Hillsong United are on peak form. They’ve toured 42 nations, played on every continent and written some of today’s biggest worship anthems. 2006’s United We Stand record has rightly been recognised as one of the greatest worship albums ever released.
In 2011 they became the first Christian band to sell out the 18,000 capacity Staples Centre in LA. 2013’s “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” is still the song of the moment. Today, the director of Jay-Z’s Fade To Black fi lm is gearing up to release a documentary about Hillsong United (Let Hope Rise, in American cinemas from Sept 30). Hillsong United’s sound, despite arguably being aimed at teenagers, students and 20s, is crossgenerational.
Can all this collective momentum really continue? On the morning of the release of Empires it felt like every Christian celebrity in the world was tweeting endorsements of this
record. Even Justin Bieber recommended it on his Instagram page. But it took this reviewer at least eight listens to like, let alone love Empires. This album is so dense and varied that it takes plenty of time to appreciate the lengths the team has gone to in producing such a stunning release. Empires is not an instant hit. It’s a grower.
But given time, patience, and a fabulous set of headphones, the listener will end up delighting in an astonishing record. All 12 tracks are astoundingly good. Criticism, although possible, is genuinely diffi cult. All the lead vocalists have a tendency to whisper their lyrics. While this adds emotional depth, once noticed, it can become distracting. There are also very few upbeat songs. But these are minor inconveniences. This is a serious contender for the best Hillsong album ever to be released. Must hear tracks include “Here Now (Madness)”, “Touch The Sky”, “Even When It Hurts (Praise Song)” and “Prince of Peace”
July 28th, 2015 - Posted & Written by Together Magazine