***** As an avid fan of Hillsong, I always look forward to their yearly "Live" albums and their "United" - studio - albums always make an interesting collection in addition to that. It has been 3 years since their last United album, Aftermath, and it has been interesting in how much they have developed during that time.
A much heavier prominence of the synthesizer with much experimentation with eletronica is the obvious focus of this album and overall I think it has worked very well. Every track really encompasses a really beautiful atmospheric filled with captivating vocal melodies, very unique and interesting instrumental timbres and sounds or just the fact that all the parts of the song blend in so well with each other - a very famous trademark of Hillsong's and something they execute well every time.
Dullness and boredom are the achilles' heel for all of Hillsong's music on the other hand but I feel they have addressed this to an extent. It was certainly difficult to maintain my attention and interest the entire time but maybe more listens will counter that. May I suggests slightly more variation with some tracks? I think a few acoustic synth-less tracks could have helped, such as in the introduction to "Scandal of Grace."
It is for this reason that I usually prefer the "Live" albums by Hillsong because I think the addition of having the crowd singing along really enhances the energy and atmosphere that a lot of their songs lack, but I think Hillsong United have really justified that with this album and they really have brought a polished piece of work with Zion.
The official lead single "Scandal of Grace" was I think an excellent choice, with many other tracks being great too. It was difficult to mention a highlight, although I do recommend Heartbeats as well.
Track listing: (Numbers in brackets denote rating of 5, * indicate released singles)
1. Relentless (5) 2. Up In Arms (4) 3. Scandal Of Grace * (5) 4. Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) (4) 5. Stay And Wait (5) 6. Mercy Mercy (5) 7. Love Is War (5) 8. Nothing Like Your Love (5) 9. Zion (Interlude) (4) 10. Heartbeats (5) 11. A Million Suns (3) 12. Tapestry (4) 13. King of Heaven (4)
Album average: 4.46 Final album grade: B
All these reviews are likely to change because Hillsong's songs are such growers for me! We'll see in the future.
**** 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.