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Hillsong United - Tear Down the Walls
Last modified: 18 Sep 2009

Hillsong United - Tear Down the Walls
Everyone seems to have a view, a comment, an opinion about Hillsong and Hillsong United, and a lot of the time it's not about their worship music. The worst part of it is, it's mostly negative. It happens in all walks of life once something gets big and enjoyed by many, people seem to want to knock it down a peg or two. It happens with mainstream bands, once they sell a few albums people then accuse the band, unfairly, of selling out. The stories I hate the most about Hillsong are the ones when someone starts their story with "I read on the internet..." or "someone told me that..." Let's be honest, we don't always know the full story and to be fair Hillsong probably do a lot more than we think out of the public eye in regards to mission and helping people.

But this review is going to be about a great new album from Hillsong United. I'm going to look at it as any other album, no matter how big the name of the band/worship team and just take the songs as they are. In the past I haven't been too nice to some Hillsong United albums as I simply didn't like them, but other albums I have loved.

Just in case you don't know much about Hillsong United, the youth setup at Hillsong Church, here is a quick history lesson. Hillsong United started when the worship team of the youth ministry began writing songs, they then released an EP the 1999 album "Everday". Since that time the Hillsong United worship team has released an album each year and has grown in popularity. Along with playing in Sydney, the team currently travels the world, touring and holding conferences with thousands of attendees. The Hillsong United band is led by Joel Houston, the son of Hillsong Church senior pastor Brian Houston. The current Head Youth Pastors of Hillsong United are Chrishan and Danielle Jayeratnam.

What does "[a_CROSS//the_EARTH] :: Tear Down the Walls" sound like as an album? The album is 12 tracks long and was recorded at "Encounterfest '08", but what I didn't know is this only part 1 of a 2 part album. I'm told the second part will be called "This Means Love" and released towards October/November time. Lets get back on track to their latest release in "[a_CROSS//the_EARTH] :: Tear Down the Walls".

The album name is very clever, that's the first positive, very creative but a little bit geeky if I may say so. The album starts off with "Freedom Is Here" which was written by Reuben Morgan and Scott Ligertwood, which is fantastic but from reading the album inlay I counted 9 different songwriter who have added their songs to the album, this could be a good thing for not sticking to one style of writing or could go the other way and you could lose the flow of the album, we will see.

"Freedom Is Here" builds up with a crowd clapping and a guitar riff as we have come to expect from Hillsong United. This song then kicks into its big anthem chorus, what we have come to expect from Hillsong, but what surprised me about this song was its heavy use of keyboard synths in the track. I was surprised as what was a very "Hillsong United" safe song sounded a bit more interesting with the added synths. But it's next track "No Reason To Hide" where I feel the album starts to really move up the gears. With its close to punk Green Day drums to start, you will be tapping your feet all the way through this song. The productions on this album are brilliant and they haven't turned down the crowd sound either, which some live albums do. You do get a sense of being at the live event, or at least, wish you were there.

I could go on for ages, explaining each track, detail by detail. But if you have purchased a Hillsong United album before you will know the feel and sound you get, and nothing much has changed to move away from that. This album does have it's quieter worship moments, "Arms Open Wide" which starts off with synths and vocals and then builds up into another big anthem. The album ends with heavy, fast tempo rock track "Yours Forever", which has very fast lyrics and vocals and is a fantastic track with its shout out loud chorus of "Yours Forever". I didn't want to say too much about this track but, yes this album has a good version of "Your Name High" or as some people in my church like to call it "The Woo hoo oohhh" song.

An amazing album, which you will wish you had the opportunity to be there to experience the songs live. I'm sure if you choose to purchase this album you will be be playing it in your car, loud, on the way down to the festivals this summer. After listening to "[a_CROSS//the_EARTH] :: Tear Down the Walls" a lot in the last week or so, I can't get the songs out of my head. I for one can't wait for when they release part 2 in the Autumn. Hillsong United have stepped up and given us a great Live Worship Album. Glory to God.

Review by Jono Davies

Rating 5 out of 5 Stars
Standout Tracks
Arms Open Wide
Soon
No Reason To Hide


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