"The Violet Burning" (Domo Records; 1996)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

The Violet Burning's self-titled third CD is a rock'n'roll record, pure and simple. There's nothing metal or hard rock about it. Why Rough Edge got this 1996 released CD to review six years after it came out is a mystery to me.

That being said, "The Violet Burning" isn't that bad. But it still ain't metal. There is a lot of fuzzy distortion, rolling bass lines, and ambient parts in the collage that makes up the package called The Violet Burning. In reality, The Violet Burning is more like a grunge-cousin to the stoner rock scene if the stoner scene had started in England and not southwest America. Or you could say that The Violet Burning sound like a low-key Jesus & Mary Chain mired in the Brit-pop resurgence of the new millennium.

The Violet Burning's alt-rock style isn't enough to attract radio airplay, and its echo-like distorted leads won't do a damn thing to get these guys on the radio either. Whoops, I swore; I didn't mean to. Did I mention that The Violet Burning are a Christian band? Although the lyrics on this self-titled debut aren't very specific to praise they do conjure up themes often found in Christian literature: salvation, belief, self-doubt, declarations of faith, devotion to the Creator, and the apocalypse. 

There are times when the band rocks out as it does on blistering outro of "Fever" and the psychedelic meanderings of "The Sun And The Sky." For what it's worth, "The Sun And The Sky" received airplay on MTV and is an instantly likeable song that would have fit right along with the more uplifting songs from U2 or The Alarm if it'd only come out in the late '80s. "Low" has a cool guitar riff and rockin' drumbeat, but maybe lingers a little past its welcome at nearly eight minutes. 

Vocalist Michael J. Pritzl sounds like a cross between U2's Bono and The Why Store's Christopher Shaffer. Lyrically and emotionally the vocals work hand in hand - this stuff is particularly heartfelt and somewhat depressing. The band meanwhile sounds like a harder version The Cure without the gorgeous melodies to prop it up. The song's constructs and the music's purpose are really small but significant parts of a whole. The band is creating an atmosphere in which the songs exact their toll on the protagonist's expulsion of emotion.

In the end, The Violet Burning's self-titled CD fits into the post-Seattle backlash of toned-down pop songs although its roots are firmly in the '80s post-punk scene. It's not hard to see why this band got some positive press in the late '90s, but I don't see the band gaining any new fans from the ranks of Rough Edge readers.

"The Violet Burning" was produced by Steve Hindalong.

The Violet Burning is Michael J. Pritzl on guitars and vocals, Andy Pritchett on guitars, and Jason Pickersgill on bass. Steve Hindalong was the session drummer/percussionist.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2002 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 19 Jul 2020 14:27:18 -0400 .