Encountering the Kingdom | Posted May 22, 2012 Staff Reviewer
After making a name for themselves with 2009's worship project God of this City (best known for the hit song by the same name), Bluetree is back with another album of electronic-infused worship anthems on their third studio release, Kingdom.
Bluetree is led by Aaron Boyd and completed with other gifted musicians from Exchange Church in Northern Ireland. The success of God of this City has allowed them to take their tunes away from their island and across the globe.
This latest project deeply emphasizes the coming of the Kingdom of God and the freedom that comes through the cross of Christ, drawing on energetic, full-bodied percussion and electronic fills that frame and encourage a deep encounter with God. These themes are introduced with the first beats of the opening track "Glorious Victorious." The following track, "You Were You Are," introduces more of Bluetree's signature synthesized flavor, filling out the powerful anthem with strong corporate backing vocals. Throughout the album, layering the vocals in this way provides for a strong sense of the experience expanding beyond the structure of the songs themselves, inviting a much bigger community into the music.
Their ability to introduce enough synth to keep any electro-rock fan happy without it overwhelming the song is expressed beautifully in "It Is Finished," a track focusing on the victory that comes through Christ's cross. The album also evokes a sense of expectation in the hope of Christ's return with songs such as "Exalt Him." There are also moments when the bright synth melodies filling in the tracks are reminiscent of Celtic tunes, betraying the Irish background. This is particularly evident in "Destined to Reign."
The album, extremely energetic to this point, begins to change pace with "Jesus Healer." Although the steady strong influence of percussion is maintained, a more gentle tone is introduced. This theme is continued with the beautiful, restrained track "Shine," featuring gentle piano breaking into the throbbing percussion, a musical picture of the visual of Christ's light in dark as Boyd sings, "shine, shine, shine, in the darkest place."
Bluetree continues to show how they can employ musical restraint in the following selection, "You Are My Rock." Here the victorious theme present throughout the album is expanded into more of a theme of comfort: "what heights of love what depths of peace--You are my Rock."
"Rest" begins with the same themes of a strong God souls can cling to, steadily building the quiet introduction into a much more energetic climax. This sets the stage perfectly for the techno rock offering "Lightens Up," a song massive enough to fill an arena with its heavy synth edge, waves of guitars, and soaring vocals declaring God's light. "Under My Feet" wraps the album up with an even stronger techno vibe, drawing on distorted vocal and synth loops in a moment almost reminiscent of Daft Punk. This final moment of the album portrays the completion of the Kingdom: "the old is gone and the new is here for us. Saints rise and sing, rise up and sing, join the creation and every living thing."
Bluetree does a very solid job following up their successful God of this City, establishing themselves even more firmly in the worldwide community of worship artists. Their voice is developed beautifully by their victorious lyrics and the energetic techno charge surging throughout each track. Every song is strongly vertical, addressing a powerful and glorious God, inviting listeners to experience Him. This album vividly captures a freeing encounter with a conquering, healing Savior and a present and coming kingdom of God.