Hillsong United


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If Hillsong United didn't create the modern alternative rock style of worship music, they certainly were the group that helped take it to the top of the gospel charts, having released a string of live albums that were mostly live and loud and both sonically and secularly comparable to Coldplay and/or U2. Kicking off with an electro-tinged bit of rock called "Relentless," Zion is a risky expansion of their sound, incorporating many different flavors of pop music and offering elaborate, epic numbers like "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" that are so busy and big they seem to have stepped off Broadway and wound up here. Tempos are often faster than before but the swell of emotion is just as big, while Joel Houston and Matt Croker are still key members of the group, although newcomer Ben Tennikoff makes quite an impact, drawing attention to his keyboard work and co-writing the late-album highlight "Tapestry," which is a soft, swaying number that remains compelling for its six-plus minutes. Some of the tracks, on the other hand, are overly long, making the already big Zion just a touch overstuffed.

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