The Violet Burning’s “The Story of Our Lives”

“In their latest release, The Violet Burning is here to tell some tales, in a story that is going on all around us . . . .” -HE

Holly Etchison
the violet burning the story of our lives

out of 10

The Violet Burning
The Story of our Lives
March 2011

Oh, the hours I’ve spent inside the Coliseum
Dodging lions and wastin’ time
Oh, those mighty kings of the jungle, I could hardly stand to see ’em
Yes, it sure has been a long, hard climb…
Someday, everything is gonna be smooth like a rhapsody
When I paint my masterpiece

-Bob Dylan

Some stories need to be told. Some tell themselves. Some you say, some you sing, with tears, with laughter, quietly, loudly. Like our lives, parts run-on, parts are fragmented, some have yet to be written. There are stories quickly recalled and those that experience buries only to be told at the right times to the right people. In their latest release, The Violet Burning is here to tell some tales, in a story that is going on all around us, the big picture which contains so many little pictures. As you listen the cognizance comes: it is your story too. Someone is singing it for you.

That someone is Michael Pritzl, front man for the group twenty years running, writer and producer of the latest collaboration, a sort of apocalyptic Orwellian tale spun out in a three disc collection, thirty four songs in total. The stellar sounds of Lenny Beh and Daryl Dawson backing him, Pritzl, it seems, has simply outdone himself here. Replete with the raw and fabulous rock ballads Violets fans have come to expect, Story is yet something more.

Subtitled The Fantastic Machine, the opening set of songs begins as a sort of rock symphony; illustrations alongside the text reveal a journey of a heart, a long way from home, thru light and darkness and the machinations of societies seen and unseen. Sentimental feelings soon get swept away in the rigorous guitar and good old fashioned tear the walls down, hard rock screams of “Where it all Begins” and the triumphant, anthemic “Lights Out”. “Imminent collapse”, with its unapologetic guitar, warns of just that while giving you the energy to run thru the danger, and the gently sung “brOthr pt One” tugs at the heart strings and lifts your gaze to the sky. The standout track however, in this writer’s opinion, is indisputably “the Letting”, a lilting, steadily beaten declaration of hopeful, faithful love:

I’m leaving soon/I’m leaving/Yeah I’m tired of this/I love you/You were so beautiful in this..I fall into your arms/hold on tightly and don’t let go.

The second disc, Black as Death, is in media res with a vengeance. “Cat Scratch Fever” has nothing on “My Name is Night”. “Maelstrom” and “Sung” continue the trend with searing sounds as picturesque as the words depicting a swirling into oblivion:

And I sang for you /All my life for you/I am sung

Beautifully, “In Ruin” is the calm following the storm:

“Ain’t it just like rain/To come wash away this pain/ this shame/Ain’t it just like love/To be stronger than this death.

In finale, Liebe uber Alles (loosely translated ‘everything is about love‘) resounds as a song of praise for a purpose discovered and restored, of a heart filled. In “Mojave” we arrive, the heavy burden of song lifted at last after a long journey thru the desert: The stars all sang/While you made the earth/and you hung out all the heavens/I’ll stand before the lord of song/The sound will rise to you. Striving ceases in “mon desir”: “All I want is You“. Reassurance comes in “Arc”: “still I wait for you, all who wander are not lost”. “I Caught Fire” is a hit, and hits the nail on the head: “In all the songs of men and angels if I have no love I am blank”. The sacrifices have been made; the blood on the tracks, as Dylan penned, now barely visible : Lord of all light/I was made for you/Lord of all creation/I was made for you For You.

Whatever story you are a part of, what part you’re in, or if you feel still untold, the Violet Burning’s Story of our Lives is a is a timely and poignant soundtrack for the brokenhearted, the fearful, the oppressed,the skeptical, the triumphant, the joyous, the lost, the found. It also simply rocks. Run, don’t walk, to check it out.