue Dress" – 5:41 / ("Interlude" – 1:23 (hidden track starting at 4:18)[29])
  9. "Clean" – 5:32

According to the band's website, the original title for "Waiting for the Night" was "Waiting for the Night to Fall" and the rest of the title was omitted due to a printing error.[30]

Both the original US and the original UK vinyl editions have a shorter version of "Personal Jesus".[29]

2006 Collectors Edition[]

  • Disc 1 is a hybrid SACD/CD with a multi-channel SACD layer, with the same track listing as the 1990 release. Bonus tracks are in PCM Stereo (48 kHz/16bit).
  • Disc 2 is a DVD which includes the documentary Depeche Mode 1989–90 (If You Wanna Use Guitars, Use Guitars), Violator in DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and PCM Stereo (48 kHz/24bit) plus the following bonus tracks:
  1. "Dangerous" – 4:22
  2. "Memphisto" – 4:03
  3. "Sibeling" – 3:18
  4. "Kaleid" – 4:18
  5. "Happiest Girl" (Jack Mix) – 4:58
  6. "Sea of Sin" (Tonal Mix) – 4:46

Japanese limited edition[]

This is the rare first Japanese pressing of Depeche Mode's Violator double-disc set. It comes in a thick double CD jewel case with the twelve-page lyric inlay booklet, sixteen-page Japanese insert, "Enjoy the Silence" insert and forty-page 1991 picture calendar. The second edition double CD was fixed and included "Enjoy the Silence" (Hands and Feet Mix) instead of the edited Ecstatic Dub Mix.

CD 2
  1. "Enjoy the Silence" (Single Version) – 4:17
  2. "Enjoy the Silence" (Ecstatic Dub) – 5:54
  3. "Enjoy the Silence" (Ecstatic Dub Edit) – 5:45
  4. "Sibeling" (Single Version) – 3:13
  5. "Enjoy the Silence" (Bass Line) – 7:42
  6. "Enjoy the Silence" (Harmonium) – 2:42
  7. "Enjoy the Silence" (Ricki Tik Tik Mix) – 5:28
  8. "Memphisto" (Single Version) – 4:01


Credits adapted from the liner notes of Violator.[1]



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Austria (IFPI Austria)[49] Gold Expression error: Missing operand for *.*
Canada (Music Canada)[50] 2× Platinum 200,000^
France (SNEP)[51] Platinum 892,000[51]
Germany (BVMI)[52] Platinum Expression error: Missing operand for *.^
Sweden (GLF)[53] Gold Expression error: Missing operand for *.^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[54] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[55] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[56] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. 1.0 1.1 Violator (CD liner notes). Depeche Mode. Mute Records. 1990. CDSTUMM64.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Cinquemani, Sal (29 September 2003). "Depeche Mode: Violator". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Maconie, Stuart (17 February 1990). "Sin Machine". NME: 34–35. Archived from the original on 4 January 2009. Retrieved 22 October 2011. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  4. Malins, p. 143
  5. Malins, pp. 143–144
  6. Malins, pp. 144–145
  7. Turner, Luke (9 May 2011). "Alan Wilder Of Recoil & Depeche Mode's 13 Favourite LPs". The Quietus. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  8. Raggett, Ned. "Violator – Depeche Mode". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 June 2011.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Gray, Christopher (25 August 2006). "Review: Speak & Spell, Music for the Masses, Violator, The Top, The Head on the Door, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Psychocandy, Darklands, Automatic, Honey's Dead, Stoned & Dethroned". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Christgau, Robert (2000). Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s. Macmillan. p. 76. ISBN 0312245602. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Lynskey, Dorian (13 April 2006). "Depeche Mode, Violator". The Guardian. London. Film & music section, p. 10. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Mead, Helen (17 March 1990). "Violators Are Blue". NME.
  13. Abebe, Nitsuh (20 July 2006). "Depeche Mode: Speak & Spell / Music for the Masses / Violator". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 24 June 2011.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Cranna, Ian (April 1990). "Insidious – Depeche Mode: no banner headlines, but good news all the same". Q (43): 77.
  15. Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 229–30. ISBN 0-743-20169-8.
  16. Dolan, Jon (July 2006). "Reissues". Spin. New York. 22 (7): 87. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  17. Lester, Paul (10 March 1990). "Life Support Machine". Melody Maker.
  18. Nicholson, Tim (17 March 1990). "Depeche Mode: Violator". Record Mirror.
  19. Eddy, Chuck (14 June 1990). "Violator". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  20. Sandow, Greg (16 March 1990). "Violator". Entertainment Weekly (5). Retrieved 24 June 2011.
  21. "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone (Special Issue). 342) Violator. November 2003. ISSN 0035-791X. Archived from the original on 24 April 2009. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  22. "2003 Q Magazine Readers' 100 Greatest Albums Ever". Q (198). January 2003. ISSN 0955-4955. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  23. "Spin 100 Greatest Albums 1985–2005". Spin (20th Anniversary Special Issue). July 2005. ISSN 0886-3032. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  24. Dimery, Robert, ed. (2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 0-789-32074-6.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Giles, Jeff (12–26 July 1990), "Depeche Mode Interview", Rolling Stone magazine (582/583): 60–65
  26. 26.0 26.1 "Billboard 200 Albums: Year End 1990". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  27. Partridge, Kenneth (19 March 2015). "Depeche Mode's 'Violator' at 25: Classic Track-by-Track Review". Billboard. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  28. Q, May 2001
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 "Depeche Mode: The Archives – Violator". Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  30. "Discography – Violator". Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
  31. "Depeche Mode – Violator". Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
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  33. "RPM100 Albums". RPM. 51 (23). 21 April 1990. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
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  36. "Depeche Mode – Violator" (in German). Offizielle Deutsche Charts. GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  37. 37.0 37.1 "Gli album più venduti del 1990" (in Italian). Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  38. デペッシュ・モードのアルバム売り上げランキング [Depeche Mode album sales ranking] (in Japanese). Oricon. Archived from the original on 7 December 2013. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  39. "Depeche Mode – Violator". Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  40. "Depeche Mode – Violator". Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
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  42. "Depeche Mode – Violator". Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  43. "Depeche Mode" (select "Albums" tab). Official Charts Company. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  44. "Depeche Mode – Chart history: Billboard 200". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  45. "Top 40 album-, DVD- és válogatáslemez-lista – 2013. 22. hét" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  46. "Jahreshitparade Alben 1990" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  47. "Top 100 Albums of 1990". RPM. 53 (6). 22 December 1993. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  48. "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts – 1990" (in German). Offizielle Deutsche Charts. GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  49. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "[[:Template:Certification Cite/Title]]"] Check |url= value (help) (in German). IFPI Austria. 23 June 1992. URL–wikilink conflict (help)
  50. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "[[:Template:Certification Cite/Title]]"] Check |url= value (help). Music Canada. 28 September 1990. URL–wikilink conflict (help)
  51. 51.0 51.1 "Les Albums Platine" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  52. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Depeche Mode; 'Violator')"] Check |url= value (help) (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  53. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998"] Check |url= value (help) (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. 18 January 1991.
  54. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Depeche Mode; 'Violator')"] Check |url= value (help). IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien.
  55. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "[[:Template:Certification Cite/Title]]"] Check |url= value (help). British Phonographic Industry. 21 March 1990. URL–wikilink conflict (help) Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Violator in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  56. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "[[:Template:Certification Cite/Title]]"] Check |url= value (help). Recording Industry Association of America. 1 May 1996. URL–wikilink conflict (help) If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 


External links[]

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