Leviticus - The Strongest Power
Ektro Records
Christian Heavy Metal
10 songs (40' 29")
Release year: 1985
Ektro Records
Reviewed by Andy
Archive review

Just re-released by Ektro Records, Leviticus' 1985 hit, The Strongest Power, is not going to be everyone's cup of tea, even though when it came out it was hailed by at least one metal magazine as one of the year's best records. But what else would one expect from a Swedish pioneer of 80s Christian heavy metal? There is some amazing Christian metal out there, but this one isn't one of those -- at first listen, it hasn't stood the test of time very well (and is barely cleaned up, if at all, since the '85 release). The lyrics are dumb, the riffs are fairly simple, and the production's not great...so why do I like it anyway?

Part of it, perhaps, is the relentlessly positive feeling of the power trio responsible for the album. I don't just mean the lyrics -- Christian metal tends to contain an uplifting message -- but the combination of Håkan Andersson's party-rock vocals backed by the rest of the band, the confused but enthusiastically delivered lyrics, and the major-key hooks used in the songwriting gives the whole album a delightful garage-band feel. The other part is the weird chord structure the band chooses for parts of the songs, which gives the songs a dissonant feel in the midst of the traditional heavy metal riffs. The Winner, the first song on the album, is medium-to-fast, with simple yet effective riffs, but not as interesting as Deborah and Barak, a plodding, rhythmic song based on the Old Testament account. Too bad it doesn't get into the gory details, however, as this would be one of the best parts of the Bible to be made into a metal song. On the Rock, too, with a harmonized chorus and a major-key turn, is one of the better ones on the album.

The next few songs are a bit less remarkable. King of Kings and Stay with Us are steadily pounding, mid-tempo songs that play nicely to Andersson's voice, but aren't much to write home about otherwise, and I Got Power is pretty mindless. But Look Around and A New Day are a turn for the better melodically; both have a strong performance by Andersson, and both have momentary sparkles of power in the music that, sadly, is reduced by the band's limited repertoire of riffs.

It's not for everybody, but The Strongest Power's got some redeeming parts that can make it fun to listen to and perhaps somewhat of a guilty pleasure. From the album's cover, a Sunday-school-style illustration of the Deborah/Barak story featuring a large-breasted Deborah in a tight dress, to the falsetto screams and whistles of Andersson on songs ostensibly about God, this is an exuberantly ridiculous album. Though one would see it as rather flawed today, it still manages to shine a bit.

Killing Songs :
Deborah and Barak, On the Rock, Look Around
Andy quoted 65 / 100
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