The stomping, pungent excellence of "Barrel of a Gun" seems an unlikely fit on the otherwise subtle Ultra, but when Depeche Mode achieves a violent darkness as tangible as the one here, it's hard to complain. With Alan Wilder on a permanent leave of absence, it's up to producer Tim Simenon to fill the holes. And that he does with aplomb, helping the band to forge an eclectic, shaking racket as vital and edgy as that of his own Bomb the Bass project. The heart of the song is distortion. A scuzzy guitar punctuates the entire song, Dave Gahan's vocals are tweaked, fuzzy, and perfectly demented, and unsettling electronic percolations zip back and forth over a slow monotonous beat. Martin Gore's lyrics display a stream-of-conscious, almost schizophrenic sense of unease, setting a tone that must have gone over quite easily with a then-veering-out-of-control Gahan. Director Anton Corbijn's creepy music video featured Gahan scrambling around easily with false eyes painted on his eyelids, creating a thoroughly appropriate visual metaphor for the song. When "Barrel of a Gun" was released as a single, there was a general uproar from some longtime fans. They worried out loud, however ridiculously, that Depeche Mode was jumping on the electronica bandwagon. Seeing as how Depeche Mode was from its humble beginning a keyboard band, such claims were and are meaningless. The song follows in the same genius, grimy dance-rock tradition the band had almost single-handedly created with such classics as "Behind the Wheel," "Never Let Me Down Again," and "Personal Jesus." Despite the fact that it seems jarring on the beautiful, restrained Ultra, "Barrel of a Gun" is vintage Depeche Mode.