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September 2003 Pick of the Month

This Is the Moment
Artist: The Violet Burning
Label: Northern Records

To many of the younger, alternative rock fans out there, the name “Violet Burning” may not resonate a sense of excitement and anticipation. But, for the rest of you, This Is the Moment will be an answer to your prayers.

Most longtime Alternative Rock fans know that any new recording from Mike Pritzl is reason enough to cheer, and this new recording doesn’t disappoint.

The band has been prolific over the last ten years, releasing seven projects in that time span. Now, coming off the brilliant strength of their last CD, Faith and Devotions of a Satellite Heart, the band releases an album of surprisingly positive and worship alternative rock songs.

While not as visceral as the self-titled “Domo Record” nor as eclectic as Plastic and Elastic, the Violets are much more lyrically centered than on previous outings. Continuing to follow the track laid down on Satellite Heart, but in a much more polished and lyrically straightforward manner.

Taking their songs into degrees of black and white, Pritzl writes and sings songs that declare an open-hearted love and devotion to Christ as Savior and Lord. Not since their now out-of-print classic Strength has the band been so vulnerable about their faith, and that’s a good thing. 

A very good thing.

For example, as Pritzl sings on “The Only One,” “And in your love I sing/ I, I believe in you/ I, I will trust in you/ So hold me close, Lord/ In your arms/ You’re the only one that I need/ On the Cross/ You gave your life for me/ Out of love/ You set this captive free” you can feel the sincere yearning in his voice to lift his song above the clouds and touch the heart of God.

Certainly, the Violets have released their most light-hearted, worshipful, optimistic set of songs ever on This Is the Moment

With a new line-up change on nearly every album, The Violet’s latest incarnation includes a veritable “who’s who” of Christian Alternative Rock. With Andrew Prickett on the guitars, Herb Grimaud Jr. on bass and Sam West on drums, the Violet Burning are approaching a “mega-band” status. However, the snarling guitar prowess of Prickett is notably muted here, and drummer Sam West is certainly less threatening than the rhythms he’s laid down for bands like Stavesacre and Savior Machine.

It’s no secret that this is a band that exists to provide a platform for Pritzl’s music and words. 

However, it’s been a long time since the Violets have had a CD released, and so, potentially, there are numerous alternative music fans out there who may be surprised that the band is still around, or who may have never heard of the band at all.

I can highly recommend This Is the Moment for fans of alternative worship, and especially for those who enjoy the music of artists like The Choir, Fold Zandura or Mike Knott.

Keith Giles 5/11/2003

When your favorite band releases a new album it can be both exciting and scary at the same time. On one hand, there will finally be some new music to listen to instead of the old CDs that you loved so much. But on the other hand, what if this new release disappoints and forces you to go back to the old CDs, longing for those better days.

The Violet Burning's music is very personal for me. It appeals to me on more levels than any other band has ever done for me. And this is exactly how The Violet Burning earns their fans: Michael Pritzl and company write and play music that reaches people in a deep way both emotionally and spiritually. The music is born from Michael Pritzl's honest heart, striving to do the best possible with his God-given talent.

The band's last release Faith and Devotion of a Satellite Heart was no doubt a worship album, designed with that intent in mind. Prior to that release, Demonstrates Plastic and Elastic was much more cryptic lyrically with the focus on love songs. This is the Moment feels like the album that pulls these two sides of The Violet Burning together into one cohesive whole.

The music on This is the Moment is the accessible side of The Violet Burning that they showed promise of with songs like "Moon Radio" and "Gorgeous" on Demonstrates. At first this is a bit worrisome to critical music listeners. Has Pritzl compromised his artistic talent for a few hit singles? Repeated listens to This is the Moment will reveal that Pritzl has compromised nothing, but that he just might indeed have a few hit singles here anyway. The songs walk the difficult line between accessibility and artistry and do it with a balance that works.

Lyrically, This is the Moment feels like an unrestrained worship album. The band does not have the moniker of "worship album" placed on this CD, so Pritzl had the opportunity to pen songs coming from a heart of worship that may manifest themselves in other ways. A glance at the song titles reveals quickly that this is a Christian CD. But it is never at one moment cheesy.

The best songs on the album are spread throughout. There are upbeat rock songs like "Lovesick" and "Radio Jesus Superstar" that could very well gain the band the airplay that they so badly deserve. Then there are the beautiful songs like "Slowa" and "Manta Rae" that will certainly appeal to fans of the band's older music. In fact, "Manta Rae" could very well be one of the best songs that Michael Pritzl has ever penned.

I'm really not sure how Michael Pritzl pulls it off, but this CD connects with the listener. It communicates and oozes truth and beauty in an intimately personal way. One thing is for sure, in a few months The Violet Burning will find themselves with a lot of new fans. Those of us who have stuck with them for awhile now don't need to be bitter about it. They're sharing themselves with an many people as possible and this is the kind of music that our world desperately needs. 

Trae Cadenhead 6/22/2003


 
 

Trae Cadenhead is a student at Union University. He is pursuing a Digital Media Studies major with a Film Studies minor and plans to become involved in film making following school. Trae also has an enormous interest in music. Along with writing for the Tollbooth, Trae maintains Loconotion (loconotion.surfhere.net), a digital archive of his thoughts on music and movies as well as a gallery of the art and video work he is doing.

Essentially a Michael Pritzl solo project, The Violet Burning’s latest release is one of the year’s strongest, encapsulating the passionate inspirations of '80s post-punk and '90s indie pop while remaining relevant to the new millennium.

Pritzl bares his soul and expresses his faith sincerely and artistically without ever resorting to cliché and formula. Highlights include the anthemic "Lovesick," the adoring "the Only One'" the touching "Heaven Holds My Heart," and the hope-affirming "Manta Rae."

Essential listening for 2003. 
 

Kevin Mathews  8/16/2003

The Violet Burning is similar to U2, especially with Michael Pritzl singing like Bono. However, the main difference between the two bands is that The Violet Burning is more of an '80s pop rock band. This is the Moment is the California band's latest release on Northern Records.

What's also different from U2 is that almost every single song on This is the Moment has some form of clear spiritual significance. "Everywhere I Go," "The Only One," and "Lord, Rescue Me" are three worship songs that could be sung in a church.

"Lovesick," "Radio Jesus Superstar," and "I'm Not Letting Go" are three of the best tracks on the twelve-song disc. The electronic beats and keys provide some interesting music, but the songs are repetitious to the point of boredom.

This Is The Moment is not The Violet Burning's best. For its genre, the album just isn't catchy enough.

Matt Modrich 8/25/2003

The year is 2003, a new century--heck, it's a new millennium--and here crashing in on my own little musical world, after many years, is the Michael Pritzl-led Violet Burning.  In fact, my last encounter was the 1992 release Strength, whose lyrical magnificence still gets me in {the} heart.

I am nothing and I have nowhere to turn
I am nothing so I lay down and cry for mercy, oh mercy
STUNNING!!!

Not only has The Violet Burning crashed my world, it's taken me straight to it's leader.

This is the Moment kicks off with three absolutely stunning songs, namely "Lovesick," "Everywhere I Go," and "Radio Jesus Superstar," which all demand you sit up and pay very close attention. They deserve to be turned up to an eleven on that volume dial.  These songs should be all over the radio; it's surely an injustice that they're not.

After only a few listens to this CD I was right there, caught up with the passion, the longing, that almost desperation need for intimacy with the creator God.  There's water deep enough to swim in. For example, "Heaven holds My Heart" pleads, "Draw me close to your side, just for a while," and "Lovesick" begs, "I wanna be where you are; I wanna be by your heart."

These songs and their longings could well be psalms for the twenty-first century.  Musically, this is a bit retro with an '80s vibe, but it's beautifully crafted and intertwined with a very twenty-first-century groove.

The Violet Burning, you are very welcome in my world.

Mark Reid  10/6/2003

Michael Pritzl and his band, the Violet Burning, sound absolutely incredible on this studio recording with a very full sound that lacks nothing. There are just enough driving drum beats the right amount of electric guitar, and a few other things thrown in here and there for good measure, to provide a nice bed for Prtizl’s incredible vocals. This album is certainly a keeper and an excellent introduction to The Violet Burning for new listeners.

One could very easily be moved to worship the Lord by Pritzl’s song “The Only One” with lyrics such as, “You are the Prefect Lamb of Peace/My strength, the air I breathe/I hear the choirs of heaven and in Your love I sing.” 

Many other songs on the album will inspire worship, and make the listener’s heart glad. Others sound like something you might hear while listening to the local rock station. Opening with the lines”Nothing can compare to you

Your love is perfect and true
I love it when you say my name
In my heart I am changed. 
 
And you know
Everywhere I go
I want to be with you
Your heart has made me whole, 
the song “Everywhere I Go” sounds like it could be a love song or a worship song, the type of song a high school rock band might even want to cover. 

Overall, this is a very strong and solid effort.

Ramona Anne Dube  12/8/2003


 

 

   
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