Provident Label Group
Release Date: October 19th 2018
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- Hallelujah Lives In Me
- Glory To Glory
- Always Loved Me
- For Your Love
- Pulling Me In
- Your Joy Alone
- Leave It All
- Jealous For My Heart
- You Came Running
- For Me
- The More Of You I See
- Holy Desire
Releasing their debut album God that Saves a couple of years ago, Iron Bell Music is an inspiring worship group based out of Louisville Kentucky. Really, I hear you say, another worship group, don’t we have enough of those already? And yeah, that’s definitely true, I hear your frustrations. We have all of the incarnations of Hillsong, along with Jesus Culture, Bethel Music, Planetshakers, Desperation Band, All Sons And Daughters, Elevation Worship, Vertical Worship, Mosaic MSC, Worship Central, Soul Survivor…you get my picture, the list goes on and on. I’ve only just listed the worship bands! Not the solo artists, nor even the bands with a worship slant like Leeland or Crowder- I won’t though… The main point here is that while some listeners and critics may not even give Iron Bell Music a chance, in the sense that they could easily be classified as another worship band adding not much variety and uniqueness to the whole worship experience; what these guys did in their debut is commendable at least, given the tough niche market. Last year the band also unveiled their sophomore project Glory To Glory, and as much as I somewhat enjoyed God Who Saves, I didn’t have an inkling to listen to this project…until now when I decided to take the plunge. The result was me listening to an honest, emotional and heartfelt album that deserves multiple listens on the strength of lead singer Stephen McWhirter’s vocals alone! With the result of this second album being 13 songs of raw unbridled passion and earnest praise to our Lord and Saviour; is it accurate if I were to say that Glory To Glory is very original and ground-breaking in the worship genre? No it’s not accurate! But is Glory To Glory at least enjoyable and worth many listens before the year ends? Of course it is! So let’s dive in a see what makes this album so special.
Well…special isn’t quite the word I’d use. Sorry for giving you all the wrong impression. The album is solid, quite impressive from a technical standpoint, but it’s not that ‘wow!’ or flash. These tracks are unassuming and effective at getting us into that space of worship, but if you go to an Iron Bell concert expecting Jesus Culture, you’d be severely disappointed. Album opener “Hallelujah Lives In Me” is a perfect example of this. It’s an out-and-out worship anthem, where Stephen powerfully relays to us across big booming guitars in his unmistakable Zach Williams-like voice that Jesus is to be glorified because He lives in us and He reigns in us also, and is pleasing to listen to; but sing-ability and catchiness isn’t present here. No songs would work on K-Love radio, but perhaps Iron Bell Music aren’t looking for that type of success- just lives turned to Jesus.
The title track is next and is enjoyable, as Stephen delivers a heartfelt ballad that essentially relays to us that Jesus finishes everything He starts, and He’ll use any situation from glory to glory; while “Always Loved Me” vividly describes the ways that God has always loved us, that ‘…You’re not who I heard You were, not keeping score but full of mercy, You’re not all the lies I’ve bought, not disappointed God, no, You are proud of me…’. While “For Your Love” is a personal highlight of mine, as this simple yet effective, honest and heartfelt track led by big booming southern gospel style guitars, has the potential to be a single, with Stephen passionately imparting to us that we ought to devote our entire lives to Jesus because of the sacrifices that He has made for us. And “Pulling Me In”, exquisite in delivery by Joel Gerdis, is lyrically cliché unfortunately- Bebo Norman’s song of a similar name is much more resonating and impacting in my opinion.
“Your Joy Alone” has Stephen sounding eerily like Matt Maher, which is in fact eerie when you think about it, as Stephen reiterates that each one of us can rely and depend on the joy of Jesus, which is in fact our strength; while another album highlight is the guitar led mid-tempo hard-hitting yet hopeful “Leave It All”, an Easter themed song which depicts the enormity of Jesus’ love for us- so much that He died on the cross so that we all may live. The acoustic guitar driven light ballad “Jealous For My Heart” is next, and contains quite a lot of lyrical repetition; yet is nonetheless stirring and compelling- as Stephen outlines that as an almighty God, He is also a jealous God, as He longs for everyone to be in relationship with Him. While country, bluegrass and southern gospel is what the band dive into and experiment with next in “You Come Running”, sung by Joel once again, and though I can commend the music, the lyrics are a tad uninspired, given that Chris Tomlin previously recorded “Come Home Running” all those years ago!
The lullaby-ish “Lovely” is next (with only one verse!), and though the theme is admirable, given that the group impart to us that Jesus is lovely and faithful and deserving of all of our praises; the music put me to sleep, which isn’t a good thing at all! But when the tempo comes back to the more celebratory and the more lively, we are met with a winner here, as Stephen eloquently relays in “For Me”, that ‘…no height, no depth, no length, nor width, can stop the love You freely give…’, a sentiment that we all can agree upon; while the penultimate track “More Of You I See” is the pinnacle of the album, and probably the best track present, with Stephen and co. recording a potential modern hymn that deserves multiple listens and multiple recommendations to friends and family, with Joel singing out ‘…the more of You I see, the more You’re changing me, let my heart be overwhelmed by who You are…’. The album then ends with the free worship/spontaneous/spoken word 10 minute piece “Holy Desire”, which seems somewhat out of place here, but nonetheless impacting and powerful.
Glory To Glory from Iron Bell Music, isn’t that flash and engaging (in the sense of CCM/pop!) but is nonetheless needed in the worship genre, as their focus is on Jesus. With most of the tracks being slower tempo ballads, it’s a far cry from the grandiose and bigness of other worship movements such as Passion, Hillsong, Planetshakers, or Jesus Culture; however I reckon this overall change of pace is rather refreshing. On par with the first album, Glory To Glory is worth plenty more listens before the year finishes, even if it did release last year. You should listen to this one…even if it is to conclude that you prefer another artist with much more presence. For those of you though who are looking for a music change but prefer to commune with God personally, well maybe this album is for you!
3 songs to listen to: For Your Love, Leave It All, More Of You I See
RIYL: The Neverclaim, Planetshakers, Hillsong UNITED, Phil Wickham, Matt Maher, Jesus Culture