The Mission Bell
- reviewed by Christa Banister Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2005 1 Dec
- Now Is the Time
- Solid Rock
- All This Time
- Miracle Maker
- Here I Am
- Fires Burn
- Our God Reigns
- Love Is a Miracle
- Paint the Town Red
- Take Off My Shoes
- I See You When I Get There
While there are usually plenty of critical props for a band willing to step out from the familiar sound and style that made it popular in the first place, fans aren't always quite ready to make the creative switch. It's a tough line to tow artistically, and Delirious has learned the lesson the hard way as earlier attempts to be a little more experimental (think
But, with the release of last year's
With an important message, there's an equally intriguing soundtrack. Instead of relying on the tried-and-true, U2-meets-Coldplay sound that's served well in the past, Delirious creatively gets out of its comfort zone without veering too far into the kind of unfamiliar territory that would leave the faithful scratching their heads.
The album kicks off with "Stronger" (also on the recent The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe compilation), a classic pop/rock gem that simmers slowly before segueing into a gorgeous chorus that's universal enough for mainstream airplay and accessible enough for a Sunday morning church service. "Now is the Time," the album's first single, has the anthemic quality of Delirious' "History Maker" but with a far catchier hook and memorable, soaring guitars that add an exclamation point to the message.
However, the first real indication that this isn't the same ol' Delirious is the band's innovative spin on the classic hymn "Solid Rock." Trust me, this isn't the same song from your mother's hymnbook. Smith may start things off on a pretty mellow note, but a few special guests easily steal the spotlight as a booming gospel choir powerfully provides the soul for the chorus. Then, in another unexpected move, tobyMac adds a rap interlude to the mix. While a guest rap spot doesn't usually work well, especially in a song like this, the tasteful execution here adds a lot of punch.
Then, keeping things interesting, the mood switches yet again with "All This Time" which finds Smith in a more brooding vocal state. While the song serves as a commentary on the state of the world, Smith isn't afraid to point judgment right back at himself: "I wrestle with the thoughts I keep / if I sow the seed of arrogance then it's loneliness I'll reap."
An even more somber—yet hopeful—frame of mind continues with the plaintive, piano-driven, "Miracle Maker," one of the disc's most moving moments, because who hasn't been here before: "I'm waiting here for my life to change / When the waters stir you can rearrange me / Just one touch is all I need / I've nothing much but the wounds I feel / I'm looking for the hand of the miracle man."
"Our God Reigns" does a great job of pushing some relevant hot buttons on abortion, selfish ambitions and the quest for physical perfection that can provide further discussion fodder after the iPod's been put away. "Love Is a Miracle" is also a timely reminder wrapped around another stellar, choir-backed chorus, while "Paint the Town Red" is probably the most enjoyable listen from a musical perspective with its high-energy, arena rock sound that'll likely cause listeners to hit repeat.
Ultimately, the 12 songs on