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Mission Bell
Artist: Delirious?
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 
personal contact with.


Ryan Ro 12/29/2005

When he's not hunting dinosaurs in a prehistoric world, Ryan Ro is the webmaster  for Canuck metalheads Elijah's Tomb and owner of webzine

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?
Absolutely.  The Mission Bell is, for the most part, one captivating worship song after another.  Urgent and gliding melodies are underlined with ambient effects, providing just the right balance of flair and nuance.  Gospel choirs are used abundantly throughout, and while they seem irrelevant and frivolous in a couple select songs, tracks like “Solid Rock” and “Miracle Maker” are practically made by their excellent choir backing.  In fact, the good stuff on The Mission Bell is so good, if the band had slightly reworked a couple songs and excluded one or two others, this may have been a contender for record of the year.  Instead, The Mission Bell is a fantastic release with a couple blemishes, deserving of critical praise yet not the masterpiece it reaches so close to becoming. 
Yet even with its small problems, The Mission Bell instills a great sense of hope in more ways than one—it lifts the listener up with beautiful, compelling worship, and it comforts fans with the knowledge that, after a decade in the business, Delirious? is still one heck of a great Britpop/worship band.  The D boys are as capable as they have ever been, and with The Mission Bell, they’re set on course to produce even greater work.  
Jonathan Avants 12/30/05



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