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Two trendsetters in worship music are releasing new CDs but heading in different directions. While one is staying the worship course, the other is returning to its rock roots.

MercyMe and Third Day have sold millions of CDs and collected an armload of Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association. Their latest discs are likely to keep them rolling.

MercyMe’s phenomenal single “I Can Only Imagine” has garnered the group mainstream fame in the last year. That almost certainly helped the band land four Dove Awards on April 28, including honors for artist of the year and song of the year for “Word of God Speak.”

Capitalizing on this momentum, Bart Millard and the gang have released their third major-label CD, “Undone.”

The disc opens on a mellow note, builds in energy toward the middle and glides to an easy finish. It’s a pattern followed in many of the songs, which rely heavily on piano, acoustic guitar, violin and Millard’s plaintive voice.

Of course, the overall theme is praise but MercyMe often delves a little deeper than other bands. “Everything Impossible” is an interesting song that examines the odd nature of faith, which enables belief in things that seem contradictory — or even impossible. “Here With Me” begins with a haunting melody and builds in tempo as the song describes being “caught up in the wonder of your touch” and surrendering “to your love.”

One of the best songs on the disk is “Homesick,” a soft song inspired by the band members’ loss of several loved ones during the development of “Undone.” It describes how “you’re in a better place” but seeks to know “how long must I wait to be with you.” God is asked for strength to make it through because “I’ve never been more homesick than now.”

One of the few real rockers on the disc is “In The Blink Of An Eye,” which describes how time is short so we need to embrace every moment to create a legacy.

Musically and lyrically, the disc doesn’t mark a departure from the band’s previous efforts so those hoping to hear a little experimentation might be a bit disappointed. However, those who enjoyed “Almost Home” and “Spoken For” will feel at home.

On the Web: www.mercyme.org.

Over the last few years, Third Day has delivered disks that made a tremendous impact on modern worship music, even taking a Dove last month for best worship album for “Offerings II.” However, in it’s new release, “Wire,” the band is rocking again.

From the assertive guitar riffs and pounding drums to Mac Powell’s throaty voice, this CD delivers a punch that will be felt as well as heard. Even the songs that rely on acoustic instruments are packed with power.

The disc opens strong with a pair of songs that look at love. “’Til the Day I Die” promises to love God while “Come On Back To Me” ratchets up the tempo and looks at love from God’s view. Next, the title track, “Wire,” uses the image of a high-wire act and a haunting tune to capture the anxiety of waking through daily life.

Interestingly, two songs poke holes in the fame and fortune of the music industry. “Rock Star” is about wanting to become a star, but concludes: “No, I ain’t got nothing/ But, to you I’m something/ Something so much more.” Of course, the lyrics about not having what it takes don’t ring quite right coming from Powell’s lips. This is a guy who has a bobble-head doll in his likeness. The other song is “Billy Brown,” which examines the nature of superstardom.

Despite the rocking nature of this disc, I could see a few of the songs making their way into a few worship services. “I Believe” and “You Are Mine” are two solid contenders.

And a few of the songs do have a more acoustic — and thoughtful — bent. “It’s A Shame” examines fear, pain and sorrow. And the final track, “I Will Hold My Head High,” is a strong song of defiance that vows, “Beat me up and drag me down/I’ll never be afraid.”

Overall, “Wire” offers powerful music and a powerful message.

On the Web: www.thirdday.com. True fans might want to consider the bobble-head dolls.

— Today’s Praise is a roundup of news and reviews from the contemporary Christian music industry. It appears twice a month on the Religion page.

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