Founded in 2000, the Gateway Church has experienced an extraordinary growth in attendance, becoming one of America's most quickly expanding congregations. Their worship team- simply called Gateway Worship- released their first project in 2006 along with a DVD of that particular live set, called Living For You. Now at the start of '08, Gateway Worship hopes to make an impact on the increasingly cluttered praise and worship scene with their sophomore effort, the ambitiously dubbed Wake Up The World.
Opening with "New Doxology," the worship team betrays their primary influence right out of the chute: Hillsong Live. What follows is in much of the same vein of contemporary pop worship, leaving a sense of déjà vu when it finally comes to a close. That's not to say some of it isn't pretty, but there's not much to think about below the surface. In a live setting, I'm sure it would be fantastic. But on an iPod or stereo, it grows tedious very quickly.
The album's downfall is its simplicity-- a reliance on building chord progressions and U2-inspired guitar delays that reveals its lack of creativity. After all, how many other bands have used similar production techniques in an attempt to bring about a sense of "epic" worship? It's not necessarily a bad formula; it's just that this release has showed up too late in the game to come across all that inspired.
Still, though, the truths conveyed in its lyricism aren't exactly unwelcome. Lines such as "Lord of my laughter/sovereign in sorrow/prince of my praise" ("God of My Days") certainly have weight; the only problem comes when they're repeated ad nauseum with little variation, female back-up vocals following up to drive the point home, just in case you didn't hear it the first twenty times.
I don't want to sound harsh. It's obvious those at the Gateway Church hold worship in high esteem, but they could definitely use a little downtime to figure out their own unique approach. Otherwise, the spiritual truths they seem set so intently on expounding will only wash over their audience in a vague feeling of "been there, done that." And if that happens, they'll be hard pressed to wake up the neighborhood, let alone the world.- Review date: 3/5/08, written by John Wofford of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Integrity Music
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