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Masterplan - Masterplan CD (album) cover




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3.76 | 52 ratings

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4 stars There was a period of time in my life as a young man when I found it difficult to understand deep, complex music, especially when it's basically prog. I held myself onto mainstream music, especially to post-grunge music, but the problem was that there were so many different songs crossing my mind that I've had difficulties to decide what's my most favourite band/group/artist. But now as I found something that offered me a warm, friendly step towards the further understanding of music in the prog and metal territory, Masterplan revealed the opportunity and marked the beginning of a new path where people like me walk further away from the eclectic fields of the mainstream territory.

And as I have shared my first experience of becoming one of the million pilgrims in the prog and metal world, I am writing my first review on the first album that gave me one of my life's revelations: The Masterplan debut album.

Looking back to the first days when I listened to Masterplan, I never thought that power metal could grab me with with its catchy, accessible melodies but also with the complexity that allows the songs to keep growing on me. The band's reliability on their song's depth was somewhat inspired from the progressive rock/metal territory, most notably from the Norwegian band Ark. So, the founding members, Roland Grapow and Uli Kusch, have really used their potential to their fullest since they were fired by the remaining band members of Helloween. I've personally never been a fan of the latter, so I guess it justifies the duo's commitment to what was originally their side-project.

And so... our lord above sent us Jorn Lande! That's right, Jorn frigging Lande! By now, he's been famous for his voice, which (and here we go again) possesses the versatility of David Coverdale and the power of Ronnie James Dio. Not only am I in love of his unique voice and his melodic songwriting, I also admire him for his imaginative, introspective and thought-provoking lyrics that he helps providing the band with. Masterplan, I do tell you my good friend, is not a band with just another high-pitched vocalist, this is practically a one-of-a-kind vocalist. Sadly, it's a pity that he left the band 3 years later due to musical differences (Jorn leans more to the melodic, hard-rock direction while the duo leans more to the heavier sound), much to their fans' disappointment. Oh well... Those were quite sweet times while they lasted, and I am certain they haven't seen the last of each other yet...

Though those three members stand out the most in their debut album, creatively and musically, both the ex-Iron Savior bassist Jan Sören Eckert and the Children of Bodom-keyboardist Janne Warmen (or was it Warman?) deserve some credits as well. Janne only lasted temporarily as a session member due to his commitment to CoB, but he left some decent marks in Masterplan's sound with some pianic pieces (Soulburn) and atmospheric layers (especially in Into The Light, Crawling From Hell and Bleeding Eyes). The member position he left was soon filled in by Axel Mackenrott, who is also a decent keyboard player despite that his musical career just began to gain momentum. Jan S. Eckert is... well, in my opinion, he just fills the bass lines where it's needed. Nevertheless, the sound is well audible and I thought it helped kick up the heat of the songs, especially in Crystal Night and Crawling From Hell.

In short, Masterplan is one of the few bands that you'll find some difficulty not to like, if you're at least something of a metal fan. Their debut album stands well out thanks to its accessible and hooky melodies and at the same time leaves you wanting for more... And the following albums won't disappoint either, the band members have proved their consistency in their well-inspired songwriting. And if you're just like me, you'll probably begin to learn the significance of how progressive elements, if only a few, helps the band to stick out from other bands of the same genre. (Though not a prog-metal band, Masterplan is commonly known as a power metal band, with some prog-related inspirations)

Personal album highlights: Almost every song are worthy highlights, but honorable mentions go to Spirit Never Die, Soulburn, Into The Light and Bleeding Eyes.

Kustin | 4/5 |


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