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61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of Hillsong United's "Zion" Album
Prime Cuts: Ocean, A Million Suns, Scandal of Grace

To love Hillsong United is to know them. But it is hard to know this Australian band when they have been suffering from an identity crisis for years. Often Hillsong United has been egregiously overlooked as the youthful counterpart of the adult-oriented Hillsong Live. And such an oversight is...
Published 18 months ago by Timothy Yap

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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected
I am normally a huge fan of Hillsong. But, this album has gone way off of the beaten path. To much techno. It sounds like a rave album. Definitely did not enjoy it. If you are looking to stay true to form, don't get this album.
Published 17 months ago by David A. Albright


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61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of Hillsong United's "Zion" Album, February 26, 2013
This review is from: Zion [Deluxe Edition] (Audio CD)
Prime Cuts: Ocean, A Million Suns, Scandal of Grace

To love Hillsong United is to know them. But it is hard to know this Australian band when they have been suffering from an identity crisis for years. Often Hillsong United has been egregiously overlooked as the youthful counterpart of the adult-oriented Hillsong Live. And such an oversight is understandable because Hillsong United really did start out off as a dependent youth ministry of the Australian mega church. Way back in 1998 Worship Pastor Darlene Zschech suggested to Reuben Morgan and Marty Sampson that the youth ministries of the church should record their own CDs resulting in their debut live album "Everyday." Over the years, United Live (later changed to Hillsong United) has always been caricatured as the rowdier version of Hillsong Live. However, after 11 full length albums (including two studio collections), "Zion" is a tour-de-force ready to stake its claim that Hillsong United has a face and it is not just a mere stepchild of the church. While Hillsong Live has a high quotient of charged-up energy sing-a-long anthems, the songs on "Zion" are less melodious and less commercially accessible. But the trump card here is that these tracks are intricately artful - they are like little movies slowly building themselves with the piling of layers and layers of sounds enhanced by the understated shimmering of emotions. Unlike their previous albums where they would recycle songs that have already appeared on their Hillsong Live main albums, all the tracks here are new. Also, they have conspicuously reduced the number of lead worshippers and writers to create a tighter identity across the album. Gone are previous United leaders such as Marty Sampson, Annie Garrett, Brooke Fraser, Hayley Law, Jill McCloghry and Sam Knock. Rather, leads this time are handled mainly by Matt Crocker, Joel Houston, Jad Gillies, Jonathon Douglass, Dave Ware and newcomer Taya Smith.

With this release, though there may be many departures for Hillsong United, there is one thing that remains constant across their albums: God. The major reason why this record is so good is because God comes across these 13 tracks (18 for the deluxe version) as so irresistibly good that it makes you want to dance, sing and praise. Of everything that excels with the album opener "Relentless"-the crisp drumming, the breathy passion of Matt Crocker's vocals, and the electronically induced drums-the highlight is still God. The way Crocker describes how God "carries us, covers us... with your endless grace" is so contagious that you can help but want to dance along. And God doesn't get any better than when His Son was on the Cross. Again led by Crocker "Scandal of Grace" is one of the best expositions of the Cross of Jesus Christ set to music. New worship leader Taya Smith, who has a soprano not that dissimilar to Jill McCloghry, takes the lead on "Ocean." "Ocean" is not your typical Hillsong ballad-rather, starting off slow like the gentle waves clapping on the floor of the beach before building with a cinematic anticipation to a tsunami explosion of God's greatness, this almost 9-minute drama is a mini-movie set to music that is just breathtaking.

Often the music of Hillsong has often been maligned for its lack of lyrically depth. But "A Million Suns" is out to .prove those critics wrong. Scott Ligertwood (who wrote the brilliant "I Desire Jesus" from "Cornerstone") teams with Dean Ussher to write about the glory of God outshining like "A Million Suns." The word across the rumor mill is that "A Million Suns" will also (deservingly) appear on Hillsong Live's 2013's album. Jad Gillies, who arguably has the biggest and strongest voice, gives a slow rousing take of the Coldplay-esque ballad "Love is War." Again this is not your cognitively inept worship number, but this is a brilliant piece that sets our struggle to fight to trust God against the backdrop of God's grace. "Tapestry" calls to mind "Awakening" from their previous studio album, it is a slow burner exalting God's intricately woven plans for our lives.

Though this is a brilliantly orchestrated record with God-honoring themes, it's honestly difficult to listen right through the record. Some of the songs are so long and nebulous that it's a far cry from the catchy worship favorites such as "Hosanna" or "Bones" or "Break Free." Also, if these songs are to be used for church worship, many smaller churches without the benefits of multiple synths may have problems replicating the ambiance created in many of the songs. With "Zion," Hillsong United have come a long way. They have really carved a niche for themselves with their gorgeously produced disc but sometimes roots are important too. If they could throw in a few Brooke Fraser or Reuben Morgan or even Darlene Zschech compositions and tighten the reins on the melodic loops of some of the songs, things would be even better.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great album dedicated to our awesome God, February 26, 2013
This review is from: Zion (Deluxe Edition) (MP3 Music)
I love every song in Zion, it has what people would call a more "modern" touch with electronic instruments and effects. Depending on your taste of music, you might either like the new generation sound or you might prefer the more simple, but yet incredibly beautiful songs from their previous albums. The only thing I would say Zion is missing, is a slow song where we are able to relax with the Lord in worship and praise. Again you will love it if you are into electronic effects and instruments. Me wanting a slower song in the album is more of a want instead of a need. Glorifying God in praise and worship is the most important thing, and Zion delivers on that.

lyrics: the lyrics are just stunning, absolutely beautiful and reminds us how amazing our God is.

sounds/melodies/instrumentals: like I said, it's has a more modern feel to it with the electronic instruments/effects. It sounds beautiful, although some may prefer the sound of their previous albums.

conclusion: A must have for me, and I highly recommend it. God Bless
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars United in Grace, February 27, 2013
This review is from: Zion (Audio CD)
I have a funny habit of listening to the beginning of each song when I get a new CD because I don't have the patience to listen to it all the way through the first time. I want an overview of the whole thing! I adore Hillsong United and their music has impacted the world so it's no surprise that their new CD Zion is amazing! Every time I hit my next button, each song was better than the one before.

Upon first impression, my favorites were Scandal of Grace, Stay and Wait and Tapestry.

The CD begins with the upbeat Relentless which pretty much sets the tone for the remainder of the CD. It's lyrics are powerful, music worshipful and inspirational. It almost has a techno sound that sounds kind of cool. The rest of the CD has a bit more mellow feel than it's opener but I actually prefer that.

Do you ever wonder how writers of music keep coming up with new original songs? It sounds silly but it seems like the words and music would just eventually run out. I'm always amazed when I hear a truly original song that someone successfully put together something no one has ever thought of before. The title of Scandal of Grace immediately grabbed me and the lyrics matched the title. This song touched and impacted my heart the most. It's message is beautiful and the music is almost haunting.

Each song is unique with a sound all it's own and a powerful message. I like that there are different singers so sometimes you get a man and other times a woman. The variety keeps it fresh but as a whole it's all the same: a profound worship experience that you will replay over and over again. Hillsong: Zion is all you'd expect it to be and more.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like fine wine..., May 14, 2013
By 
Emeka (Kilgore, TX USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Zion [Deluxe Edition] (Audio CD)
The more you listen to it, the more you feel the NEED to keep listening to it. I'm a guitar-praise/worship guy so they synth feel on this album took a little getting used to but I'm sold. I love the entire album but "Scandal of Grace", "Nothing like Your love", "Mountain" (Bonus track), "Relentless" and "Oceans" definitely stand out in my humble opinion. I love the direction United is headed in, being bold, creative & free to express yourself in worship in "unconventional" ways is definitely something I believe will continue to set these guys apart for years to come.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zion Is Incredible!, February 27, 2013
This review is from: Zion (MP3 Music)
Zion is an absolutely incredible anthem of who our God is, every song is so different and amazing! Love it Hillsong!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can I put 6 stars?, March 19, 2013
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This review is from: Zion [Deluxe Edition] (Audio CD)
I can't believe how awesome this album is (especially for a Christian album). It's so uplifting and upbeat. This is more comparable to Coldplay than other Christian artists in my opinion. Very well produced and though the lyrics are simplistic, the sound is majestic. Nothing Like Your Love is perhaps my favorite.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Praise CD, March 14, 2013
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This review is from: Zion (Deluxe Edition) (MP3 Music)
As a worship Leader, I am always looking for great music, this track has some of the most in-depth songs around. For 2013 the songs are a little limited, and many songs are melding into the same 3 chord, bubble gun melodies. These songs are well thought out and are comprised of many factors that come together forming a well founded, grounded, powerful music set that will lift your eyes to the reason.Jesus!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best worship music CDs, February 26, 2013
By 
Linh "Linh" (Murphysboro, IL 62966) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Zion [Deluxe Edition] (Audio CD)
This is one of the best worship music product I've listened to. Hillsong United really invested a lot in the quality of this album in both music and lyrics. The songs show deep love and strong desire for God. It has shown it all through the lyrics. I can still feel Aftermath in this album which makes me think this is Aftermath 2. Hillsong has a very special style so that you just need to play a song for a couple of seconds, you can realize it's theirs! And if you love Aftermath then you'll definitely love this album. My favorite songs so far are Zion, Scandal of Grace, Stay and Wait, Mercy Mercy, and Rentless. I haven't had time to listen to the whole album carefully but overall this album is great.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic! Beyond Beautiful!, July 26, 2013
This review is from: Zion [Deluxe Edition] (Audio CD)
This is what praising Jesus should sound like! Hillsong United has done it again! Every song is a worshipful prayer. Oceans, sung by Taya Smith is amazing!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strongest Hillsong United Album Yet, February 26, 2013
By 
Drew (Pennsylvania, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Zion (MP3 Music)
I've been a fan of Hillsong United for 12 years, basically since they started releasing albums in the U.S. Most of their albums have been strong, but also lacked range. Hillsong United music was often triumphalistic and upbeat, with a small range of musical style.

With "Zion", Hillsong United journeyed beyond their comfortable, successful barriers to explore a sonic range and emotional space that I've not heard them travel before. The result is a mix of U2, The Police, Depeche Mode and a sound uniquely Hillsong. The album is both excellent sonically and lyrically, emphasizing the grace of Christ. The highlight of the album for me is "Scandal of Grace," a powerful cry out to Jesus for his undeserved love towards his followers.
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Zion [Deluxe Edition]
Zion [Deluxe Edition] by Hillsong (Audio CD - 2013)
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