Moving away from the more aggressive nature of Not The Actual Events, the EP focused more on soundscapes and textures alongside their traditional elements, similar to that of The Fragile (1999), which resulted in more longform compositions. The release was promoted with two singles: "Less Than" and "This Isn't the Place", along with their accompanying music videos. Add Violence received a positive response from critics, and reached No. 17 on the U.S. charts.
When we did Not the Actual Events, we were really seduced by the violence of it. The kind of throwing Hesitation Marks out the window and being unafraid to explore approaches we have in the past with the kind of, you know, punch in the face feel to it. And I think that the length of a five-song EP felt like the right length for that, you know? And to repeat that isn't as exciting anymore. It's like we did that. So now as we expand the lyrical viewpoint of this three song trilogy, the music that was interesting to us this time around kind of surprised us. And "Less Than" is not entirely representative of where the rest of the EP goes. So this collection of five songs feels like brothers.
Critical reception for the EP was generally positive. At Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the EP received an average score of 77, based on 11 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Gavin Miller from Drowned in Sound gave the EP a score of 8 out of 10, writing that "it's a little light on substance, but what we do get is a really fascinating insight into where Reznor is at with NIN at the moment". Kory Grow of Rolling Stone also gave the album a positive review, saying that it "contains all the aggression, abjection and self-loathing that solidified Reznor's position as alt-rock's Original Angster but with the measured restraint of a man his age".