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Masterplan - Aeronautics CD (album) cover




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3.22 | 52 ratings

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3 stars Masterplan came about when Uli Kusch and Roland Grapow were kicked out of Helloween. Originally, Masterplan was intended as a side project of several members of Helloween, but after the split, the boys decided to recruit a suitable singer and as fate would have it, they really lucked out when they nabbed premier vocalist Jørn Lande who has been around for some time, fronting bands such as Ark, Yngwie Malmsteen and Beyond Twilight. The band then released a superb self-titled debut album in 2003.

Now, the boys are back with a follow-up, an album I'm happy to report will help keep them at the forefront of the metal scene I'm sure. Just so you know, Uli Kusch (drums) also did some time with Shock Machine, Sinner, Helloween and Gamma Ray. To round out the band they recruited Jan S. Eckert on bass (ex-Iron Savior) and Axel Mackenrott on keyboards. Alex was Gamma Ray's live keyboardist. So, with all this experience behind the band, you'd think they'd learn a thing or two over the years and that they would put out some pretty decent music? You darn right they did, learn a thing or two that is and put that into good use writing and playing some pretty nifty music, cause this album comes with metal so ripe and so sweet to your ears you won't be able to get enough of it.

I didn't think they could possibly improve on their debut album, but IMO, they did! I love the way the songs flow ever smoothly into one another, so very cool. I love Lande's voice, there's NO better voice doing metal right now. As for the music, it is heavy, sometimes very fast and always catchy, perhaps more so than anything I've ever heard before in the power metal realm of things. And I'm not just talking about one song here. Those who thought that Megadeth's The System Has Failed, Edguy's Hellfire Club and Dream Evil's The Book of Heavy Metal included some very palatable metal will find Aeronautics to be an even better metal meal. The solos are not overdone and are always included at the right moments. The keyboards are not overpowering, always filling in when required, adding that atmospheric touch that is often missing on many straight up heavy metal albums of today. Many of the tracks have some very interesting keyboard orchestrations with some great guitar solos. Because of it's overall mainstream appeal, I was afraid I would get easily tired of it, but I've been listening to this album for the past couple of months now, and I don't think I'll be getting tired of it any time soon. If the first album was perhaps slightly more accessible, then it is safe to assume that this album won't be leaving my multi-CD player any time soon.

Aeronautics is also heavier than their debut album, they've beefed things up somewhat, more guitars, more drums, more of everything. The album opens with "Crimson Rider", a song about the legendary fighter pilot "The Red Baron" who died over the skies of France during World War One. Mackenrott's keyboard orchestrations play an important role, Lande/Kusch/Eckert are all in fine form while the huge wall-of-guitar-sound created by Grapow that permeates throughout the song (and the album as well) results in a most unforgettable opening track.

There are no ballads but the album does include some emotional mid-tempo semi-ballad rockers. "Back For My Life" was the first single released in late 2004, "Headbangers Ballroom" and "After This War" are both excellent mid-paced tracks with good heavy metal energy. The awesome vibe created on "Headbangers Ballroom" initially reminded me of "Crystal Night" off their debut album. Great stuff! Also, you get some huge monster metal tracks with the likes of "Wounds" and "I''m Not Afraid." "Wounds" is sure to have many heavy music enthusiasts wetting their pants in metal jubilation, while I wouldn't be surprised to hear "I'm Not Afraid" and "Falling Sparrow" (which appears a little later on the album) on metal radio.

"In the Arena" is an energetic track, very powerful, Kusch really pounds on his drums, very heavy from the get go. I love many of Eckert's bass licks throughout the album, I think he is one of the most underrated bass players in metal right now. This album should help change all of that. "Dark From The Dying" is very heavy, very juicy, and just like a thick steak, you have to take your time to absorb it's flavor, to savor it and digest it slowly.

My FAV track is the album closer "Black In The Burn." It is a lengthy track that incorporates some progressive elements. It starts slow and builds to a huge sound so very slowly. When the pace finally picks up it turns into a fast power metal ride. During the mid-section the song slows down several times with nothing but piano before we are treated to a few very interesting musical moments in which the entire band let it rip. I can't end my review without underlining Uli Kusch inspired and varied drum work throughout the album. He absolutely rules here, driving the songs forward with a vigour I had not heard from him before. Outstanding performance, not just by Kusch but by the entire band. This is the kind of metal, pure and hard driving, that sells albums. Consider that Lande has one-of-the-best voices in metal today and you've got an explosive mix indeed...

The music of Masterplan is similar in a way to: Kamelot, Nocturnal Rites, Dream Evil, Edguy, Megadeth, Primal Fear, Stratovarius and Helloween.

Aeronautics is an excellent power metal album, though not necessarily essential material if you're looking to add it to your progressive music collection.

Vanwarp | 3/5 |


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