Hillsong United - 17 Years Strong with Release of "Zion"
Hillsong United has just released their newest studio album entitled, Zion. As to be expected, their sound has evolved over the years just like they have. From their start as teenagers in Australia just wanting to play their original songs in a youth band to late 20's and 30's somethings who have changed the landscape of worship music for this generation.
Hillsong United has broken down the barriers of worship music from their first records, Go (1998) and Everyday (1999) to my personal favorite record of theirs, Tear Down the Walls (2009) with such songs as "No Reason to Hide", "Freedom is Here" and "Yours Forever". They made it acceptable and cool to write songs that pushed the musical envelope for what worship music was at the time. Hillsong United was not afraid to play off of guitar riffs and made songs that weren't as easy to digest after a first listen as say a Chris Tomlin or Vineyard song. Sometimes you had to listen to a song 10 times to really get the hook stuck in your head or remember the flow and structure of the song (I know this from leading several of the songs myself during worship sets). HU made songs with more musical layers and more twists and turns then ever before.
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With Zion, HU has shown a new musical direction again. On the album overall, their is a more open feel with many more key/synth tracks and not so many aggressive and guitar riffs as on past records. The beauty I have felt from my first few listens of the record is allowing the vocals a new capacity to breathe on tracks such as "A Million Suns" where the vocals are absolutely stunning. Some have said it has a more 80's and new wave feel with the keys and processed drum beats being more prominent in this album. A good example would be "Love is War", which includes an incredibly catchy keys riff that is just as catchy as a vocal melody and also seems to use different vocal effects not normally associated with a Hillsong United record. I always have a strong connection to the more guitar driven sound Hillsong United has had in the past, but I have no doubt Zion will grow on me just like every Hillsong record always does. What do you guys think of Zion? What is your favorite song or aspect of the record?
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