Tuesday, March 25, 2008

the most listenable "unlistenable" album ever made

My amazon review of The Violet Burning's self-titled CD: is below. Other posts on this band are here.

Perhaps the most devastating, heartbreaking, the most listenable "unlistenable" album ever made. Born out of tough life circumstances, death and betrayal, and tenuously tethered to an incredibly vulnerable place, the gut-wrenching and guitar-wrenching angst, faith and doubt that emerge here are in fact beautiful,touching, and ultimately healing.

This is not angst for art's sake; this is art for angst's sake.

Such is the hardwon faith that does not bypass lament.

I cannot use the word "masterpiece" lightly; but I cannot not use it here.

Michael Pritzl and The Violet Burning had created two wonderful and promising CDs (especially the essebtial "Strength," truly the first modern worship record..only a decade ahead of its time!) to this point (and many gems have been released since).

But nothing prepared for this full on lunge into grunge and the abyss; heaven by way of hell.

"Have I gone too far?/Can you reach me?" ("Underwater"), "Can you fill my soul? I just don't have what it takes...do you?" ("Eleven"), "Do you feel scared like I do/Do you feel lower than angels?" and "Will I ever shine in your eyes?" ("Goldmine") are not thoughts that folk who are "supposed to" believe in God are usually allowed to express. But thank God (literally) this band was allowed to and required to. The emotion (and sometimes intentional nonemotion) in the vocals and the instrumentation (particularly the dirty bombast and orchestral air of the guitars) add up far beyond the some of their parts, and transport the listener to places they may or may not want to go. But the rare and refreshing upturns ( as "I feel your fire" in"Arabic Tremolo Radio") infuse us all the more with wild hope, as they are backdropped against the void.

Brilliantly produced by Steve Hindalong, the atmosphere shines, shimmers, haunts and heals. Fans of Andy Prickett's unique guitar sonics will be rewarded.

Musically, the Violets have been compared to, and recommended for lovers of the likes of U2, The Cure, Radiohead, Delirious, and My Bloody Valentine. This visceral album in particular has been linked to the relentless "grunge"movement, and distorted guitar, angry young man angstrock scenes. Those qualifiers may be helpful in tipping you off (If you only like classical or pop, you may never be able to fully enter thejourney).

But in the case of this opus, all bets and categories are off in the long run. It is possible for one who has no place in their record collection for any of the aforementioned to find this album a very place to benchmark their life. The record is a cathartic experience that will lift you up if you let it; if you can endure it to the end. I wouldn't even be surprised if it has literally saved someone's life. But don't get near it if you are find no place for death in your life and naked honesty in your faith (or faithlessness).

And some all out rock attack that just might tear apart and reassemble your soul, and make you stronger.

You might even try listening to it just for "fun" as an occasionally danceable rock record.

Listen to it if you like distorted guitar, but don't want to get in touch with your heart, life and God-shaped hole.

Yeah, right. I dare you.

But whatever your motive, buy this yesterday.

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