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Leviticus - IN HIS SERVICE

Leviticus, along with fellow Swedes Jerusalem, were royalty in the Christian metal kingdom of the early 80's. Thrash and extreme metal had yet to take over, and melodic vocals and classic or power metal ruled the day. Guitarist and band leader Bjorn Stigsson started this band with cousins Hakan Andersson and Kjell Andersson back in 1981. Bjorn and Kjell have been on every album, but other members, including vocalists have changed over the years.

Leviticus started their career singing in Swedish, with an EP and the Swedish version of I Shall Conquer, but this boxed set contains only their English language releases, which have been long out of print. 1984's I Shall Conquer and 1985's The Strongest Power both have the original trio, with Hakan Andersson on lead vocals and bass. Hakan has the deep accented voice that I prefer most on the Leviticus albums, and I'm definitely biased towards The Strongest Power as their best album, with its 1-2-3 punch of "The Winner," "Deborah and Barak," and "On the Rock" kicking off the album.

For 1987's Setting Fire to the Earth, Terry Haw became the lead singer. His vocals on this album are a bit over the top, although his post-Leviticus band Jet Circus was really great. Still, the album had such hits as "Flames of Fire," and "The Suffering Servant."

Sonny Larsson (of Motherlode) was the next singer in the lineup, but does not appear on any album, except Bjorn Stigsson's solo effort Together With Friends (which was excellent and should have been reissued with this boxed set in my humble opinion) and later in the post-Leviticus band XT with Stigsson.

1989 saw the band's final studio album Knights of Heaven with yet another singer, Peo Pettersson. Peo was a good singer with some power, but seemed to be hampered by the Elefante Brothers, who wanted to turn Leviticus into the next Whitesnake, with slick production. This album had some good songs, like "Born Again," and even some palatable ballads, but was much more of a pop metal effort than the previous releases.

As mentioned before, some of the members popped up in other bands after 1990 brought an end to Leviticus. In 2003, the band reunited at Bobfest with Peo on vocals and the event was recorded on CD. This box set includes the 4 studio albums and a DVD of the 2003 reunion. There are a handful of bonus tracks on each album, and everything has been remastered by Stigsson.

Each CD is in a mini lp sleeve, with the original Swedish art for the first two albums, with an informative booklet and pictures of all eras, all housed in a small box made to look like stone. The band has been doing the occasional show, with Peo on vocals, and Hakan back on bass, so here's hoping they'll get the itch to do another Leviticus album. In the mean time, get this boxed set to relive their glory days, or discover them, if you weren't there the first time around. 4 stars out of 5. (Indie) - Chris Gatto

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