The Violet Burning was one of the first “Christian alternative” bands that I really got into when I discovered there was such a thing back in the mid-1990s. Their 1992 album Strength was very influential during those tumultuous high school years, and remains one of my favorite worship albums to this day.
In those years before the Internet and Google, it was difficult to track down news and info about The Violet Burning — especially if you lived in Nebraska. As such, I recall being absolutely thrilled back then to stumble across Chosen, their 1990 debut, on the shelves of Crosstunes (my favorite Christian music store back in those days).
2010 marks the 20th anniversary of Chosen’s release, and to celebrate, the band made it available as a free download earlier this year. Additionally, they released Mercy Songs, a solo album from Violet Burning frontman Michael J. Pritzl that reworks eight songs from Chosen and Strength.
Listening to it now, nearly 20 years after my initial discovery, I find Chosen to be an odd, mercurial — some might say “uneven” — album. It moves from tunes that border on CCM (“I Will Always Stand By You”) to some solid goth/post-punk/glam (“There Is Nowhere Else”, “Rise Like The Lion”), from slinky rock n’ roll (“Groove Baby — White Soul”) to a pretty blatant Prince imitation (“If You Let Me”).
Overall, I find Strength is the superior album. However, Chosen is certainly worth checking out if you’re at all interested in the history of the Christian indie/alternative music scene, and in particular, the history of one of that scene’s most important bands.