Your Gateway to Music and More from a Christian Perspective
Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Label: Sparrow Records
Time: 12 Tracks / 55:06
Mission Bell from Delirious? may be their best album yet. It opens with a great worship track "Stronger" recorded in a fashion that will appeal to fans of Coldplay. The song is really Martin Smith's testimony as he was nearly killed in an automobile accident in 1993. "I love you from the depths of my heart / And nothing here will tear us apart,"
Deep guitar Grooves drive the second track the thundering rock anthem "Now Is The Time." My favorite tune however is "Solid Rock" a modernization of a very old hymn. The track begins with very David Bowiesque type vocals and moody instrumentals. This is a beautifully textured song with layer upon layer of quality guitar riffs, and Martin's brother Stew lying down some great drumbeats. Toby Mac makes a guest appearance rapping out the words to this reborn hymn.
"All This Time" is a blend of mysterious ethereal backup vocals and instrumentals. Vocally it begins with Martin capturing the same kind of moodiness you find in the vocals of Brad Roberts of the Crash Test Dummies. There is a line in the lyrics that is probably the best line written in any song this year, "My life is a show on God's TV". Stew Smith says, "What is important is who we are and who we are in God's eyes. That line really does talk about what we are actually doing with our lives." The song has some great but not overpowering guitar special effects.
"Miracle Maker" reverts back to a contemplative worship prayer of adoration. One of the primary initiatives for Delirious? is to write songs for the church to sing and "Miracle Maker" is one of those songs. It is a song of preparation, preparing your heart for communion or perhaps a song of invitation. Once this song starts circulating in churches it will be a mainstay in church services for years to come.
The band members hope that those listening to this album will examine their vocational calling. "Here I Am Send Me" arrives straight out of the Book of Isaiah. The song has its origins in Isaiah's vision and God's commissioning of him to be His prophet to the people of Israel.
From Mission Bell Delirious? debuted different singles in the UK and United States. The talking heads from their American management team suggested "Fires Burning" for this side of the Atlantic while the band went with its instincts for their homeland and released "Paint the Town Red." Personally I like the band's choice better and think it would have fared better State side. This is a rocking song that will rattle your bones. You listen to the CD and tell me which song you think will ultimately win the hearts of fans throughout the United States. "Paint the Town Red" also has good mainstream potential but then the Christian labels and marketing people in North America still haven't figured out how to cross that bridge successfully.
The hard hitting lyrics of "Our God Reigns" deal with issues such as abortion, AIDS and materialism. This is an in your face song that thrusts Christian values onto the world stage. It is not backed by heavy rock beats but instead has gentle instrumentals so the words can be heard clearly.
The only drawback to Mission Bell is four of the songs are so lengthy that one has to wonder if they will ever find their way to radio rotation. "All This Time" weighs in at 5:26, Miracle Maker at 5:44, the lengthy "Take Off My Shoes" is 6:28 and you can delight in "Our God Reigns" for 5:41. If you love wonderful music put to great lyrics forget about whether you hear these songs on the radio and just go out and buy the CD.
By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved
Joe Montague is an internationally published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18. All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague.
What to say about The Mission Bell? That it's the spiritual successor to 2002's World Service, yet stronger in diversity, lyrical content and overall songwriting? Certainly it's an accurate statement. The Mission Bell is a unique record in the Delirious? canon. Half the record is gentle, unobtrusive ambient pop that - with one regrettable exception - does not feel the need to end with Coldplay-esque overwrought bombast. Of course, the Matt Redman co- written rocker "Now Is The Time" absolutely loves the bombast and delivers it in spades, climaxing in a dramatic and inspiring bridge. Delirious? plays with listener and critical expectations as well, delivering the shockingly furious brit-pop/punk rock "Paint The Town Red" and the blues/hip-hop infused "Solid Rock," which, to this reviewer's shock, is highlighted by an appearance of overexposed former dctalk member TobyMac. Lyrically, Delirious? comments on the state of a fallen world with cynical brush strokes; finds hope in the darkness; praises Jesus with sincerity, passion and a complete lack of shame; and calls the church to 'ring the mission bell/and storm the gates of hell' in spreading the gospel as Christ called.
Regrettably, The Mission Bell is never the complete breath of fresh air it aspires to be and certainly hints at being throughout the majority of the tracks. Old Delirious? tricks and standbys, such as the loud female gospel vocals, are largely distracting and tiring. It's as if Delirious? was halfway to making the record of their career and then chose to hedge their bets. Mind, the negatives are easily outweighed by the positives; The Mission Bell is nevertheless a fine record.
For the uninitiated, The
Mission Bell is one of the better records of the year, and a fine
example of how quality musicianship and artistry can mingle with heartfelt
and honest praise of God. Long-time Delirious? fans may feel
a curious sensation known as 'Same ol' D:' but find enough fresh
material here to counteract the illness. Of course, the Delirious?
"fans" who maintain indignantly that the band has "gone away from
God's calling" would do well to be advised that a) they are not Delirious?
spiritual counselors, b) it's no longer 1997 and c)they would do
well to discover God's exact calling for their own lives before dictating
such things to individuals they have no
Ryan Ro 12/29/2005
The Mission Bell is a continuity of 2004’s World Service, a new worship release calling believers to pick themselves up and engage the world around them. Yet The Mission Bell is also much more—a return to the excitement and passion of their earlier work, a satisfying if not fully realized stretch in musical style, and a saving grace for a great band that was arguably in a slight rut for the past few years. It’s a record that uplifts the heart and Delirious’ reputation.
The phrase “creative worship”
should rightly incite skepticism, yet if ever there was a case that worship
music could achieve a definable state as genuine art, this is it.
The Mission Bell doesn’t just satisfy any Jesus’-per-minute meters
in its lines of praise: it completely busts them open. This is the
most in-your-face, no-bones-about-it Christian release by any popular
artist this year, and frankly, it’s a breath of fresh air. I suspect
that many listeners, even if not of the Christian faith, may grow to appreciate
Delirious’ openness about their faith and their goals while also delivering
it in an artistically appreciable way. This is not just another popular
Christian artist masking their faith in spiritual vagueness, but neither
is it a hackneyed Christian release sunk by its own agendas. Delirious
is being true to themselves, singing about what they love and what they
long for, and doing it in a way that achieves artistic commendation.
So they’ve got their hearts and musical goals in the right place—do they
produce good material from it?