Endless Praise by Planetshakers: Impressive musicianship, average lyrics
Australian based Planetshakers is a youth movement often compared to Hillsong. There are many obvious similarities. Both are churches known primarily for their congregational worship music. Both their theology and their guitar fuelled praise music are comparable.
Endless Praise is Planetshakers' 15th live conference album in as many years. And while the team's sound has matured over the last decade and a half, most people know exactly what they're getting when they press play on a Planetshakers (or a Hillsong) album.
The final parallel I'll mention between the two movements is also the most striking. Hillsong recently released Young And Free to much critical acclaim. Second track Alive had a dance fuelled riff that carried the song. Flip back to the second track on Endless Praise – Turn It Up and the riff is almost exactly the same. But perhaps this is merely a coincidence?
Endless Praise contains a whopping 14 tracks and many of them feature some impressive musicianship. Its unlikely that this final CD is entirely representative of what listeners heard at the conference, but even accounting for a fair amount of studio-tweaking, few would criticise Planetshakers' musicians. To use words such as 'relentless' or 'passionate' to describe the music would be an understatement. Some of the drum fills and guitar riffs are furiously delivered.
Third track, Dance, is a good example of this. It's one of the most-catchy tunes and while the chorus lyric of "Everybody give it up for Jesus" might make some cringe (we're not exactly in Songs of Praise territory) the musical breakdown that follows it is phenomenal. It really has to be heard to be believed (2:20-3:00).
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But Planetshakers aren't just about high-energy, up-tempo and rock-orientated tracks. The first sign of this comes in the form of No Other Name. "The name of Jesus is victory / The name of Jesus has saved me" the team sing over a simple chord structure. "There's just something about the name of Jesus" they sing. Here the melody is easy to sing and the lyrics are better than elsewhere on the album where they too often suffer from being generic and typical of so many other songs in the modern worship movement.
The lack of biblical content and over-emphasis on the individual (rather than God) brings down an otherwise energetic and positive record. Having said this, there are notable highlights including Our God Reigns, and the aforementioned No Other Name and Dance. It's not a weak album, just a typical one.
In all it's a mixed bag. But the chances are if you already own a few Planetshakers albums you'll enjoy this too. Newcomers to the band are sure to be impressed by the musicianship and energy on offer. But when compared to the wealth of similar material on offer, it's the high intensity music on Endless Praise that stands out, as opposed to the lyrics.