This Is the Moment
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2003 1 Apr
As one of Christian music's most enduring underground alternative rock bands—fourteen years and counting—those aware of The Violet Burning know it is driven by lead vocalist and songwriter Michael J. Pritzl and the musicians he surrounds himself with for each album. This time he's joined by co-producer and guitarist Andrew Prickett, bassist Herb Grimaud Jr., and drummer Sam West (Stavesacre). The style combines the sounds of new wave and alternative rock staples from the '80s (The Cure, The Smiths, Simple Minds, Love and Rockets) with those from the early '90s (Collective Soul, early Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins). Fans of The Rock 'n' Roll Worship Circus should definitely be listening to The Violet Burning—and most probably do, since both bands hail from the west coast.
Over the years Michael's lyrics have ranged from obtuse spiritual allusions to straight-out worship—The Violet Burning actually started out on an imprint label under Vineyard Music Group, and Michael is a respected songwriter in the Vineyard community. Like 2000's
"Heaven Holds My Heart" is a grace-inspired ballad that reflects as much passion and honesty as a classic Delirious track: "I've got a halo over my head, guiding me home/I've got a few hurts inside of this young heart/I got a sacred flame that burns and leads me on." Powerful and effective, the humble Psalm-inspired "Lord, Rescue Me" almost sounds liturgical, as if a cantor and a congregation were singing a responsive confessional in the dreamy style of Starflyer 59: "May I sing this holy song?/Let my words be true/All I have, I leave behind/I follow after You." Similar in confessional theme, "Let It Begin" is a terrific rock anthem that passionately expresses a desire for cleansing and change, so much so that further into the song Michael delivers what he humorously refers to as "most rock scream ever": "Get me to that river/Take me, oh, down deep/I've got to get this dirt off/Let it being inside me."
One of the more interesting tracks is "Radio Jesus Superstar," in which Michael recalls how Christian music helped change his life back in the '80s: "I can't wait, gonna go full on/The radio is playing my favorite song/The very first time I met You, You were singing in my heart." The ethereal acoustic finale to the album is called "Manta Rae," which is very much like Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" for a new generation. While it's not quite as universal and timeless as that classic, the new song is still very charming and inviting, like a modern rock spiritual: "I'll rise when my ship comes in/I'll stand up and You'll lead me in/Gonna climb on board, leave these burdens behind/So don't cry when my ship comes in."
I've heard from some Violet Burning fans who consider
Therein lies the trick in recommending