Aug 21, 2011 CD Reviews
Posted by wiegmake
the story of our lives
liebe über alles, black as death, and the fantastic machine
by the violet burning
Grade – A+
The Violet Burning is an independent project band that was born in the early 90’s and whose membership has rotated through a variety of players, but since the beginning it has been led by lead vocalist Michael Pritzl. The band has long been an underground success, playing a lot of club-like venues and an occasional festival. Their sound is referred to as traditional rock with a heavy guitar driven sound.
The Violet Burning’s latest project is a three-part, 34 track concept album called “The Story of Our Lives.” The overall project is broken up into what could be considered three separate projects. Part 1 is “The Fantastic Machine,” part 2 is “Black As Death,” and the 3rd part is “Liebe über Alles.”
Each of the 3 parts has its own particular sound and theme, but all weave together as one story. Pritzl had a very specific story in mind when he wrote this project, life, death, the journey after death, but in a general sense, “The Story of Our Lives” could be the story of any listener’s faith, with themes of struggles, doubt, revived faith, and eventual surrender.
In a figurative way, many of the songs play out like a modern day psalm. There are cries of desperation, cries for mercy, and cries of praise just like in the psalms. Lyrically, all 3 projects are very profound and introspective while at the same time the musicianship and production is equally outstanding.
“The Fantastic Machine”
On the first CD, the songs address cultural trappings in life including advertising media, social media and there connections when it comes to tracking what we do online. Hence the tracks called “br0ther” which address the big brother syndrome in an Orwellian sense. The “br0ther” tracks have a very similar sound and style of a Roger Waters album. The concept of the first part is that the main character realizes he is a part of a machine and subsequently chooses to leave the machine and in some sense chooses death – leading into the second part of the project “Black as Death.”
“Black As Death”
As the title would allude to, “Black As Death” is much darker in theme and sonically edgier. By far this is my favorite part of “The Story of Our Lives”, but when you dig into the content – it’s extremely dark and describes a place in life few would want to be. To me, in this part of the project the storyteller is wrestling with his faith. There is agony, despair, doubt and overall darkness. The theme here is “fallen.” However, in the midst of this fallen state the songs speak of Christ as a way out of the pit of despair. The song “Maelstrom” is a plea for help and mercy in the midst of the epic struggles of life. There is a lot of self-examination and doubt throughout these tracks and I can feel the agony of choosing to follow Christ or abandoning the faith for the promises of the world.
“Rock Is Dead” is a poetic description of the risen Christ and a hard-core reminder of the ultimate sacrifice Christ made for us – as the song opens with these lyrics; “These five little words, ‘I love you to death’” restate the ultimate reason God allowed His own son to be a sacrifice for all mankind.
In “Nowhere, CA” I think of the fact that no matter where we are in life, no matter how deep of a hole we’ve dug, or how low we’ve sunk, Christ will meet us there. We’re often lost, but never out of reach of God. If we turn to Christ he will “rescue” you as the song says. However, while Christ will meet us where we are, He does not want us to stay there. As the lyrics state, “You gave your life, I’ll give you mine.” God gives us hope to live a productive and fruitful life.
“In Ruin” is possibly the best example of the psalm-like construct of the songs on this project. This song represents the amazing realization of the grace and mercy of God.
“Liebe über Alles”
The title of the final part of the project can be translated as “love over all things.” This part of the project takes a more subtle approach sonically, with a more emo and traditional rock soundtrack. The theme here is one of letting go, surrendering, and I believe, the transcending peace of God – “the light poured down on me.”
The songs speak of a person coming to grip with God’s immeasurable and sometimes unphathomable ability to Love. As the title track puts it, “and in the end, all we’ve got is love and love alone.”
Aptly titled “Cardiac,” Pritzl sings of surrendering our hearts to God. And this theme of surrender is even more pressing in “Change of Heart” which iterates three small words, “Please Forgive Me.” It seems overly simplistic, but what salvation and a life in Christ boils down to can be these three words. At least it can start with these three words as the song states.
This all leads up to the closing track of the project, “Made For You.” Here the storyteller realizes that our ultimate purpose in life is to glorify God, it is what we were made for… “every corner of my heart… every corner of my soul…” and as it ends, “Lord of all light, I was made for you, Lord of all creation, I was made for you, made for you.”
“The Story of Our Lives”
This is an epic project and it flies in the face of the industry that is still bent on marketing and selling hit singles. Each album could have easily been released one year at a time as a stand-alone project. I have read that the entire project was seven years in the making and I do not doubt it. An incredible amount of work has gone into crafting a lyrically profound and sonically refreshing concept album that so significantly represents the story of all our lives.
While the main intent of Pritzl was to address today’s electronic culture, and the amount of privacy we so willingly give up to “big brother,” as a listener some of the project is still open to a personal interpretation. And personally, I see, at least the second and third parts, as an epic wrestling of one’s faith that ends with the ultimate victory of the cross.
- Ken W.