Hillsong - Open Heaven/River Wild (Deluxe CD + DVD)

Published Tuesday 28th March 2017
Hillsong - Open Heaven/River Wild (Deluxe CD + DVD)
Hillsong  - Open Heaven/River Wild (Deluxe CD + DVD)

RATING 7 7 7 7 7 7 7
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 159288-23520
LABEL: Hillsong Music HMACD310

Reviewed by Lins Honeyman

As you would expect, this live worship release from the Australian branch of the global mega-church Hillsong is a slick affair. Containing corresponding CD and DVD accounts of Hillsong's annual worship conference at the impressively vast Allphones Arena in Sydney, a selection of worship leaders including Marty Sampson, Joel Houston and the rather wonderful Taya "Oceans" Smith take to the stage to offer up praises to God in front of a packed throng. Hillsong have really pulled out the stops to make their product look as good as possible from the exclusively good-looking worship leaders to the equally good-looking audience members that the camera chooses to pick out whilst the stage design - complete with catwalk and a backdrop that morphs to and from filmic scenes, circular big screens and big budget light shows - looks like something U2 would be more than happy with. Musically though, this is hardly groundbreaking stuff and lacks an absolute killer song which a reviewer can confidently predict will circle the globe. (However, such is the now vast popularity and huge sales of Hillsong that a good-but-nothing-special song might do that anyway.) As with much of the modern worship fare that's out there today where pounding drums, epic synth washes and one note guitar lines lead the way in a Coldplay-style parade of mid-tempo songs, for the most part, the songs lack melodic or lyrical depth and the individuality to make them stand out. Choosing to deliver each undoubtedly God-focussed and skilfully played song in more or less the same fashion despite having a veritable football team of singers - the majority of whom sing with eyes closed and whose only interaction with the crowd is a terse "come on" - feels like a missed opportunity and makes for a somewhat dull affair despite this release's glossy veneer. Nonetheless, if you're a fan of Hillsong, you will still get your money's worth - helped by the DVD-only inclusion of four bonus tracks showcasing the United and Young & Free branches of Hillsong Worship.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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