Sign of the Jackal - Breaking the Spell - (8/10)
Published on September 26, 2018
Label:Dying Victims Productions
After a five-year gap following 2013’s Mark of the Beast, Italian trad quintet Sign of the Jackal is back with their sophomore album, entitled Breaking the Spell. Much like its predecessor, Breaking the Spell is a thoroughly enjoyable slab of tried and true heavy metal.
Despite taking their name from a Damien Thorne album, Sign of the Jackal is not heavily indebted to the USPM scene. Instead, the most obvious comparison is Germany’s Warlock, known of course for being the project where Doro Pesch got her start. Like Warlock’s run of late 80s albums, Breaking the Spell is a melodic, up-tempo affair full of catchy riffs and charismatic vocals.
While Laura Coller isn’t a total dead ringer for Doro (she doesn’t quite have the same range) she is a huge reason why Breaking the Spell succeeds at the level it does. Her vocals are strong and gritty and her vocal melodies and choruses are the driving force of the album. Her performance on Breaking the Spell is worth the price of admission alone, delivering knockout choruses in “Night Curse” and stretching for higher notes in “Class of 1999.”
While Coller is an integral part of the album, guitarists Roberto Condini and Max Pinkle are no slouches themselves. The enthusiastic, high octane riffs that these two pump out give Coller a solid foundation to work with. They do a great job with pacing and bust out some razor-sharp leads throughout the album. The rhythm section of Sign of the Jackal is solid, although they clearly take a backseat to the vocals and guitars.
Breaking the Spell’s flaws are mostly minor. My main one is that I don’t think the album ends as strongly as it begins. “Night Curse,” after the synth and lead guitar opener “Regan,” is far and away my favorite track on the album. “Class of 1999” is also a very strong cut, but some of the tracks in the middle and towards the end of the album dip a little bit. They’re good, don’t get me wrong, but “Night Curse” is awesome and one of the best opening tracks I’ve heard all year.
There are plenty of great trad bands keeping the sound of the 80s alive and well. While not as soaring as Crystal Viper or as gritty as Chevalier, Sign of the Jackal have the skills and songwriting to make some waves in the genre and Breaking the Spell is an impressive album.