Album Review: The Mission – “The Brightest Light”
While many of their counterparts from the ’80s goth scene have come, gone and reformed, the Mission are one of those bands who simply never went away. “The Brightest Light” is actually their ninth album and while I think it’s fair to say that their output did take a bit of a dip quality wise in the mid-’90s, their previous effort “God Is A Bullet” was actually a decent return to form, probably their best for a good fifteen years or so. And with “The Brightest Light”, I’m happy to report that they’ve kept the high standard up.
First things first, if you’re expecting the ethereal goths who gave us classics like “Wasteland” and “Severina” then this album may come out of left field a bit. While it sees three quarters of the classic Mission line-up (frontman Wayne Hussey, guitarist Simon Hinkler and bassist Craig Adams) reunited for the first time in twenty odd years, “The Brightest Light” actually bears little resemblance to their output of old. Instead, where we find the Mission in 2013 is adopting the mantle of a 21st century straight-up rock band – opening track “Black Cat Bone” with its pounding bassline and voodoo imagery in the lyrics sets the stall out right from the off. The thing is, while the Mission have toyed with layering the guitars and heaviness on before (notably on aforementioned mid-’90s quality dip efforts “Blue” and “Neverland”), “The Brightest Light” actually sees them nailing this sound pretty damn well.
Case in point is track two, “Everything But The Squeal” which blasts in on a feral rolling drumbeat with Hinkler laying down a crushing riff over the top while Hussey howls out the lyrics like a wolf on heat. As I say, it’s maybe not what you’re expecting if you remember the Mission’s most commercially successful period, but it rocks like an absolute bugger.
In fact, that’s the key of this album, it’s the sound of a group of very talented old-timers kicking out the jams, making the album that you suspect they always wanted to make and having an absolute blast doing it from the Stonesy reference points of “The Girl In The Fur Skin Rug” and “Just Another Pawn In Your Game” to the almost Urban Voodoo Machine swamp blues of “Ain’t No Prayer In The Bible Can Save Us” and veering from the sunny optimism of “Born Under A Good Sign” to the desolate acoustics of “When The Trap Clicks Shut Behind Us”.
In summary then, if you’re an old school Mission fan then this may surprise you a bit initially, but it’s the sound of a band moving comfortably forward with enough subtle nods to their past to keep the faithful happy (not least on the closing “Litany To The Faithful”). If you’re new to them then I would actually say that “The Brightest Light” is actually as good a place as any to start (and be honest, how many bands from this era can you really say that about when it comes to their new material?). Either way, the reunited Mission have delivered one hell of an effort here. Good work chaps.