The UK Album Chart hosted a surprise entry at No. 75 as Worship Central’s new live album ‘Spirit Break Out’ became one of the fastest-selling Worship albums ever.
Anthemic. Exhilarating. Climatic. Modern. This 14 track album features recent songs written and sung by the UK’s most prominent worship leaders, and the backing vocals of 2000 enthusiastic worshippers at the HMV Forum, London.
It’s fallen to me to give insight into the twists and turns of this exciting release in the following in-depth review. To mix things up a bit, the metaphor of a 100m sprint is employed in the subtitles...
Snap start and up to speed
Tim Hughes begins with what has become something of trademark: the revamped hymn. The first minute of ‘Spirit of the Living God’ sets out a sense of anticipation, before lift off is achieved as Tim’s phenomenal range is demonstrated through an octave jump. While this first piece lasts just two minutes, it firmly establishes the tone and focus of the music that follows.
The rock/pop anthem ‘New Day’ is then belted by Ben Cantelon before he launches into his widely favoured ‘Saviour of the World’. This version features sound effects that add depth and variation to the feel, as well as a booming bass line that would make any whale smile. This song is destined to be a classic.
Tim Hughes then returns for the fourth track, singing ‘At Your Name’ which, despite a slightly clunky mid-section, displays the apt use of a range of sounds that Gotye would be proud of. A contemporary feel comparable to the recent work of the David Crowder is achieved - and the live congregation love it.
Mood-lightening yet intensity-maintaining, Nikki Fletcher’s song ‘Wait For You’ is a real gem. With fewer layers, the vocal on this track is made crystal clear and the message of Psalm 46 - ‘Be still and know that I am God’ - is articulated through heartfelt worship. The listener is caught in two minds over whether to move on to listen to the title track, or whether to play this one on repeat.
Head up and steaming along
‘Spirit Break Out’ is something of an acquired taste. Luke Hellebronth’s collaboration with Myles Dhillon is refreshing and clearly expresses the worshipper’s desire to see the work of the Holy Spirit ‘break out’. In my opinion though, it sounds as though a number of catch-lines have been thrown together and played on repeat - the rap interjects at a surprising interval, but lacks flow. Also, Luke’s apparent inability to pronounce the ‘t’ and the end of ‘Spirit Break Out’ is irritating. This said, the song is widely sung by congregations across the UK and has received positive reviews from other sources, notably Jono Davies of ‘louderthanthemusic’.
The three songs that follow return to the familiar vein of a stadium rock sound, with anthemic choruses that celebrate God’s glory and his purposes for us, his people. Hellebronth’s ‘Now Is The Time For Us’ features a hip-hop crossover that works very well to appeal to more modern music tastes. This doesn’t feel like a manufactured move; but more a natural progression that fits with the variation shown over the course of the album.
Tim Hughes sings the 11th and 12th tracks ‘Counting On Your Name’ and ‘Wake Up’ stressing the urgency with which Christians should approach their faith, coming from the assurance of Christ’s sacrifice. Alarmingly (to one who shares my musical preferences) ‘Wake Up’ threatens dubstep in the later part of the song, as the powerful bass line carries it to a climatic finish.
Flying to the finish
‘Undivided Love’ sees Ben Cantelon return to sing a touching response to God’s welcoming all people into his family. The fragility and vulnerability in his voice, the light and melodic piano part, and the honest yet powerful lyrics make this extra special.
Though Cantelon would seem hard to follow, this is no competition... next, Nikki Fletcher offers the anthem ‘All Glory’. Very much of the Hillsong ilk, this song has a fantastic later section where all the instruments fall away. What is left: a strong drum beat and the harmonising voices of the 2000 people present. The sound achieved is a inspiring and unique balance between a Gospel choir and the voices of a passionate rugby crowd. A fitting finale.
Listening to this album in its entirety, it’s only possible to give it an overwhelmingly positive report. Fabulous musicianship, genre-crossover, variation, and most of all a heart of worshipful celebration are the buzz words for this material by Worship Central. Great to listen to, to worship with, and to share with friends, these songs will bless you, your church and (if you play it loud enough) perhaps even your neighbours!
March 21st, 2012 - Posted & Written by Peter Harrison