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   MASTERPLAN
Masterplan
2003
AFM Records
http://www.master-plan.net


rating: 5/5

1. Spirit Never Die
2. Enlighten Me
3. Kind Hearted Light
4. Crystal Night
5. Soulburn
6. Heroes
7. Sail On
8. Into The Light
9. Crawling From Hell
10. Bleeding Eyes
11. When Love Comes Close
So this is it! Masterplan's debut cd. Is it power metal? Yes, I would say so. Is it just another Helloween clone? No, I wouldn't say so. Is it any good? Hell yes!

When Roland Grapow and Uli Kusch left, or rather were made to leave Helloween and announced that they would be working on a new album I was immediately eager to hear the final result. And now I finally have it here in my hands. The first question: does it live up to the expectations? Yes and lots more! So, what did I expect? Based on the songs the duet wrote for the last Helloween album they appeard on, a great combination of both happy and darker sides of power metal and to simplify things, that is exactly what I hear. What was originally planned as a side project featuring Russel Allen on vocals, turned into a real band with Jörn Lande on vocals. This cannot be considered as any kind of loss for Masterplan because no matter what way you look at things, Jörn Lande is one of the best heavy metal vocalists today. Period.

Finally to the music itself. The song material consists of power, energy, speed, great heavy riffs, amazing melodies and Lande's amazing, slightly hoarse and very powerful voice that suits the music perfectly. The three first tunes all simply force you to the journey. They're all wonderful examples on how melodies and heaviness should be combined. The next two are a bit heavier ones but remain catchy as hell and simply grab you by the balls. The obligatory comparison to Helloween walks in once "Heroes" comes twirling out of the speakers. The melody sticks and before you even notice it, you're humming along and the fact that Michael Kiske makes a guest appearance on this one meakes it all the more better. "Sail On" continues in the same vein with it's catchy chorus and "Into The Light" is a slower and lighter one. "Crawling From Hell" is again a fast one while "Bleeding Eyes" has even some oriental elements added to its slow tempo. The last song on this release is a ballad which is akin to 80's hard rock, but with not that much cheese on it.

Ultimately, even if they may not be reinventing the wheel here, their appproach is refreshing and not all that predictable. The keyboards are not too much on the forefront, but rather adding their own touch to the final result and the production is absolutely one of the best I've ever heard. What was the most surprising factor on this one is that it's even more versatile than I dared to expect and therefore it takes more than one listen to get fully into. Highly recommended to all heavy metal fans! "Masterplan's rising and dreams will come true..." What else is there to say?

submitted by Aleksi 01.01.2003

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