Forever Reign (Live), the second installment of the Hillsong Chapel series, offers a fresh take on the Hillsong sound. The sonic quality of the album is distinctly Hillsong, with its epic builds and classic hooks, but without the wall of electric guitars, big backbeats, or even the now infamous dotted-eighth delay. In their place are almost all acoustic instruments that range from guitars to mandolin, cello, and even a reed organ. The track list is a compilation of songs from past Hillsong albums, with the exception of a rendition of the classic hymn “It Is Well With My Soul.” The sparse instrumentation highlights the song lyrics and melody, and the voices of the congregation are mixed almost as loud as the lead vocal. The combination of deadened toms, snares, and tambourine give the percussion a loop-like feel that furnishes the album with a cohesive, unique style. The overall mood makes songs like “Cornerstone” and “Beautiful Exchange” more introspective than their full band versions while still conveying the declarative power of the lyrics. “Hallelujah” (track 2 of 12) is a two-minute worship chorus that sets the mood for the entire record. Starting with single strums of acoustic guitar, it builds organically but never reaches epic proportions, focusing on a simple lyrical prayer “Hallelujah, our God reigns” repeated over and over. Overall, the tracks on Forever Reign (Live) work incredibly well live and are a great resource for smaller congregations. The arrangements and mood have the uncanny ability to make the listener feel involved in the worship service, which is sometimes much more valuable than a catchy guitar hook.
More: Great arrangements and stripped down sound focus the listener on the power of the lyric.
Less: The majority of the songs have extremely similar form, making the songs sometimes difficult to distinguish from each other.