Joining the fraternity of church worship bands such as Worship Central, Gateway Worship, One Worship, Vertical Church Band and Hillsong United, Elevation Worship shares a similar vision with these teams. Running like an unspoken bloodline across church groups is the cover of many of their albums. Instead of showcasing the faces of one or a slew of their worship leaders, many of these albums don a simple design or a mere logo. Elevation Worship's latest release opts for the latter showing just one of those laurel wreaths the Roman Caesars used to wear with the appropriate titular underneath. And in line with many of these church groups, there is no singular worship leader who takes the lead on all the songs. Rather, the task is democratically designated to the entire team which comprises of Mack Brock, Chris Brown, London Gatch, Brad Hudson, Wade Joye, Andrea Smith and Jane Williams. Certainly such attempts of trying to "de-individualize" have its benefits: it rightly moves such projects from being celebrity -driven to being focused on God and Him alone.
However, such projects can have a double-edged effect. Many of these worship albums can so utilize the same anonymous templates that they don't sound distinct from each other. Other than knowing that they come from various churches, it is easy to mistake one band for another. So, does Elevation Worship's latest release "Only King Forever" avoid such a trapping? Yes and no. But before we place the disc under the microscope, it's important to say a word about Elevation Worship. They are the worship team from Elevation Church, which got its start in 2006 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Today the church has a weekly attendance of 12,000 and it is essentially one of US's fastest growing churches in America alone. However, unlike many of their peers, Elevation Church's senior pastor and author Steven Furtick does dip his pen into the record by assisting the team in their song writing.
Memorable moments abound on this their third release. And you don't need to get farther than the opener "Only King Forever." Excitement in worship gets a new exclamation mark as the team leads us in a Chris Tomlin-like burner as they sing: "You are the only King forever/Almighty God we lift You higher/You are the only King forever/Forevermore You are victorious." "Grace So Glorious," a track written by Chris Brown, Israel Houghton and Pastor Furtick, is Ephesians 1:5-8 set to music It is so glorious that you can't help but be lost in the midst of worship. And when the song gets a reprise, we find a snippet of Pastor Furtick ministering to us as he explains to us the impact of God's grace on our lives. Hillsong matriarch Darlene Zschech steals the spotlight away when she gets to sing lead on "The Love of Jesus." By the song's bridge, the way Zschech can stir the congregation deeper and deeper into worship is just a testament of how deft she is as a worship veteran.
"Raised to Life," co-written by Matt Redman, is bound to be an Easter Sunday favorite across churches in the years to come. While "Last Word" is a sober reminder to us that despite all the chattering voices that may discourage us from trusting Jesus, Jesus himself is the last word. However, with 14 songs and a running time of 79 minutes, some of the songs tend to run into anonymity. They are not bad; but having not been part of the congregation, it takes some effort to distinguish one from the other. Despite such a quibble, if you are into Worship Central or One Worship, there are lots of worship tunes to indulge especially the Darlene Zschech led "The Love of Jesus."