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Masterplan
MKII
April 2007
Released: 2007, AFM Records/Sound Pollution
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall

The EP released earlier this year by Masterplan didn’t reveal much about what we should expect from the partly-new Masterplan. The band has moved from being a heavy metal act towards being more of a melodic heavy metal band heavily influenced by keyboards. The entire album has a much more melodic approach when compared to the previous ones with Jorn Lande on vocals.

As many of you know, Masterplan has had some line-up changes; the new singer is Mike DiMeo and the new drummer is the former Rage member Mike Terrana. DiMeo is a really good singer, but I think he’s taken on a little too much in replacing Lande. He doesn’t manage to fill Lande’s shoes and the music has lost a great deal of its former impact with Lande’s departure. However, DiMeo should get credit for trying to bring his own style into Masterplan’s sound.

DiMeo can’t be blamed for the low-quality material that habitants this album, either. While the band used to deliver high-class performances on previous albums, they now give us more of a tired, dry, standard melodic heavy metal album. However, there are a few songs that stand out on MK II, like “Warrior Cry”, “Watching the World”, and “Masterplan”. The band just like they ought to in these songs: technical heavy metal with fast guitar parts and heavy, pounding drums. A few of the more melodic tracks that are OK are the tracks featured on the EP called “Lost and Gone” and “Keeps Me Burning”, but “Call the Gipsy”, “Take Me Over”, and “I’m Gonna Win” are also pretty good.

MK II was recorded in Roland Grapow’s own studio and the mixing and mastering was done in Helsinki at Finnvox Studio by Mikko Karmila and Mika Jussila. Grapow must have gone deaf because the production sounds nothing like what we’ve been spoiled with in the past. It’s thin, static, and really pale; the only thing that sounds alright is the lead vocals. All the other instruments have gained a lot by being placed higher and louder in the mix.

I think MK II is going to divide the band’s fans in two camps: those who love the new singer and the songs, and those who hate it all. Unfortunately, I lean more towards the latter category; I don’t hate the album, but I can’t say that I’m overjoyed by the new Masterplan sound. It leaves a lot to wish for and I really hope that Grapow and company can do better next time, otherwise I think my devotion to the band will end.
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

Lineup

Mike DiMeo – lead vocals
Roland Grapow – guitar
Jan S. Eckert – bass
Axel Mackenrott – keyboards
Mike Terrana – drums


Next review: » Masterplan - MKII
Previous review: » Masterplan - Lost and Gone - EP

Masterplan
MKII
July 2007
Released: 2007, AFM Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Waspman

Nothing ever seems to come easy for Roland Grapow. His lengthy stint in Helloween ended unceremoniously when he and Uli Kusch were sacked, despite their input resulting in that band’s strongest album in years, THE DARK RIDE. After forming Masterplan with Kusch and vocalist extraordinaire Jorn Lande, the band experienced immediate success, but the second album (AERONAUTICS) seemingly wasn’t as well received. Then, further indignity: Lande and Kusch both jump ship, leaving Grapow without two essential pieces of his band.

Obviously, Grapow wasn’t going to take that sitting down, and quickly lured away Rage’s drum monster Mike Terrana and ex-Riot throat Mike DiMeo to fill the voids. Now, Masterplan is back, with the appropriately titled MKII.

What can fans expect from the newly re-tooled Masterplan? Well, more of the same really. MKII is filled to the brim with the catchy, pop-inflected power metal that the band is known for, main change being the new man at the mic. I’ve seen some reviews taking shots at DiMeo, but I for one have always enjoyed his vocals in Riot and, while Jorn is perhaps a more dynamic vocalist, DiMeo ably takes command. As for Terrana’s work behind the kit? Well, he’s his usual sturdy self but compared with Rage, he’s somewhat subdued here, probably due to the nature of Masterplan’s music.

Basically, fans of the first two albums can safely purchase MKII blindly, as it instantly welcomes listeners with safe, sing-along power metal, moody closer “Heart of Darkness” aside. That may sound like a backhanded compliment, but I mean it when I say that MKII is an immensely enjoyable album. It’s just not particularly stand out or innovative.

I’m tempted to go ahead and give this album 4/5, but I’m already getting somewhat tired of it. Still, the highs (“Warrior’s Cry”, “Lost and Gone”, “Enemy”, “Heart of Darkness”) are high enough to keep you going through the “low” (i.e.: kinda dull) middle portion of the disc. Here’s hoping that the new lineup stays stable enough to put out a few more quality albums.
Track Listing

1) Phoenix Rising
2) Warrior’s 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 Gypsy
9) Trust In You
10) Masterplan
11) Enemy
12) Heart of Darkness

Lineup

Roland Grapow: Guitar
Mike DiMeo: Vocals
Jan-Soren Eckert: Bass
Axel Mackenrott: Keyboards
Mike Terrana: Drums


Next review: » Masterplan - Novum Initium
Previous review: » Masterplan - Lost and Gone - EP





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