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Hillsong United - Zion
Last modified: 21 Dec 2012

Hillsong United - Zion
Buy 'Zion'
Hillsong United are fronted by worship leaders Joel Houston, Jad Gillies and Jonathon 'JD' Douglass. With many band changes over the last few years, for me the Hillsong United sound has moved away from what Hillsong itself is doing. It's great to see United producing their own interesting sounds and this latest album 'Zion' is another step forward in making music that will inspire a new generation.



'Zion' is the third studio album from the current evolution of the band, following previous studio albums 'Aftermath' (2011) and 'All of the Above' (2007). What does this album sound like? Well, in three words: Epic, Brilliant and Original.


The chorus of opening track Relentless really got to me and pulled at my soul. "You carry us, carry us... cover you, cover us with Your endless grace". Grace actually seems to be a massive theme in all of the album tracks, but this synth pop/rock opener really sets the tone for the whole album. It's great to see Hillsong United again being so creative, with some amazing drumming on this album. I particularly love the modern dance synth sound on this first song, and the passion you expect from Hillsong United hasn't disappeared, but there aren't quite as many guitars on the album.

We then move into a slower dance beat for Up In Arms. This song is a slow burner and takes time to get going, it doesn't have the big chorus you might expect, instead the song keeps a similar tempo and musical dimension throughout. But I found myself getting lost in worship over and over again with the amazing truthful words to God. This song has a similar sound to the opening track but there is a nice guitar riff pulling us back to a few tones we heard on the last album.

'Scandal Of Grace' is like an emotional roller-coaster of worship. I was left breathless and in awe of God's grace during these four minutes of worship. Hillsong United have managed to create a song that captures the beauty of God and the musical side is emphatic and anthemic. Another stunning tune and for me one of the best tracks on the album.

Oceans has a stunning orchestral opening before out of nowhere a voice hits you. The voice is stunning, yet haunting, all in the same breath. "When nations rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace, for I am Yours, You are mine". The song then builds musically from atmospheric haunting tones to sheer epicness. I can hear people just getting lost in worship at a Hillsong conference to this song.

The album as a whole has some very interesting modern sounds, be it loops or hoops and other crazy keyboard stuff. Stay and Wait is no different, it has those 'interesting' sounds and is actually a little bit more Coldplay than a lot of the other tracks. It's great to see the band pushing the Hillsong United sound forward and not resting on what they know might be safe.

Mercy Mercy uses some fascinating bass work that underlays the whole basis of this song. With a nice guitar riff over the top of the vocals and synth work, they create an intimate yet grand feeling of worship. This song doesn't burst into a big rock chorus, but that's where the beauty is. For me, the whole song is summed up in one line, "Mercy mercy, bring me to my knees", what a great line that is delivered so well on this album. 


Love Is War is an interesting title and I really didn't know what to expect from it. United again use a lot of different synths sounds to keep the listener interested. Once the nicety of the 80's sounding synth has taken us through the first verse, the whole song just bursts into life like a new day dawning over the horizon. Wow. This song blew me away, it is truly monumental.

The album closes with a very simple piano lead track, King Of Heaven. The chorus is so simple yet at the same time so beautiful. The piano and vocals sing out "Emmanuel, God with us". It is the perfect way to end this epic album, with those amazing words of worship. The song slowly builds into a crescendo of worship.

This album is brilliant, using modern sounds to create songs full of the grace of God, leaving the listener with a wonderful sense of worship. Any album that stops you in your tracks like that is doing what it's meant to do.

Review by Jono Davies

Standout Tracks
Scandal Of Grace
Mercy Mercy
Nothing Like Your Love
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