Though their previous album Reach for the Sky went platinum, it met with some criticism regarding the quality of their songs. In an attempt to regain the popularity that Ratt had in the mid-1980s, the band parted ways with long-time producer Beau Hill. Hitmaker Desmond Child and his personal sound engineer Sir Arthur Payson were hired to helm the project. The album is notable for featuring Ratt's only ballad, "Givin' Yourself Away". The band also gravitated towards a more glam metal/pop metal sound on Detonator.
This is the last Ratt album to feature guitarist Robbin Crosby and bassist Juan Croucier. Crosby departed the group in 1991 following the Japanese leg of the Detonator Tour, and died in 2002 following a heroin overdose.