Sunday, July 21, 2013

Leviticus-The Strongest Power

Here's a cult release that I've only read about but never heard. Or at least I've never heard presented with such a clean and clear sound. Due for release on August 16th, which means that those of us who have waited to hold a copy of this legendary album in our hands will have to wait just a little bit longer, this album is considered to be a classic in the field of Christian heavy metal. Here's the deal though. Once again we're talking about a Christian metal release that you don't have to be a Christian to enjoy. Originally released in 1985, to great reviews from both the Christian and secular press, the album would help signal the arrival of "white metal".  While it wasn't the first release by Leviticus, as they had first hit the scene with an EP in 1982, it was arguably their best piece of work at that point in their career. It would go on to be the group's breakout moment and it would forever link this Swedish act as one of the most important bands in the history of Christian heavy metal. That says a lot about the staying power of this classic as there have been countless classic Christian heavy metal releases since this first hit the stores. Like many other groups from that same time period this Swedish act, who initially sang entirely in Swedish before re-releasing the album "Jag Skall Segra" in English in 1984, drew from the earlier sounds of the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement. Formed in 1981, and lead by skilled guitarist Bjorn Stigsson, Leviticus played a refreshing form of real heavy metal that helped prove that Christian heavy metal could compete with secular heavy metal. That might sound silly now (as there are hundreds (probably thousands) of Christian heavy metal, thrash and death metal groups that have crossed over into the mainstream), but at the time you would have been hard pressed to find one this good, this talented and one this universally praised. That being said, I do recall how some critics (over the years I had read scores of reviews for this album before I was actually able to hear this album all the way through) had gone to great lengths to point out the cheese factor that exists of "The Strongest Power". While you can't deny that it exists within these tracks it's not like it was standing all by itself in an open field or anything! As the band embraced not only the British heavy metal style of the day, as well as the aforementioned nwobhm influences, but also the 80's metal scene in general (both here in the states and overseas) they were only rocking out in the same way that most groups were rocking out back then. Only with Leviticus it wasn't girls, goblins, dragons, witches and knights of old themes that infiltrated their lyrics. Instead it was (to quote the promo here) "traditional heavy metal themes - individuality, freedom, power, glory, rocking, running in the night" that swept through this album and amounted to "cheese" for some. I get that and then again I don't as some of the reviewers of old would dismiss this album while praising other similarly-cut 80's bands. It is what it is I guess but in no way does it take away from the enjoyment of listening to this pioneering Christian heavy metal group for the first time. And you know what? It won't be the last time I check out this re-release as we're talking about some well-written, hook-crazy music here that is right down the line straight and true heavy metal. I'll be adding a CD copy of this album to my personally collection when it rolls out next month. This LP is the sound of traditional heavy metal in all of it's dressed-up and looking good glory! It's a thing of beauty and one cult-metal release that I'm glad to see getting a modern re-release. The band deserves it and so do the fans.

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