Leviticus are a Swedish heavy metal band lead by guitarist Bjorn Stigsson. They are generally heralded as pioneers in Christian heavy metal.
They released their first EP in 1982, and the first full length album the year after. These first 2 releases were in Swedish language, but
soon they recorded the debut 'Jag Skall Segra' in English, titling it 'I Shall Conquer'.

Leviticus - I Shall Conquer
(Shadow) 1984

Leviticus - I Shall Conquer (M8) 2001

1. I Shall Conquer (4:13)
2. Let Me Fight (3:17)
3. He's My Life (4:10)
4. Doubt (4:20)
5. Action More Than Words (4:08)
6. All Is Calm (5:20)
7. Day By Day (5:57)
8. Strive Forwards (3:38)
9. Psalm 23 (4:17)
10. Följ Mig (4:07)
11. Leva Som Han Lär (4:31)
12. Min Mästare (7:26)

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?

"I Shall Conquer" was not released on CD until 2000 on Magdalen Records/M8. The CD reissue included three songs from the band's first EP. The reissue was limited to 2500 copies which have since sold out making it a collector's item that sells for a hefty sum on Ebay. The insert features both versions of the cover art so that either can be displayed in the jewel case.

The Strongest Power
Leviticus - The Strongest Power
(1985/1986, 2000) M8

1. "The Winner" (4:04)
2. "Deborah and Barak" (3:24)
3. "On The Rock" (2:56)
4. "King Of Kings" (5:16)
5. "Stay With Us" (3:52)
6. "I Got Power" (3:57)
7. "Look Around" (4:29)
8. "I Love You" (3:14)
9. "A New Day" (4:11)
10. "Light For The World" (5:09)
BONUS TRACKS (1982 Stå Och Titta På' EP)
11. "Stå Och Titta På" (5:14)
12. "Följ Mig" (4:07)
13. "Leva Som Han Lär" (4:29)
14. "Min Mästare" (7:25)

"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
Leviticus - Setting Fire to the Earth
(Pure Metal) 1987

1. "Flames of Fire" (3:18)
2. "Saved" (4:07)
3. "The First & the Last" (3:39)
4. "I'm A Believer" (3:56)
5. "Don't Go Out" (3:33)
6. "Elijah on Carmel" (3:50)
7. "The Suffering Servant" (4:49)
8. "Get Up" (3:37)
9. "Love is Love" (4:01)

Leviticus 1987

"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.

Terry Haw and Ez Gomér went on to form Jet Circus.

Knights of Heaven Leviticus - Knights of Heaven (Royal Music/Refuge) 1989

1. "Born Again" (3:40)
2. "The World Goes Round" (4:19)
3. "Isn't It Love" (4:36)
4. "Oh, Lord" (4:53)
5. "Feels So Good" (2:2)5
6. "Strong Love" (3:39)
7. "Messiah" (3:58)
8. "Over the Hills" (3:57)
9. "For Once in My Life" (4:09)
10. "Love On Fire" (3:42)

"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."

In His Service Leviticus - In His Service (Talking Music) 2015

DISC ONE (I Shall Conquer)
1. I Shall Conquer (4:13)
2. Let Me Fight (3:17)
3. He's My Life (4:10)
4. Doubt (4:20)
5. Action More Than Words (4:08)
6. All Is Calm (5:20)
7. Day By Day (5:57)
8. Strive Forwards (3:38)
9. Psalm 23 (4:17)
10. All Is Calm [live] (5:53)

DISC TWO (The Strongest Power)
1.  The Winner (4:04)
2.  Deborah and Barak (3:24)
3.  On The Rock (2:56)
4.  King Of Kings (5:16)
5.  Stay With Us (3:52)
6.  I Got Power (3:57)
7.  Look Around (4:29)
8.  I Love You (3:14)
9.  A New Day (4:11)
10. Light For The World"(5:09)
11. Deborah and Barak [live] (4:16)
DISC THREE (Setting Fire to the Earth)
1.  Flames of Fire (3:18)
2.  Saved (4:07)
3.  The First & the Last (3:39)
4.  I'm A Believer (3:56)
5.  Don't Go Out (3:33)
6.  Elijah on Carmel (3:50)
7.  The Suffering Servant (4:49)
8.  Get Up (3:37)
9.  Love is Love (4:01)
10. Flames of Fire [remix] (3:22)
11. Saved [remix] (4:09)

DISC FOUR (Knights of Heaven)
1.  Born Again (3:40)
2.  The World Goes Round (4:19)
3.  Isn't It Love (4:36)
4.  Oh, Lord (4:53)
5.  Feels So Good (2:25)
6.  Strong Love (3:39)
7.  Messiah (3:58)
8.  Over the Hills (3:57)
9.  For Once in My Life (4:09)
10. Love On Fire (3:42)
11. Born Again [remix] (3:44)
12. Strong Love [remix] (3:41)
13. Messiah [remix] (4:08)
14. Feels So Good [remix] (2:22)

DISC FIVE (Live At Bobfest 2003 - DVD)
1.  Flames Of Fire" (3:55)
2.  Saved" (4:41)
3.  Messiah" (4:14)
4.  Oh Lord" (5:12)
5.  Majestic In Power" (5:24)
6.  On The Rock" (3:24)
7.  All Is Calm" (5:52)
8.  Born Again" (4:36)
9.  The Suffering Servant" (7:27)
10. Deborah And Barak" (4:21)
11. I’m Gonna Rock" (7:23)

Leviticus are a Swedish heavy metal band formed in the early 1980's by guitarist Björn Stigsson and cousins Håkan Andersson (vocals/bass) and Kjell Andersson (drums). Bjorn and Kjell would remain the two constant members of the band over their years together. Leviticus are generally heralded as pioneers of Christian heavy metal, being inspired by the 1970's heavy metal greats as well as early 80's bands such as Saxon. After practicing and performing together for a couple years they released their first EP in '82, and the first full length album the year after. These first 2 releases were in Swedish language, but soon after they re-recorded the debut 'Jag Skall Segra' in English, titling it 'I Shall Conquer'. Talking Music released the English  version of "I Shall Conquer" in 1984, while the US release came out the following year on Shadow Records with new, improved cover art.  Leviticus recorded their second full length album with the same power-trio line up in '85 with "The Strongest Power", which saw re-release a year later on Pure Metal Records, again with revised cover art. After their second album, vocalist and bassist Håkan Andersson left the band and Leviticus went through a couple of different bassists and vocalists.

"In His Service" is a five disc, 35th Anniversary box set that encompasses most of the Leviticus catalog and includes all four full length albums, as well as the "Live At Bobfest 2003" DVD. The set includes a 24-page, full-color booklet with a in-depth band biography, a ton of vintage photos and a discography featuring artwork for each version of the albums along with in-depth liner notes.  Each CD comes packaged in it's own slipcase featuring the original album covers. For whatever reason the reproduction of the artwork is poorly printed, or poorly scanned. They look muted and flat compared to the original extremely flat, as compared to the original. Chances are someone did a poor job of converting the RGB scans to CMYK. This is really a minor complaint.

At one time, I found the first two albums didn't hold a candle to the third and fourth albums. In fact, if you read my early reviews of this album (above) you will see that at one time "Setting Fire to the Earth" was my favorite Leviticus record. Over time I have come to appreciate those early albums moreso than the later two. While the first two do have a dated late 70's/early 80's sound, there is something endearing about that sound. Hokan Andersson's vocals are unique and packed with emotion. I still enjoy "Setting Fire to the Earth" and "Knights of Heaven", but both those albums have a far more common sound for their time and far more commercial and poppy, especially "Knights of Heaven" which has that very distinct Elephante sound and production. However, I still love classic songs like "Flames of Fire".

The live DVD was recorded at Bobfest in Sweden in 2003.  This DVD is something that I had not seen before receiving this box set, and to be honest I didn't get to spend much time watching since receiving it. However, I did let the DVD play whilst I listened and quite enjoyed it. Much like the bonus track remixes, the organs/keyboards were matching the volume of the guitars. The crowd sounded lively, which adds to the overall energy of the live performance. It's cool that a couple cuts from the long forgotten Bjorn Stiggson solo album "Together With Friends" are also included. My only complaint about this set list is that very few songs were included from the first two albums with classic cuts like "Let Me Fight" and "I Shall Conquer" left off the set list. Then again, without Hokan Andersson behind the mic, they may not have faired as well.

The bonus material on this collection aren't much to speak of. There are a couple live tracks from the "Bobfest" DVD included on the first two albums. The remaining two albums have remixes of songs from those albums. It's interesting that the remixes don't attempt to make the new songs sound more modern, but rather a song like "Flames of Fire" has more organs mixed in to give the song a sound akin to Deep Purple or Uriah Heep. On "Saved" the bass guitar is much more audible and the guitars have a brighter sound. As with "Flames of Fire" the organ sound has been introduced as well, once again I am reminded of those early First Wave of British Heavy Metal bands who incorporated the heavy organs along side the guitars. The same holds true of the four "Knights of Heaven" bonus tracks. "Feels So Good" is a heavy metal shuffle given a slight heavier sound than the original and reminds me of 1970's era Van Halen. I actually quite enjoyed these remixes. However, my biggest criticism of this box set is the lack of rare or unreleased songs. Surely Leviticus could have dug a little deeper into their vaults and added some previously unreleased demos or at the very least a re-mastered version to the "Sta Och Titta Pa" EP. Otherwise this 35th Anniversary box set is a nice career retrospective and a welcome addition to any classic heavy metal fanatics collection.

Also on vinyl:
Bjorn Stigsson & Friends - Together With Friends (Pure Metal)

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