SIGN OF THE JACKAL
"The Beyond"

(Heavy Artillery)

01. Hellhounds
02. Head Over Heels
03. Heavy Metal Demons
04. Paganini Horror
05. Night of the Undead

RATING: 7.5/10

A good band these NWOBMH-lovin' Italians. Furthermore, "The Beyond" is a good example of what a fan-focused limited edition release should be all about; really not surprising considering Heavy Artillery has made a habit of offering these types of bang for the buck releases to the poor huddled masses.

Much more than a thrown together holdover release, "The Beyond" collects several SIGN OF THE JACKAL demo tunes and packages them up in a way that should build anticipation for the upcoming full-length. Grab the vinyl version and you'll get an extra cut. Enlisting Enzo Sciotto, he of '70s/'80s movie flyer fame, was a smart move as well and fits with the horror cinema themes that abound.

As for the metal itself, the MCD launches in fine form with "Hellhounds", a track sporting some JUDAS PRIEST and ACCEPT similarities, made more impressive by the fact that it was the first song SIGN OF THE JACKAL ever wrote. It is also the first of several on which vocalist Laura Coller demonstrates her skill as a front woman and vocalist; she's definitely got that certain something. Arriving next is "Head over Heels", a mid-tempo chugging cover originally recorded by MEGHAN, a "rare, female-fronted HM band of the '80s." The ghostly backing vocals are rather chilling. Originally appearing in 2009 on the KIT compilation "The Underground Kodex", "Heavy Metal Demons" was inspired by Lamberto Bava and kicks a large amount of ass with its stop/start cadence and hot leads, although the opening twin lead section reminds of BON JOVI's "You Give Love a Bad Name". Was that intentional? "Paganini Horror" is an excellent instrumental recorded in tribute to Luigi Cozzi after the members watched the movie of the same name. The wrap-up track "Night of the Undead" is a proud banger as well. Aside from some of the patterns bringing to mind MÖTLEY CRÜE's "Looks that Kill", this one is denim 'n leather wearin' NWOBHM to the bone.

For those with a need for comparison acts, "The Beyond" is reminiscent of newer acts like CAULDRON and ENFORCER, as well as vintage era bands like WARLOCK, LIZZY BORDEN, and ANGEL WITCH to a certain degree. If that doesn't tell you what's in store for the listener on "The Beyond", then you probably never cared about traditional heavy metal in the first place. Be on the lookout for the full-length.

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