Good music is timeless and classic albums are often re-released. Not a lot of mid-80’s power metal fits in that category, but The Strongest Power by Leviticus is one of those albums that need to be heard. Originally released in 1985 by Pure Metal Records, this album was actually named one of the best records of the year by Kerrang magazine. They obviously didn’t take the cover art into account as that is absolutely horrible, even for 1985. When M8 records released this in 2000 they included an alternate cover and it nearly as bad as this one, and I’m not even sure in 1985 if this would have been a decent cover. Thankfully, the quality of the music is not reflected in the album cover.
For those like me who aren’t up on the history of Christian metal bands, Leviticus is a Swedish Christian metal band that some refer to as one of the pioneers of Christian metal. Their first ep was released in 1982 and after that they remained a band, releasing four albums before disbanding in 1990. In the late 1980’s, they toured in the US, Europe, Austrailia, Canada, and the USSR and even reuinited in 2003 to play the last Bobfest.
In many ways, this album transports me back to 1985. Yes, production quality is not exactly up to the standards of today, but in many ways, this gives the album more heart and soul. Back around 1985, I was listening to a lot of Dio-era Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and Leviticus would have fit in very nicely among those giants. This is traditional heavy metal, plain and simple. Melodic, guitar solos, soaring vocals, it’s all here just like us old-timers remember it. The one big difference when you compare Leviticus to those other bands is the overtly Christian lyrics and unfortunately, some border on the cheesy side, like “I want to give you the gift of God…the gift of God”, but as mentioned before, if Kerrang could see past those, they are not too much over the top.
As with most albums, there are some stand out tracks and others that are not as strong. The album opens up with three great songs, “The Winner”, “Debora and Barak”, and “On the Rock”. I hear some “Difficult to Cure”-era Rainbow and the vocals have a bit of resemblance to early Danzig during some stretches, which makes for an interesting mix. “King of Kings” as the longest track on the album is one of my least favorite ones although it is definitely saved by some great guitar work by Björn Stigsson. “Stay With Us” is also one of the weaker tracks, but then the fast drum opening and almost Motorhead-like guitar riff kick off “I Got Power” and the album goes back on track. “Look Around” is one of those songs that features a number of different characteristics of mid-80’s sound, with everything from Bruce Dickinson sounding screams to guitar tones that sound like they came off the Rush Signals album (as strange as that sounds). As I listened, the more I found myself finding parts of songs that completely reminded me of songs from that era.
Yes, this is a re-issue of an album that is nearly 30 years old at this point and some of it does sound a bit dated, but for those of us who grew up in this era, this will bring back a flood of memories and for many will make you wish you knew about this album at the time. I likely would have worn out my cassette tape of this album as it has all the good and bad aspects of early to mid-80’s metal that I loved. For those youngsters out there who didn’t have the privilege of growing up during the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and all of those bands, this album can serve as a good history lesson as you should know your roots.
1. The Winner
2. Deborah and Barak
3. On the Rock
4. King of Kings
5. Stay with Us
6. I Got Power
7. Look Around
8. I Love You
9. A New Day
10. Light for the World
Björn Stigsson – All Guitars, Moog-Taurus Basspedal, Synthesizers, Vocals
Håkan Andersson – Lead Vocals, Bass, Moog-Taurus Basspedal
Kjell Andersson – Drums, Percussion
Record Label: Ektro Records, re-release, Aug. 2013 (originally released 1985 and re-released on M8 records in 2000)