Sound — 8
Yet another interesting album from Delirious? Certainly a decent followup to 2004's "World Service." Martin Smith carries on with his signature vocals, and Stu G's riffs remain virtually unchanged from their debut release.
The album starts out with the somewhat mediocre track "Stronger." However, the tone of the album is quickly found in the second song "Now Is the Time." A heavy driving riff starts the intro, and really sets off the rest of the album. Following "Now is the Time" comes "Solid Rock," a fairly solid song (pun intended). This song features a rapped bridge, courtesy of one Tobymac. A welcome change from Delirious? straight pop-rock style on previous albums. "All This Time" is up next. This number is a straight-up power ballad, with a melodic solo. The next track, "Miracle Maker" feels oddly out of place on the album, and adds a very grim feeling to it. This feeling is quickly removed on the next track "Here I Am Send Me." This song is intense but uplifting, with driving riffs similar to "Now Is the Time." The intensity continues in "Fires Burn," a track which starts off dark, but eventually bursts into a powerful melody. The intensity of these tracks is dispelled in the next one: "Our God Reigns." A vast, symphonic piece, "Our God Reigns" is one of the highlights of the album. The instrumentals complement the lyrics well, in a reflective manner at the beginning, and in a triumphant manner towards the end. The next track "Love Is a Miracle" seems to have almost been an afterthought. With a blues/gospel style at odds with the rest of the album, this song seems more in place with the band's early "Cutting Edge" work. Fortunately, the next song returns to the generally intense feel of the album. "Paint the Town Red" is a surprisingly aggressive song for Delirious?, with a generally dissonant sound to it. It has the feel of unrealized hardcore punk song to it. The next track "Take Off My Shows" loses all of the momentum gained in "Paint the Town Red." Prominently featuring an e-bow, this song has a very restrained-triumphant feel to it. The last piece on the album "I'll See You" is a very reflective track, with all the dissonance and none of the enthusiasm of "Paint the Town Red." Musically, it seems a very weak ending to what was generally an intense and driven album.
Overall, the album feels disconnected musically, with reflective and slow songs interspersed randomly between pop punk-style tracks. Though it definitely has potential, this album seems to have just been arranged wrong. If taken individually, each song is certainly a masterpiece in its own right. However, when taken together, each track is dulled in value. Certainly a good effort though. The album uses various instrumentals, mainly focusing on guitars and synthesizers, which are Delirious?'s primary instruments on most of their albums. Strings are used effectively on some of the later tracks. The quality of the sound seems to be fairly good, and certain is not hard to listen to. Overall, while this is not Delirious?'s best album musically, it is still enjoyable to listen to.
Lyrics — 6
Lyrically, the album seems to jump around, but with a driving sense of urgency present in many of the tracks.
"Stronger" starts off the album with enthusiasm, and this is continued into "Now Is the Time" and "Solid Rock" which begin to gain the sense of urgency. This sense of urgency is lost in "All This Time" and "Miracle Maker" which are highly reflective and contemplative tracks. "Here I Am Send Me" and "Fires Burn" return to this theme of urgency, but it is derailed in "Our God Reigns." This track is lyrically by far the highest point on the album. Featuring critical lyrics involving current events (at the time anyway), this track sounds U2-ish in its message. The next track "Love Is a Miracle" is something of a disaster in comparison, with lyrics that seem to have been thought up in a half an hour. The contrast between the lyrics and the music on this song doesn't help its case. However, all of its follies are soon forgotten when "Paint the Town Red" blares on. Lyrically, "Paint the Town Red" seems more fit to be a metal song than a punk-influenced rock number. With violent and aggressive messages throughout it, it lends a very dire feeling to the album. It is certainly one of the most conservatively Christian tracks ever produced by Delirious? The last two songs off the album "Take Off My Shoes" and "I'll See You" both deal with the afterlife, and ascending to heaven. They have a hopeful and somewhat triumphant feel to them. Lyrically, they are beautiful. Unfortunately, the music accompanying them is quite mediocre, and definitely takes away from their strength.
Overall, the music and the lyrics on the album seem to vary in the agreement between them. Some tracks seem to be quite tight in this area, while others seem lazily done. "Paint the Town Red" and "Our God Reigns" are certainly two of the best songs in this area. While Smith's skills at songwriting are certainly good, this album perhaps should have been worked on for a little while longer before it was released.
Overall Impression — 7
"The Mission Bell" is a decent effort from Delirious?, and certainly not their worst album, but it does seem to be lacking in quality compared to their immediate effort preceding it "World Service." It lacks the sense of cohesion found to a greater degree on most of their earlier albums, both lyrically and musically.
The highlights of the album are "Our God Reigns," "Paint the Town Red," "Solid Rock" and "Now Is the Time." "Here I Am Send Me" and "All This Time" receive honorable mentions for being decent songs. The rest of the album seems to be pieced together around these songs, and is severely lacking in direction or quality (with perhaps the exception of "Fires Burn").
While I enjoy the sense of conviction and urgency on some of the tracks, this is partially ruined by the generally lackluster state of some of the other tracks. The album is not particularly enjoyable to listen to straight through. It simply seems too random. However, despite its mistake and flaws, I still like this album, and would replace it if it was damaged or lost.