02nd Jul2013

Review :: Hillsong Live: Glorious Ruins

by Ryan

Hillsong Live - Glorious Ruinshead

Originally Posted at FaithVillage.com

Release Date: July 2, 2013

One of the perks of being a music journalist is that sometimes I’m given a record that I wouldn’t have picked up on my own that really surprises me. This is one of those cases.

Like everyone else, I’m aware of Hillsong—although I don’t know much about all the different iterations such as Live, United, etc. (However, if you haven’t listened to Hillsong Kiev, you’re missing out on something really interesting.) All that to say, I like what they do, but I’ve never really sought them out.

I’ve started lumping worship leaders/records into one of two camps: “Cheerleaders” and “Tour Guides.” Cheerleaders quickly and easily invite participation from their listeners. Their songs are built on simple chord structures; lyrics are memorable and straight-forward. Tour Guides are more apt to lead their audience on a journey that may be less participatory and more “let me show you and remind you of what God is doing.” Their songs may be a bit more moody or musically advanced. Neither one is better than the other (though cheerleader songs may be more transferrable to any given church environment), really they both serve a great purpose depending on where the audience is at spiritually and emotionally.

This is most definitely a cheerleader record, and I love it for that. Throughout the entire album there is a significant use of syth and keys which gives the whole collection a bit of an 80’s vibe in places—not that that is a bad thing in any way. Of course there are plenty of guitar-led songs.

The album opens with the foot on the gas pedal, driving drums, and crowd singing along on “Always Will.” And, while there are a few scaled-back songs, the sonic impact never really lets up. Nearly every song is stadium, anthem rock-ready for a crowd of 20,000+. What’s great is that each of them can easily be scaled back to a room of 20. (And if that is your crowd, may I suggest the Hillsong Chapel series.)

If there’s a misstep at all, it is on the title track which—to me—feels a little wordy. Other songs that start slow, eventually make the turn to memorable. Part of that could be the fact that there’s a crowd full of engaged folks singing along.

Three songs really stand out from the others. “Closer” is a great kickstart of a song. For a more mellow approach, check out “Where the Spirit of the Lord is.” It’s structure and instrumentation is reminiscent of early Delirious?.

“Christ is Enough” instantly catapulted into the upper echelon of worship songs for me (alongside Vicky Beeching’s “Deliverer” and Phil Wickham’s “You’re Beautiful”). Structurally, it reminds me of Passion’s rendition of “Jesus Paid It All.” Passion augmented a familiar hymn with a new, inspiring bridge, whereas Hillsong accents their original song with a re-invention of “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.”

The standard album contains 12 tracks. There is, however, a “Deluxe Version” with a total of 15 songs and a 30 minute message which I didn’t get to hear.  They have also released a companion DVD that mirrors the songs and sermon from the Deluxe Version.


Here is the incredibly well-produced trailer for the album/DVD.

Buy on Amazon

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