The Phantom Tollbooth

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R&B stands out among EDM influences

Heaven on Earth
Artist: Planetshakers
Publisher: Venture3Media (V3M)
Length: 1 hour 24 minutes

Can a music style like EDM be used in praise and worship? Heaven on Earth by Planetshakers answers a resounding yes and shows how effective it can be.

EDM (Electronic Dance Music) is employed in varying degrees on several tracks. This may be challenging to those who are more inclined to the pop/rock style of modern worship. Nevertheless, the performance is excellent and provides contrast with the other styles. I still marvel that years ago these sounds didn’t even exist. Improvements in technology have not only made them possible but make them fascinating.

What makes this release worthwhile for me, however, is “Electric Atmosphere,” a live recording of a different sort. This is an outstanding example of making joyful sounds. It’s R&B worship at its best. The bass pops. The guitars are so tightly clipped that it’s almost like you could use them to cut hair or maybe a lawn.

The atmosphere is charged with the sound of the crowd periodically repeating “hey” and “ho” as if they are batting the words back and forth with every outburst. What a hoot!

A similar winning combination surfaces on “The Greatest,” another live cut, with the audience proclaiming, “You are the greatest!” I truly enjoy this R&B vibe.

“Move out of My Way” comes in two versions. What surprises me is how well they do the heavy metal version, a studio track. The first version is a combination of several genres done live. I find a little humor in the get out of my way so that I can lift up praise thought. The songwriter is declaring an intention in the strongest possible terms. The call and response is delightfully sassy.

For those who might prefer worship anthems that start quiet and ebb and flow between peaks and valleys, there are four live tracks that are each about eight minutes or longer. I like the change from the EDM sound, but they tend to be a little too familiar and repetitious.

This release is actually the culmination of a trilogy. It includes songs previously released in parts one and two, plus five additional songs released from part three. Part three was released the same day as this one.

Ten of the songs are also captured on video, which is part of the CD/DVD package. Nine of the fifteen songs on the digital release are live.

The radio single of the title track closes the digital release and is absent from the physical CD. The album version is the third song.

Planetshakers is a global movement based in Australia led by pastors Russell and Sam Evans. They launched Planetshakers church in 2004, which now has over 14,000 members in Australia making it one of the nation’s fastest growing churches. Currently, there are four global campuses including one in Austin, TX.

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