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**** Quite a solid album, there was nothing on here I didn't enjoy and some very good tracks, with the highlight surprisingly being the ridiculously long song. I liked this more than the only other Hillsong album I've heard.
****** ****** It had been 2 years since a studio album by Hillsong had come out and Hillsong really announced themselves to be 'doing something different' with this new one. While I don't feel that goal was particularly achieved, I think they had some great innovation in the production of this album and a year of constant exposure to this has now convinced me that this is one of their best albums ever.
When it comes to lyrics, the style of vocals or the general mood, this is very stock standard Hillsong, although there is nothing bad about that. Some interesting imagery and metaphors make some cool lyrics and the changing of vocalists also helps the album not to sound too samey. The production, on the other hand, really shines with this effort with massive album highlights and climaxes really achieving a grandeur effect in "Love Is War," "Nothing Like Your Love," and "King of Heaven." This is in addition to the exploration of many cool sounds throughout which helps create a strong sense of atmosphere and therefore really enhanced my listening experience of the album.
I loved the first 3 singles at first: "Scandal of Grace," "Heartbeats," and "Relentless," but in the end, those 3 ended up getting a bit worn for me and I began to fall in love with the album tracks instead, as I began to become familiar with those tracks and allowed them to grow on me. In a way, this was understandable though, as the singles were definitely strong songs by themselves but were overshadowed by the album tracks when listening to the album in its context and entirety. The singles were also much safer and innocuous than the others which made them understable choices for singles, but also led to them to wear out quicker.
The best tracks would be the songs with 6* below. A special mention goes to "Arise." I ignored the bonus tracks for a long time but that one was absolutely magical from first listen.
Track listing: (Numbers in brackets denote rating of 6, * indicate released singles)
1. Relentless * (5) 2. Up In Arms (6) 3. Scandal Of Grace * (4) 4. Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) * (4) 5. Stay And Wait (6) 6. Mercy Mercy (6) 7. Love Is War (6) 8. Nothing Like Your Love (6) 9. Zion (Interlude) (4) 10. Heartbeats * (5) 11. A Million Suns (3) 12. Tapestry (4) 13. King of Heaven (6) 14. Arise (6) 15. Mountain (5)