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Novum Initium
July 2013
Released: 2013, AFM Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Erich

Band personnel changes are pretty common. Sometimes, the split gives fans the best of both worlds as the departing members form outstanding bands in their own right. Masterplan is such a band, formed when Helloween guitarist Roland Grapow(who as we know replaced departed Kai Hansen) and Uli Kusch were fired from Helloween after forming Masterplan as a side project. Along the way, Masterplan has endured its own personnel issues, with the departure of Uli Kusch and singer Jorn Lande leaving to form his own band. Enter Rick Altzi, who handles vocal duties on NOVUM INITIUM and meshes well with the band’s unmistakable move towards more mid-paced and melodic music, skirting the border of power metal and hard rock.

After a traditional brief instrumental intro, the second tune “The Game” sets the mood of the album with a more up tempo pace and crushing guitar tone, which is present through the album. The songs is also designed to immediately introduce Altzi and showcase his talents, capable of hitting the high screams when called for, but comfortably settling into a more mid-range style as well. New drummer Martin Škaroupka (former Cradle Of Filth), drives the tune admirably with double bass precision. His stamp is on all the songs, as the percussions are one of the high points of the album. “Black Magic Night” features a keyboard-laden intro that recalls more traditional power metal before transitioning into what becomes an AOR tune. “Betrayal” includes a sitar for the intro, and a fiery solo from Grapow. Grapow handles all production duties, capturing the band in clear balance, particularly the power and majesty of the guitars. The album ending title track clocks in at over 10 minutes, but might be the best tune on the album in terms of getting the complete essence of the band.

NOVUM INITIUM is a great album, with only a couple of drawbacks. This is a style and sound that is being played by tons of bands now, so there is nothing unique or inventive on the album. Overall, it sounds like a cross between Axel Rudi Pell, Fullforce, Gamma Ray, Edguy and …well lots of others. There are also a few bland and generic songs on the album that rob it of some of its consistency and power. The power metal is also less overt, the mid-paced melodic rock winning through on most of the album. The songs are top notch though, and the musicianship nearly flawless. Fans that are on the fence because of no Jorn should be pleased to hear that Altzi is up to the task of filling his shoes. Overall this is a solid release and one of Masterplan’s better efforts. Fans of all the previous mentioned bands will enjoy the new Masterplan.
Track Listing

01. Per Aspera Ad Astra

02. The Game

03. Keep Your Dream Alive

04. Black Night Of Magic

05. Betrayal

06. No Escape

07. Pray On My Soul

08. Earth Is Going Down

09. Return From Avalon

10. Through Your Eyes

11. Novum Initium


Rick Altzi - vocals
Roland Grapow - guitar
Jari Kainulainen - bass
Axel Mackenrott - keyboards
Martin Škaroupka- drums

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