CD Review of God Is a Bullet by The Mission UK

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God Is a Bullet
starstarstarno starno star Label: Oblivion / Cooking Vinyl
Released: 2007
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There’s something very comforting and familiar about God Is a Bullet, the seventh album from the Mission UK (and their first in more than half a decade)…but, then, the problem with familiarity has always been that it breeds both comfort and contempt.

Sorry, that sounds a bit harsh, doesn’t it? Let’s try that again…and, this time, let’s start by reminding people exactly who the Mission UK are.

Once upon a time, back in the dark ages which have since come to be known as the gothic rock era, there was a band known as the Sisters of Mercy, and, as is only appropriate for such an age, they were very dark, indeed; this darkness came predominantly from the fact that the band’s lead singer, Andrew Eldritch, had a voice that sounded not entirely like Satan having a bad throat day. As it happens, however, there was another singer in the band – Wayne Hussey, who could produce vocals just as dark but far, far smoother – and when it became apparent to the rest of the Sisters that Eldritch wasn’t much of a people person, Hussey split from the ranks with his fellow bandmate, Craig Adams, and founded the Mission…or, if you’re in the States, the Mission UK.

Despite being considered full-fledged members of the gothic rock movement, however, looking at the back catalog of the Mission UK during their four proper studio albums on Phonogram Records finds this trend: goth (God’s Own Medicine, 1987), still mostly goth (Children, 1988), far more arena rock than goth (Carved in Sand, 1990), and almost no sign of goth at all, really (Masque, 1992). Even with this clear and obvious transition away from the side of darkness, though, Hussey’s voice remained at the forefront, making each of these releases still sound quite definitively like the work of the Mission UK. Shame about the two indie releases that followed, though; neither 1995’s Neverland nor 1996’s Blue did much of anything to impress, which no doubt had a hand in the band deciding to take a several-year hiatus following the release of the latter.

With God Is a Bullet, what we have is a very acceptable return to the band’s early ‘90s sound, with occasional sonic reminders of their more gothic past. This means that they’re two-for-two within the 2000s, since 2001’s Aura found the band recovering from their creative slump with considerable success as well, but it also begs the question, “Why so long between albums, given that it’s clear that no new ground is being broke in the interim?” Part of it, presumably, can be attributed to the band getting comfortable in its skin again, given that Hussey’s got two new members out of a grand total of four; unfortunately, with several tracks sounding strikingly reminiscent of earlier Mission songs, one has to consider that it may just be taking him longer to figure out how to rewrite all the early material enough to make it sound vaguely new.

You know, I’m beginning to think there isn’t any way to keep this review from slipping into sounding harsh, so maybe I should just go ahead and wrap things up.

If you’re a goth who’s all grown up but still likes to keep things at least a little dark, God Is a Bullet offers just enough of that sound to make you happy; it’s not really gothic rock by any stretch of the imagination, but, like Carved in Sand and Masque, there’s still no question that it’s the work of the Mission UK.

~Will Harris