Review: Ghosts Upon The Earth by Gungor (Giveaway)


Thanks to Mat Reames and Russ Hutto for providing their thoughts and insights on this new project from Gungor. Giveaway at the bottom of this post.

Thoughts from Mat Reames

I could simply say you need to buy Ghosts Upon The Earth because its Gungor, and that should be enough. After their last album, Beautiful Things, Gungor went from a worship artist, to a worship juggernaut. Once again they smash it out of the park, showing the world that you don’t need dotted eighth delay to worship God. When most worship is becoming stale and repetitive, Gungor stays fresh.

Ghosts Upon The Earth is not a congregation friendly worship album. That is why I love it. I don’t see many of these songs climbing the CCLI charts. This album is not worship meant for you. This album is Gungor, as a band, as people, crying out to God, and walking a journey with God and Man.

I was in love with this album before the first track Let There Be was even finished playing. It was a beautiful artist rendition of Creation. It showed God singing creation into existence, and brought out the power of every word that comes from his mouth. The song builds to its crescendo, but rather than coming back down, it just ends. This sets you up for the rest of the album by saying that Creation was only the beginning of the journey.

Another thing to love about this album is the instrumentation, and musical diversity. Gungor is the type of band that doesn’t hold to a style. They simply pour out the pieces of their heart and it becomes a song. Some songs hold more of a bluegrass or folk feel, while others go Ambient or even more rock sounding. It is this diversity that made Gungor popular with their last album Beautiful Things and they continue to build on that trend here.

Two more songs that stand out (as if there are any songs that do not stand out) would be Brother Moon, as well as Crags and Clay. These two show the majestic glory of God through his creation, and show Gungor engaging in worship alongside the heavens in a similar fashion to David’s words in Psalm 104.

While Wake Up Sleeper is a song that truly energizes, draws, and encourages you, by walking you through the beatitudes and the side of Jesus that “Brought Good news to the Poor, and Liberty to the captive.” However, just as they do this, they turn the direction right after with Ezekiel, a song written from Ezekiel 16. From God to a rebellious, and obstinate bride. Everything that Gungor does is purposed and powerful, and the order of the songs takes you through the ebb and flow of human emotion.

There is a journey in worship; a path that takes you from brokenness to healing, and right into the presence of God. Most albums take that path the same way, and end up having a similar feel and sound. Gungor doesn’t like the path, because it is someone else’s path. They lead you through the woods blazing a new trail, finding a different way than others, but they bring a freshness that comes with Pioneers. If you aren’t a Gungor fan yet, then get off the highway and walk in the woods with Gungor for a while, you will become a fan.

I know this isn’t a normal album review, and to be honest that is because this is not a normal album. You need to get your hands on this, lock the door, unplug the phone and internet, and just immerse yourself in this album. Reexamine how we do worship, because that is exactly what Gungor does with this album.

Thoughts from Russ Hutto

From the first few seconds of the first song Let There Be I knew this was going to be an amazing journey through words and sound. Gungor’s newest project Ghosts Upon The Earth continues the eclectic and expertly composed musical tapestry that Gungor and his cohorts weaved on Beautiful Things.

Brother Moon has such a fresh, young and innocent vibe, that just shouts Gungor. There’s no doubt when you hear the arrangement and the instrumentation that Michael is the creative force behind this song. The complex time signatures and pulsing rhythms really drive this song to it’s climax. Like most Gungor songs the question isn’t whether it’s corporately singable or not, because most of them aren’t “out of the box” sing-along ready, but with some creative arranging ALL of Gungor’s music could be adapted for worship, whether to create special moments during a themed service or used as an opening song or even used in the middle of a worship set.

One of my thoughts with Gungor’s music is that it is so moving and challenging on a personal level. Your entire team needs to be listening to Gungor. It will stretch them, challenge them, and maybe even change them. If you could get all of your team members to listen to this great music, even if you never sing a song in a corporate setting, your corporate worship will be better just from that personal listening/meditation. It’s that creative and that strong.

That being said, Crags & Clay could be adapted to suit just about any worship setting. The words are great. Sweet and simple.

The Fall implements that trademark stringed instrument sound that Gungor utilized on some of the songs on Beautiful Things with it’s classical guitar and banjo sounds. This “reads” (sings) like a good psalm. The lyrics are gritty and real, full of passion and even angst. It’s beautiful.

One of my favorite parts of Beautiful Things was Michael’s use of classical guitars. When Death Dies showcases that same sound. Utilizing a string ensemble, this song really has an amazing fusion of modern sound but still allows the strings to soar, creating this mashup of old and new, ancient and modern. Personally, I’d love to feature this one in a corporate worship setting. It would take some creative arranging, but I think it can be done. Check out this live, acoustic version of this song that also features the “Beatboxing Cellist.”

Church Bells has an old world feel to it. I felt as though as I was whisked away to an ancient carnival in Europe, maybe Italy. It’s creative. Not many people can pull off this sound well. It’s a great song. Honestly, I’m thinking this would work VERY well in a setting where the worshipers are older. The message is pretty straight forward and challenging. But the musical style makes it easier to swallow. It draws you in.

Wake Up Sleeper brings in a funky, guitar, blue-grass-esque groove. It has some odd chordal sounds, but they work. Again, this is kind of trademark for Gungor so it’s not new territory as much as it is just pushing the envelope a bit further. This song features Michael’s wife Lisa, who makes up half of the vocal duo, rocks the vocals on this one. This song brings a little bit of a “wake up” call for the church.

Ezekiel carries on the theme of the previous song. A challenge to the church to “come back” – a great challenging song and a wonderful passage to dig into.

Vous Etes Mon Coure is a love song. The phrase is french, and means you are my heart. It is reminiscent of You Have Me from Beautiful Things.

This Is Not The End has a big anthemic, praise/encouragement feel to it. Lot of vocal “ohs” in this one – definitely catchy. I believe it would be a great song to arrange for corporate singing. The message is one of hope and encouragement. It’s not super wordy, but it carries the “emotion” of being care-free and rejoicing in God’s provision for us.

You Are The Beauty has a definite blue-grass drive to it. Very catchy. The lyrics are very “romantic” – some people who aren’t comfortable with “love song” imagery might be a little turned off by this, but I absolutely dig it. I love it that God is head over heels for His Church. There is some amazing guitar work on this song.

Ghosts Upon The Earth closes with Every Breath. It’s a nice guitar-driven song in compound meter that showcases some vivid lyrical imagery. It’s a song of devotion and response and could easily be adapted for corporate singing.

Overall, I’m loving this album. It didn’t blow me away like the first time I EXPERIENCED Beautiful Things live, but knowing how amazing and how creative Gungor is I expected no less than what is on this album. I give it two thumbs up (personally) and as a worship leader I am inspired by each and every song in their own unique ways.

Inspired to meditate. Inspired to think. Inspired to search. Inspired to create. Inspired to worship.

Gungor has a knack for making musical moves within songs that seem to come out of nowhere, but they work, they absolutely work. Though this doesn’t have the shock and awe of Beautiful Things (because we just weren’t prepared for that one), it definitely reflects all of the wonderful creativity and talent that God has blessed Michael Gungor and his band with. It is inspirational. It is moving. It is beautiful.

Whether you use a single song or not in a corporate worship setting, EVERY worship leader, vocalist, musician, and team member should have this one in their playlists. Be inspired.

Gungor: | facebook | iTunes

Giveaway: We will be giving away TWO (2) copies of Gungor’s Ghosts Upon The Earth. All you have to do to enter our random drawing is answer the question below in the comments:

Question: What is the most creative worship setting you’ve ever been a part of?

Maybe you used unorthodox instrumentation. Maybe you had a worship service on the top of a mountain. I’d love to see a tapestry of answers. Maybe even some inspiration for each other as we scan through the answers!

To be eligible to win:

  • Answer question in comments (only one response will be counted, but feel free to respond to others’ comments).
  • Deadline to enter is this Friday, September 23 at 12 midnight (Eastern).
  • We will notify the winners by email.