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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


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

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