WORSHIP EXTREME VOL. 1 (2003)
I'll be honest: I have a problem with compilation albums. Not just one or two, but every single one I've ever heard. My problem stems from what I consider to be a basic idea: an album is a production with a unifying concept. By this logic, the songs should be somewhat related to each other and have a natural progression from start to finish. The very best albums never seem to have a song out of order; everything just fits. My problem, then, is that the act of compilation creates a chaotic jumble of mismatched music.
Worship Extreme, the latest installment of collaborative worship albums from Devotion Music, adds another level to my frustration. Mixing not only different songs and styles, it also represents the marriage of such disparate genres as Power Pop, Heavy Metal, and Hip-hop. I'm all for variation in musical tastes, but is it really necessary to bridge such wide chasms to fit under the "extreme" umbrella? I have to believe that a pretty decent effort could be produced using all Heavy Metal. There seems to be a plethora of Christian punk artists these days, so why not utilize that resource? Just don't mix `em. Is that so much to ask?
Now that I've gotten that off my chest, let me just say that even if it doesn't fit together, this compilation still has some very good music. Some of the very best artists in Christian music today made contributions to this project. East West, Justifide, and Pillar bring the heavy artillery. Anthem, NeverLost, and Forthright carry the "pop"-guns. If you prefer your worship experience to be punk-flavored, you'll be pleased to find songs from artists like SoulStar, Headstrong, and Hemmingway. Sprinkled in and amongst these are, among others, an aggressive dance mix from Foldzan (think The Prodigy, if you're familiar with them, but with clean language) and a rap song from Cal Logic. Confused yet?
Lyrically this album is very good. There are two remakes of classic worship songs: "Open the Eyes of My Heart" (by Daniel's Window) and "God of Wonders" (by NeverLost). All in all, it is very much what you would expect from an album with "Worship" in the title, with at least one exception. Cal Logic's "Thankful for the Mic Chord" comes from way out in left field. His chorus conveys that he is thankful for being given a means of spreading God's message, but the body of his rhyme is so shrouded in symbolism, odd imagery, and personal references that it is very difficult to get a coherent message. I must also use the standard criticism that on the heavier songs it is very difficult to understand the lyrics, diminishing their effectiveness. In the remix of "Open the Eyes of My Heart" there is an odd rap tacked on following the song's original lyrics that takes something away and should have been left off. Even with the (excessively) wide range of musical genres collected and represented on this album, there are still some songs that don't belong for reasons that have nothing to do with their quality. "The Moment" by Forthright and "Grace Amazing" by Deva are very much mainstream with respect to contemporary Christian music. Hence, they have no business appearing on an album dedicated to celebrating "Extreme" anything.
There is something to be found for everyone on this album. And although you will be entertained, you will also be inspired by the messages these artists deliver, with the Cal Logic exception noted. You might not find yourself listening to this every day, but it is a refreshing change of pace. Should you buy this CD, you would not be disappointed. Unless, like me, you have a little problem...
A rather droll label site with clips from this disc and a couple other worship compilation series.
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