Zion, the latest and third album from contemporary Christian and alternative rock band Hillsong United, is also now the group's most commercially successful album after striking gold with a mainstream audience and debuting at the number five spot on Billboard's 200 chart on Friday. It is also number one on Billboard's Christian Album chart.
The only albums currently ranking higher than Zion on the mainstream music chart are Bruno Mars' Unorthodox Jukebox, Amok by Atoms for Peace, Babel by Mumford and Sons and The Heist by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
In a message on Friday to fans on Twitter, the group wrote: "Thank you all for your support getting Zion into the top 5 on the USA top 200 Billboard charts//We appreciate you all."
Zion, was released internationally on Feb. 26 and sold 34,100 copies in the U.S. last week, according to a news.com.au report. It outsold albums from popular artists like Rihanna, Adele and Taylor Swift.
In an interview with CCM Magazine, band member Joel Houston said the band chose the name Zion for the album because it represented the story of God in a simple and unequivocal way. "From the outset, I felt like this was going to be a project that spoke simply and decisively of the story of God...of the sense of purpose and mission that comes from realizing where we fit in the picture," Houston told CCM. "I'm convinced that we are not only redeemed, but we are redeemed and called into the story of God with a specific plan and purpose. This is why we undertook this project in the first place; not just to add another worship title to the catalogue, or to fulfill the project quota," he added.
According to the news.com.au report, the Australian band became the first Christian act to ever sell out Los Angeles' famous Staples Centre last year. The group has also sold out shows in Seattle, New York, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas and Boston.
"Our focus has always been to bring hope to as many people as possible through our worship music. Hillsong music generally has had a strong following in America for years, and we are thankful that we have the opportunity of bringing a positive message in what is often a negative world," Tim Whincop, Hillsong Music Australia manager, told news.com.au.
In the CCM Magazine interview, Houston is asked about his favorite track on the album and he explained that it was very difficult to say because every song on the album has a story of its own. "I'm not one for playing favorites, but with this record I feel like every song has a specific and powerful story, and it would be an injustice to focus squarely on any of it as a part. The album is a story made up of stories. Much like the Kingdom. Much like Zion," said band member Joel Houston.
Hillsong United will tour the U.S. in June.