“MKII” by Masterplan

Artist: Masterplan
Title: “MKII”
Label: Candlelight Records
Release Date: 3/20/2007
Genre: Power Metal
Rating: 4/5

Oddly enough I had never listened to the Melodic Power Metal band Masterplan before this album even though I was well aware of the group that Roland Grapow and Uli Kusch had founded back in 2002 after being fired from the legendary Helloween. More resultant of it being a matter of time to absorb every band out there against any form of slight I was well aware of how popular they had become and meant to sink my teeth into them one way or another. Sadly by the time I got to it drummer Kusch had moved on and formed Beautiful Sin while singer Jorn Lande had departed citing musical “differences”, the all too common phrase we hear from bands around the world from time to time. My own exploration into their Power Metal glory would begin with two new members and ones I have enjoyed listening to in the past with other groups. The first was singer Mike DeMeo who many remember from his work with Riot but who also was commendable as a Bluesy-Hard Rocker with The Lizards (a band that featured Bobby Rondinelli) and madman behind the kit – Mr. Mike Terrana. Terrana has done his percussive damage in bands like Yngwie and Rage and can also be heard on over a dozen more notable artists as well. The question would be could the pair fit in and offer up a seamless transition for the band’s fan base and I am happy to report this as a yes. With no offense to Lande, I thought that DeMeo was a perfect fit for the group and with his joining forces we can all now enjoy new melodic Metal adventures as they are forged.

After the opening melodies of “Phoenix Rising” are heard we get a powerhouse of a number in “Warriors Cry” which is a track that stands tall and had me doing air guitar and pretend vocalist of old since I had so much fun as it played through. Having the new members adding their unique style to the mix led me to find the harmonies were not only rich in Power Metal standards but also had some strong Blues influx as well and when you add the throttling drumming by Mike Terrana you had an album that meant business and was sure to remind you that this form of the genre was still going and growing strong. Tunes like “Call The Gipsy” reminded me a little of Kamelot, a powerhouse in today’s Melodic Metal world while “Trust In You” had hints of Whitesnake and Dio to it. Yet despite some of the similarities that I draw the album and band are not as interchangeable with the rest of the crop of groups of this type and yet manage to be the perfect blend of old and new school styles. It’s safe to say that the larger demographic of Power Metal fans could safely enjoy much if not all of this album as they keep the sound fresh and every track seems loaded with necessary energy for them to be a continually growing success.

Grapow’s guitar sings as we expected it to and I times I felt that perhaps he even views the group with some renewed enthusiasm even after the aspect of losing two popular members in the genre for the new blood he had brought on. Fortunately for him the players while new to Masterplan were no strangers to Metal and came to the game very well prepared. The band’s name track of “Masterplan” is sure to be a fan favorite as a powerful and memorable number while the closer of “Heart Of Darkness” is a slowly trudging epic that really works as the albums final piece. The bands original fan base might hold too strongly on the bands earlier work and find issues in this one for the sake of it, but I advise others to be a little more open minded and free when it comes to enjoying a truly thrilling recording. This is recommendation for fans of Blind Guardian, Helloween and Gamma Ray as well as others along these same lines.

Track Listing:
1. Phoenix Rising
2. Warriors Cry
3. Lost And Gone
4. Keeps Me Burning
5. Take Me Over
6. I’m Gonna Win
7. Watching The World
8. Call The Gipsy
9. Trust In You
10. Masterplan
11. Enemy
12. Heart Of Darkness

Official Website: www.master-plan.net

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