Leviticus – “I Shall Conquer!” (1984)

LeviticusAs we all know, metal is the devil’s music.  It’s one of his better inventions.  But every once in a while, the other team gave it a go.  Here we have one of the earliest offerings of the Christian metal persuasion (and a Swedish one at that).  Being one of the founding Christian metal acts had its perks, I suppose — most notably, being able to snatch up a cool Biblical band name before they were all taken.  Leviticus was a nice choice.  (Lazarus would have been my pick.)

I Shall Conquer! was released in Sweden in 1984 by Talking Music Records.  This was actually an English language re-recording of Leviticus’ 1983 Swedish language album Jag Skall Segra! (Stanley & Andrew Music).  In 1985, I Shall Conquer! was released in the States via Shadow Records (with a different cover).  In 2000, Magdalene Records re-released I Shall Conquer! on CD for what I believe to be the first time in that format.

I’m not a man of religion, but I’ll never let that get in the way of me enjoying some tasty old school metal.  I Shall Conquer! is a crusty, shoddily produced effort, delivered bluntly yet mightily, not unlike a Heavy Load or Axewitch offering.  Though somewhat cheap sounding and admittedly dated, I can’t help but love I Shall Conquer! for one simple reason… it’s just so damn catchy!  Guitarist and song writer Bjorn Stigsson had an uncomplicated approach to penning tunes, usually relying on the well-worn ‘verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus’ template.  For the most part, Leviticus didn’t bother with too many extracurricular complications like long instrumental sections or extended lead breaks.  In many songs, the verses transition to the choruses virtually without warning, as if cut and pasted into place.  But behind the righteous bellow of vocalist Hakan Andersson and the band’s steadfast adherence to melody above all else, Leviticus certainly found their way into my blackened heart, as unholy as it may be.  Favorites here include the uplifting Action More Than Words and Striving Forwards.  Another highlight is the surprisingly pleasant ballad All Is Calm.  As I Shall Conquer! comes to a close with a song called Psalm 23, we are once again reminded to fear no evil, even if strolling through the valley of the shadow of death.  Will do, Leviticus.  Will do.  My score: B+

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