Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sign Of The Jackal- Mark of the Beast

High Roller Records

When I first laid witness to Italy's Sign Of The Jackal back in 2011 (when they made my best of 2011 list!) I was blown away by the killer "The Beyond"! That 5-track EP (which included a choice cover of "Head Over Heals" by Meghan) was my personal introduction to this female-fronted, horror movie influenced, heavy metal act and that introduction lead to repeated listens of anything Sign Of The Jackal related. Now the group, who were originally formed in 2007, are finally releasing their long-awaited full-length debut album and to say that I walked into this one high on life is a huge understatement! The line-up for "Mark of the Beast" is Laura Coller (vocals), Roberto "Bob" Condini (guitars, vocals), Max (guitars, vocals, keyboards), Röby "Knife" (bass, vocals) and Heavy Mate (drums, vocals) and, from top (Laurie) to bottom (Heavy Mate) everyone sounds as if they came locked and loaded for this release! It's more of the same for this Italian act as they pull in their musical influences (everyone from Exciter to Black Lace) and stuff the sound with horror movie magic. Before we go any further though let's save some of you out there a bit of time. If you liked "The Beyond" or "Haunted House Tapes" then read no further. Just stop what you're doing and go out and pick this one up. If it's not out yet when you read this then pre-order it if you can. The foundation of killer traditional heavy metal that those two earlier recordings established is built on over the course of this new album. Brick by brick, track by track you find Sign Of The Jackal ripping through 80's-inspired heavy metal while they lovingly showcase their affection for classic horror flicks. I've said it before and I'll say it again folks. When you combine female-fronted metal, 80's influences and horror movies you get what I consider a winner! OK, that said there is a few things worth mentioning. Truthfully there are only four new tracks on the 12-song promo I listened to* so that might be a downer to some folks. That said all of the songs that were previously released on other recordings are different here. The re-recorded tracks are different versions and they sound much better on "Mark of the Beast". Side by side I prefer these new versions over the demo versions. What helps with that is the production which has improved since they signed on with High Roller Records. "Mark of the Beast" has a near perfect sound for heavy metal like this. The overall vibe is still eighties in nature, but this 12-track release never falls into the trap of sounding retro thankfully. Sigh Of The Jackal acknowledges their roots (Judas Priest, Taist of Iron, Iron Maiden, Malteze, etc), but they never look back for too long. Instead Laura Coller, who sounds as sinister as she does sensual, leads her band-mates into battle and, as they fight tooth and nail until the bitter end, they give it all for the glory of heavy metal and they succeed!

* As on "The Beyond" both the CD and vinyl version of "Mark of the Beast" will feature a unique cover song!

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