Lately there have been some great new worship albums that have been in regular rotation for me. One is the recent release from Aaron Gillespie and reigning worship champions Hillsong United, Aftermath, which was released in mid-February.
Whether you like Hillsong United or not, they have become a force to be reckoned with in the worship genre. This band is made up of some great young people who spread the message of Christ through their songs. The band has done worldwide tours in the last several years and is working to get the message of Christ to all nations.That’s what the Great Commission is all about, and it’s great to see a band doing what they are called to do by God.
This is one of the first Christian bands I discovered after being saved, so I personally love Hillsong United’s music. It is true that their sound has sounded very similar album to album, but the heart of their music brings me joy. Aftermath is not the most inventive or creative music of the year, but these talented musicians will never release anything less than solid. With solid vocals from Joel Houston, Jonathan Douglass, Jad Gilles, Matt Crocker, Jill McCloghry and David Ware, along with their talent musically, there is always something great to get into. There is no denying these men and women can turn your focus on Christ and can lead you through a great time of worship.
For Aftermath Hillsong United did a total revamp of their sound in comparison to their past albums. These songs have a completely different soundfrom the typical upbeat and in-your-face United anthems. This album shows the band broadening their horizons and stretching themselves musically. There are some rather complex music parts and well-layered tracks combined with deep and moving ballads. But Don’t worry, United doesn’t completely sacrifice that upbeat and catchy trademark of theirs; they just tone it down a bit.
This is the second studio release of United’s as opposed to their usual live offerings. It’s personal preference whether you like the rawer atmosphere of a live recording or a more refined approach on the studio release. In this case the production sounds great and the band leads you in a great personal time of worship.
It is a little odd starting the album off with a more laid-back track instead of the usual upbeat offering by United, but Take Heart” is great neareight-minute opening. The next track “Go ” is probably the most typical United track bringing a lot of energy and talking about complete surrender to Christ and doing all He wishes you to do. Jill McCloghry leads two beautiful tracks on this album “Like An Avalanche” and “Bones.” She has a great voice that drives on these tracks along with some great messages of Christ’s great love falling all over us like an avalanche and God breathing life into our dry bones so that we can set out and do the work He has for us. These songs tie in with the overall theme of the album which is “What will we do in the aftermath of what Christ has done on the cross?
“Rhythms of Grace” continues the theme of getting caught up in Christ’s love and living out our lives each day for Him. “Aftermath” is one of the strongest tracks on this album an intimate track that acknowledges all that Christ did for us on the Cross. This song also has some incredibly powerful lyrics:
And in that moment of glorious surrender / Was the moment You broke the chains in me
Lifted out of the ashes / I am found in the aftermath
“Father ” lead by Joel Houston is another highlight and carries the theme of Christ’s deep love for us and that our response should be to follow God wherever He leads.
“Nova” and “Light Will Shine” are two of the album’s more upbeat tracks and are a treat both musically and lyrically. These tracks have some booming energy and a lot of passion flows from them because of this. “Light Will Shine” is extremely catchy and has some great instrumentation spurring on the message that Christ’s light will shine wherever it goes including the darkness; it is definitely a highlight on this album.
“Search My Heart ” while a great honest cry to God I found to be a little repetitive in tempo so I didn’t find it to be the strongest track on the album but it does its job. “Awakening” is a powerful song to end the album off with having previously been recorded by Chris Tomlin on his latest project And If Our God Is For Us. This track is driven by a nice electric guitar riff and steadily rises throughout. It’s a powerful anthem and a nice track to wrap up this solid album.
For those who like United’s older sound this may take a little getting used to. For those who haven’t really dug their sound before this may be a good spot to pick back up. The band does a great job of keeping their great message intact yet changing up their sound to keep things fresh. The band’s heart is clearly seen through the messages delivered on this album. They deliver a great message and it is excellent music to worship our God with.
What is our response in the aftermath of what Christ has done for us? What is it for me? What is it for you? This album certainly leaves us with a lot to chew on. I like the direction the band took in taking the time to look at where we fit in the work of Christ. This has to be one of Hillsong United’s most mature projects to date both lyrically and musically. I look forward to them continuing this creative direction and what further impact they will have for Christ on the millions of fans they have around the world.