|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: Leviticus|
|Record Label: Talking Music||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 1984||Artist Website: Leviticus|
|Tracks: 9||Rating: 60%|
|Running Time: 39:25|
Establishing itself along with Jerusalem and Charizma as a pioneering force in the Swedish Christian hard rock movement, Leviticus ultimately helped to pave the way for other Swedish acts to follow such as Veni Domine, Narnia, Laudamus and Harmony. Formed in the early eighties by Bjorn Stigsson, Hakan Andersson and Kjell Andersson, Leviticus recorded a four song EP entitled Sta Och Titta Pa in 1982 and the Swedish version of its full length debut I Shall Conquer (Jag Skall Segra) the following year. Talking Music released the English version of I Shall Conquer in 1984, while the US release followed in 1985 on Shadow Records but with different album artwork.
Bjorn Stigsson is the driving force behind the project, handling all rhythm and lead guitar duties in addition to making a major contribution to the albums songwriting. Bassist Hakan Andersson and drummer Kjell Andersson form a rhythm section defined by substantial bass lines and precise drumming (check out the double bass on the tracks "He's My Life" and "Doubt"). Hakan Andersson also fills in on lead vocals but, with a flat sounding mid-octave ranged voice, proves the only area of weakness in the bands performance.
I Shall Conquer is held back by a weak and muddy sounding production job. The rhythm guitar sounds thin and transparent. Except for a few moments when the double bass rises above the instrumentation, the drums sound lost and buried. The lead guitar and bass would both improve with a cleaner sounding mix.
Jumping out of the gate with a ton of up-tempo energy, the albums hard rocking title tracks quickly moves through its first verse before slowing upon reaching its strong bass guitar driven chorus. Stigsson punctuates the song with several seconds of sharp sounding lead guitar work. As its title suggests, "I Shall Conquer" talks about spiritual warfare:
The Lord gives me strength along my way
He gives me the victory sword in my hand
As a soldier He has armed me
And now I go fighting in His name
A future in His hands, and the promise is His Word
And I shall conquer...
Beginning to a drum solo, a hard hitting riff drives "Let Me Fight" in aggressive fashion to a catchy chorus backed by just the right amount of keyboards and vocal harmonies. Thirty seconds of high-octane lead guitar work brings out the best in a song continuing the album with its theme of spiritual warfare:
Oh, Lord, let me fight, and win the battle for Your name
You have equipped me and I go to the front
Yes, the truth is my belt, and faith is my shield
And the sword is your Word, that I hold
"He's My Life" fades in before a driving guitar riff urges it forward with an abundance of momentum to a brief but non-stop hook filled chorus. A bass guitar solo opens an instrumental passage in which Stigsson cuts loose with a blazing guitar solo carried over pounding double bass.
The wonderful groove influenced hard rock of "Doubt" ranks among the albums strongest tracks. Advancing through its first verse in an acoustic laced manner as the rhythm guitar fades in and out of the mix, "Doubt" reaches a double bass driven chorus with a catchy refuse to go away hook. Several seconds of bluesy lead guitar work only add to the songs appeal.
After "Action More Than Words" takes off at an upbeat tempo, it slows to the muffled sounding blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards that conveys its first verse. The song regains its momentum as the rhythm guitar moves to the front of the mix to reinforce a good hard hitting chorus. I wish the band had expanded upon an instrumental passage limited to a few brief seconds of rhythm guitar.
"All Is Calm" ranks among the finest power ballads this reviewer has heard. An acoustic guitar slowly impels "All Is Calm" through its first verse until it picks up in pace as keyboards interweave with the acoustic guitar, the two taking the song to an infectious chorus that would have dominated FM radio if given the chance. An emotional setting is created as the rhythm guitar fades into the mix before "All Is Calm" reaches its third verse. Stigsson's fiery lead guitar work shores up the last minute of a song talking about the second coming:
Then the Lord will come, then the Lord will come
As a thief in the night, as a thief in the night
That's how the Lord will come
No one has promised, no promise is given
About a day tomorrow, We plan, we spend
But everyone says: all is calm...
A blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards carries the no frills straightforward hard rocker "Day By Day" forward, the song gaining further impetus as it attains an even sounding guitar driven chorus. An edgy rhythm guitar backed by pounding drums closes out a song focusing on victory in the life of a Christian:
As wax melts before the fire so let the evil perish
And before the name of Jesus no one is unmoved
When the Lord goes before His people and fight against the dark
The earth and heaven shake with the power of His might
Moving through its first verse to a crunchy riff underscored by a punchy bass line, "Strive Forwards" culminates for an upbeat chorus reinforcing the importance of leaving the past behind and looking to the future:
Yes I will go, I will strive forwards
Yes I will go the way of the Lord
Stigsson steps forward with thirty seconds of blistering lead guitar work.
"Psalm 23" proceeds at a slower more mid-tempo pace as a blend of acoustic guitar and keyboards takes the song through the well known biblical passage in question. Once it moves past two minutes, however, "Psalm 23" shifts gears and picks up in pace as Stigsson's well executed lead guitar work closes out its last several minutes.
While I Shall Conquer is held back by a low budget production job and a shaky lead vocal performance, the album does a good job highlighting the bands top notch musicianship and well rounded songwriting skills. While "Doubt" and "All Is Calm" are the albums two strongest tracks, the driving hard rock of "I Shall Conquer", "Let Me Fight" and "He's My Life" hold up equally well.
In 2000 Magdalene Records re-issued I Shall Conquer with three bonus tracks – “Folj mig”, "Leva som Han lar” and “Min Mastare” - from Sta Och Titta Pa. While the three songs in question are a bit rough around the edges production wise – I might describe the music as keyboard driven hard rock – they are certainly very nostalgic and worth hearing.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "I Shall Conquer" (4:13), "Let Me Fight" (3:17), "He’s My Life" (4:10), "Doubt" (4:20), "Action More Than Words" (4:08), "All Is Calm" (5:20), "Day By Day" (5:57), "Strive Forwards" (3:38), "Psalm 23" (4:17)
Bjorn Stigsson – Guitars & Synthesizers
Hakan Andersson – Lead Vocals & Bass
Kjell Andersson – Drums & Percussions
Videos: "Let Me Fight"