1. I Shall Conquer (4:13)
When I first got into Christian heavy metal back in the mid-1980's, this was one of the first albums I picked up. I still have that original vinyl. I must admit that when I first purchased it, I listened to "I Shall Conquer" over and over again and many of these songs are ingrained into my memory, especially the title track. The album features a smoking guitarist in Bjorn Stiggson. Listen to his soaring guitar work in "Let Me Fight" or the moody "Psalm 23". However, I also admit that this is one of the cheesiest metal albums ever recorded. The music sounds incredible dated and hasn't withstood the test of time well. While the songs themselves aren't bad, the mid-range, chock full of reverb vocals, along with the keyboard drenched production hold this one back from being all that it could have been. Still, "I Shall Conquer" is one of the earliest Christian metal albums to be released, and is therefore an important part of Chrisitian metal history and holds a lot of nostalgic value for me. I still pull it out every once in a while and give it a spin. Sure, it's cheesy, but who doesn't like a big 'ol hunk of cheddar every know and then?
1. "The Winner" (4:04)
"The Strongest Power" is basically "I Shall Conquer" Part 2. The first two Leviticus albums are very similar in style. Both are traditional heavy metal with a sound similar to some of the NWOBHM bands. However, I think that "Strongest Power" is actually slightly better than "I Shall Conquer". The overall sound is more melodic and the songs are more memorable. Songs like "The Winner", "King of Kings" and "On the Rock" all have memorable hooks. The overall sound is raw and fairly heavy for the mid 1980's. The low budget recording actually works for this album. It should also be noted that Bjorn Stigsson is a very good guitarist. He lays down some choice leads throughout this album.
There are two different covers available for this album. Both are featured in the M8 reissue. This reissue also includes the bands "Stå Och Titta På" debut EP as bonus tracks. These songs are slightly more cheesy than the "Strongest Power" tracks, but to be quite frank, the whole thing is a bit cheesy. Still, nothing wrong with a big old hunk of cheddar every now and then.
"Setting Fire to the Earth" is the third full-length album from Swedish heavy metal band Leviticus. The album featured a new line-up, including Ez Gomér was brought in to replace Håkan Andersson on bass, and vocalist Terry Haw (aka Terry H). "Setting Fire" is an immediately likeable album with tons of hooks and some fantastic guitar work. As well,
Terry's vocals take this band to a whole new level. His clean, smooth voice perfectly fits the band's melodic heavy metal sound. "Setting Fire to the Earth" is easily my favorite Leviticus CD.
Leviticus - Knights of Heaven (Royal Music/Refuge) 1989
1. "Born Again"
"Knights of Heaven" saw Leviticus move even further into the melodic, commercial style of metal that was hinted at on "Setting Fire to the Earth". Frankly, for them, it was good move. This is without a doubt their most solid album. Everything was improved about the band, from the production, to the vocals, to the songwriting. Much of this is compliments of the Elefante brothers (Guardian, X-Sinner, Petra), who have a knack for writing and producing solid, radio-ready rock. I suppose for those who prefered the band's earlier attempts at straight forward heavy metal, this album is a bit of a let down. To be quit frank, however, I found early albums like "I Shall Conquer" to be ultra-cheesy and just downright bad. That is not to say that this CD doesn't contain some elements of cheese. After all, it was the 80's! Check out the song "Feel So Good" and it's "OOOEE, OOEEE" chorus. However, cheese in small doses is actually enjoyable as it is here. Bjorn Stigsson is forever the most underrated guitarist ever, as is proven here by some of his outstanding leads. Most of the lead work here isn't overly flashy, but the man knows how to write a lead that really compliments the songs. Songs like "Messiah" are complimented nicely by the melodic lead work. Standout cuts are "Born Again", "Strong Love", "Over The Hills", "Messiah" and "Isn't It Love."