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Masterplan - Masterplan CD (album) cover




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3.77 | 57 ratings

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3 stars Whenever seasoned musicians get together to form what many might consider "a super group," the results can be huge and sometimes the ensuing album is merely nothing more than a first-rate effort. Nevertheless, the news of a collaboration usually always generates a lot of attention and fan expectations are always high. Masterplan definitely qualify as a super group and their debut album is simply awesome. I had to get that off my chest as quickly as possible. But is this really progressive metal? That is a good question...

Masterplan have no doubt successfully melded two metal sub-genres together, and they are heavy metal and power metal.

Masterplan, along with similar bands Edguy, Falconer and Dream Evil all display an energy and vitality that clearly separates them from the plethora of utterly stagnant power metal bands on the market right now. Vocalist Jorn Lande's smooth controlled delivery stays in his natural range and we are treated here with a most powerful performance. His voice is instantly recognizable and his style reminded me of Ronnie James Dio of Black Sabbath/Rainbow fame and also of David Coverdale of Whitesnake fame. As far as Masterplan's music is concerned, their debut album contains some of the most infectious melodies and memorable hooks you'll ever hear. What makes their music even more interesting is the added gothic elements included on several tracks. From the high energy and huge sound productions of the opening track which starts everything off perfectly to the final 80's style power ballad which was updated with symphonic strings - and lets not forget everything in between - the album is a thoroughly mesmerizing experience.

What more to expect from this album?

Nothing but great heavy/power metal songs! I can't repeat this enough. Essentially, what you get is a good mix of fast and mid-tempo tracks with a few ballads thrown in for good measure. Also, no warriors and dragons, no kings and wars. Just as the cover depicts natural destruction, whether by fire, tidal wave, tornado or earthquake, so do the album's themes.

"Spirit Never Die" starts with a symphonic intro and builds with the full band in tow. This song has it all, fast double kick tempo's, slow atmospheric passages, wonderful guitar solo, simply a solid opening track.

"Enlighten Me" is the album's first single. The gothic atmospheric feel of this song initially reminded me of Entwine, but the chorus is what makes this song the most accessible radio friendly song on the album.

"Kind Hearted Light" is a killer track. The keyboard intro and heavy up-tempo beat moves everything along superbly. Stratovarius comes to mind but Masterplan's performance is majestic, one of the highlight's on this album.

"Crystal Night" starts as a mid-tempo rocker. Great pounding beat, best chorus yet, wonderful track. I love the mid section break and solo...and the strong ending, wow! Another highlight and after more than a year, it ranks as my FAV overall track. The slower paced "Soulburn" starts with a piano and some heavy pounding beats. The symphonic/gothic feel of this song brings a touch of originality, very different approach than what we find on the opening track.

"Heroes" is or should be another hit single. This is typical Helloween or Stratovarius but like I said before, the high energy performance makes this track standout. Of interest here is that Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween vocalist) makes a guest appearance on this one.

"Sail on" continues where "Heroes" left off. The drum intro is very cool, very fast tempo, great melody, strong chorus. The track ends acoustically, adding further creativity to the album. At this point, only 7 songs into the album and one comes to the conclusion that this is a very good disc, all excellent tracks from the very beginning. Even I wondered what more could this album possibly have to offer?

The acoustic ballad "Into the Light" with it's heavier sounding chorus is a refreshing change of pace. Strong vocal performance by Lande.

"Crawling From Hell" picks up the pace again. More slow gothic atmospheric elements in the beginning and during the chorus mixed with a fast tempo and heavy rock beat in the verses. The music break and solo are definite highlight's on the album.

"Bleeding Eyes" slow symphonic opening and Lande's whining vocal intro are very cool. Much more gothic atmospheric feel than most other tracks and I consider this song to be of the pure Gothic metal genre. Love the psychedelic feel of the guitar solo, excellent work!

The album closes with the ballad "When Love Comes Close." The relaxed acoustic guitar opening is very unwinding and when the band kick it in, the song fills in beautifully, this track could easily be another single release. The acoustic guitar break and solo and then back to the final acoustic ending is what closes Masterplan's brilliant debut album.

Repeated listens of this album is highly recommended...If you know of a better album in this particular style and genre, please let me know! As for it being classified as a progressive album, I'm not so sure the reasons why, but it surely is worth adding to your heavy/power metal collection but certainly not essential material for a strictly progressive metal standpoint.

Vanwarp | 3/5 |


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