Reviewed by Justus Swart
Over the past 20 years Hillsong has continued to raise the bar for live recorded worship albums, and 2015’s Open Heaven / River Wild is no exception. The powerful instrumentation rings out across the auditorium connecting with the 25000 voices, creating a highly charged atmosphere of worship and praise. The distance between those on stage and those in the congregation is dissolved as the songs build beautifully on the unity of vocals and instruments. The album’s strongest moments come as the stage pulls back allowing the songs to be carried by the many voices in attendance. With a number of notable tracks this album is ranked among my favourites from the Hillsong collection.
What’s the feel of this album?
Hillsong Worship’s previous album unearthed a new level of worship with the hugely popular track Oceans. Sticking to the same emotive and energetic musical style, Open Heaven / River Wild manages to build on the foundation laid by their previous album with many slow build-ups which lead to huge, anthem-like choruses with beautiful and sincere lyrics that drive the songs from start to finish. Gentle and lush guitar sounds combined with pounding percussion and layers of synthesiser surround the vocals, taking things to the next level in this stunningly compiled album.
Harnessing the full potential of all lead vocalists, each track on this album takes on a unique sound which creates a wide variety for the listener to enjoy. Ranging from powerful anthems like Praise the Name and Heart like Heaven, all the way to the soft spoken vocals of Laura Toggs on Never Forsaken, River Wild is a treat for anyone with a good ear for music. With such depth and range, I highly recommend that you purchase this album before the upcoming 2016 album Let There Be Light.
If you’d like to buy the album, click here to purchase it via iTunes.