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Deluge: Live from Bethany World Prayer Center

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Mar
Deluge: Live from Bethany World Prayer Center
Sounds like … modern worship with influences as varied as Green Day, Mars Volta, Bloc Party, and The Police, but with lyrics that recall Hillsong United and early SonicfloodAt a glance … rock-solid musicianship and an inventive, hard-to-peg style distinguish Deluge from countless other sound-alikes in today's modern worshipTrack Listing Intro I Believe Make It Loud Crazy I Need You Open Up the Sky Oceans He Is the Holy One Worshiping You Revolution Lifting My Hands Dear Jesus Whisper His Name Make Us Holy

Will the real Jonathan Stockstill please stand up? He may not be a household name, but the talented worship leader was standing front and center for 2006's Let the Church Rise, the national debut for Bethany World Prayer Center, a multicultural congregation that provided significant relief to hundreds of Katrina evacuees. The album itself was an adept representation of the ethnic makeup of the church, as it mixed contemporary praise with gospel and pop elements, plus Stockstill's own rich baritone.

The man is front and center again for Deluge: Live from Bethany World Prayer Center, a more rock-leaning project arising out of the church's youth ministry. On paper, that shouldn't be a problem. After all, Hillsong worship leaders Joel Houston and Marty Sampson collaborate both with the adult and youth worship teams.

Deluge, however, is a little different. In the case of the Hillsong guys, there's still some stylistic common ground between grown-ups and kids. Not so with Deluge—the band sounds nothing like its grown-up counterpart, and that could be a good thing. For starters, there's Stockstill's voice—soulful, yes, but also capable of the sort of archetypal, Top 40 pop/rock that Jeremy Camp is known for (but less grungy). That means he's well suited to Deluge's main forte.

And what a forte it is. For the first half-hour or so of playing time, it's hard to nail down who exactly Deluge sounds like. One moment they channel early-day Green Day ("Make It Loud"), only to recall "Message in a Bottle" by The Police in the next ("I Believe"), and they can even do a believable Mars Volta impression ("Crazy"). There are some U2-isms in spots ("I Need You"), but they serve as breathers among all the raw, rock 'n' roll dynamics at play.

Things become decidedly more commonplace as the album progresses, but they're never aberrantly ordinary or middle-of-the-road. Stockstill is a piano man, so he anchors the songs with enough personality and color to avoid musical cliché, like the interesting "Oceans" and the ardent "Worshiping You." Bottom line, Deluge is a pleasant surprise—one of 2008's most promising debuts in modern worship.

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