Time has slightly dulled the power of Violator. What once enchanted me fairly strongly now has considerably less impact. It's definitely a groundbreaking album of sorts: it bridged the gap and allowed the transition between how synthpop mostly sounded in the 80s and subsequently from the 90s onward, very much an important link in the progression of the style. However, it seems its offspring have bettered it - artists and albums that took the lessons that Violator introduced and then honed them. Being exposed to much more music between when I first heard Violator and now, Violator comes off as a bit... I don't know, ordinary? It's the archetypical moody synthpop album, a great example of the style but at the same time something that now sounds a lot like a lot of other albums simply because of its influence.
It is still, of course, a great album. The most important highlight is naturally "Enjoy the Silence", which I wouldn't hesitate calling one of my favourite songs. It's a boldly majestic pop song that manages the rare feat of sounding larger than life with its sheer presence, rather than via productional tricks. It's a song that never loses its hair-raising power. The singles in general are among Violator's strongest feats, especially "World in My Eyes", and out of the album cuts there's the semi-classic "Waiting for the Night" that demonstrates Depeche Mode's more tender side perfectly. By the end Violator starts to veer off the path, and its achilles heel of a somewhat unsatisfactory ending is the one point where the album's charm has really began to lose its shine over the years: "Blue Dress" and "Clean" give the album an ending that fizzles down rather unremarkably rather than being something that would really seal the album's place as a classic.
Depeche Mode have always been a band that for me is an enjoyable acquaintance rather than one I'd follow with intense interest: I tend to get addicted to their works for about a week every once in a blue moon and then promptly forget and ignore them for the rest of the time, until they make their semi-random resurfacing again. Violator, which once stood as a more special album, has over time joined the rest of the band's discography (that I've heard) in terms of what it is - a great, highly enjoyable album that nonetheless never makes such an engaging impression that I'd go over my way to praise it or hold it with any further importance than anything else the group's done. It has its classic reputation among the general music fanatic public, but for me it's just A Typically Good Depeche Mode Album.