|Masterplan MKII||AFM Records|
Masterplan may have moved on without vocalist Jorn Lande, but they haven't moved on from the winning formula that delivered two exceptionally good melodic metal albums.|
The German outfit was faced with a huge dilemma when their charismatic and popular frontman departed, but faced it head on.
Their decision to recruit American Mike DiMeo (Riot, The Lizards) was a gamble, but coming off one of Riot's best received albums in years, the momentum was with the new singer.
Masterplan's faith in DiMeo has been justified with a truly great performance here, allowing the band to continue their musical journey without having to make any radical changes to direction or basic band philosophy.
Jorn Lande is one of metal's great vocalists, so naturally there are times within this record where you miss Jorn a little or ponder what might have been with him singing, but Mike really does a terrific job with the material.
Speaking of the material – I don't think this album is as consistent or as high a quality as the absolutely classic Aeronautics record. That was always going to be a tough record to top – even without losing Jorn.
I do think that this record does deliver another selection of strong melodic metal tunes, but perhaps not a full album of classics this time around.
The band keeps the same sound, style and approach of the first two albums – the sonic onslaught of dual lead guitars and an ear splitting rhythm section is relentless.
I do love the sound – the production is once again immaculate – but I do feel that something Jorn brought to the band is missing here. That is his natural ability to apply some breathing space between the onslaught that is the album's furious tempo.
Track By Track:
After the obligatory mood creating building intro, MKII is underway in traditional Masterplan style - double kick drums, furious riffing and a faster than hell pace.
Mike DiMeo makes his mark immediately with a strong vocal – perhaps not the presence here of Jorn, but solid. Warriors Cry is a seriously heavy song – sonically intense to the point of bursting ear drums! The song gets better and better as you get to know it and kicks the album off to a monster start.
Lost And Gone is the first single from the album and is more restrained from the bombastic opener. Solid riffing and an enjoyable song with a good chorus, but again, not quite the quality of the band's last album Aeronautics.
Keeps Me Burning is for me the first classic from the new line up. This is what Masterplan are all about for me and I love this track and what Mike brings to it with his vocal hook. A huge guitar sound and a perfect production offers melodies from the first riff through the laid back verse to a monster chorus which sees Mike deliver one of his soaring vocal melodies. I love everything about this song. It just isn't long enough!
Take Me Over is another sonically intense track and trademark Masterplan sound.
The chorus isn't instant nor is it overly anthemic, but it works well within the power of the song.
I'm Gonna Win is a mid-tempo track, but still filled with intense and heavy riffing and another good chorus – matched by an equally strong verse. Not as immediate or brilliant a chorus but enjoyable nevertheless.
Likewise with Watching The World and Call The Gipsy and even the album as a whole. Good strong songs that put most of the competition to shame, but compared with the band's first two albums, I think they haven't quite matched their own brilliance.
Trust In You is the only ballad of the album as such, but even then, it is super heavy. I like the song, even without a big chorus. Mike delivers a heartfelt and passionate vocal.
Naming a song after themselves tins time around, Masterplan heads back into double time riffing and furious kick drums, plus the most aggressive in your face chorus break of the whole album. A truly intense metal moment!
Enemy has a solid hook and I like the way the song morphs into something a little different towards the end.
Heart Of Darkness closes the third Masterplan album in pretty good style. Another fine, intense rocker and another fine lead vocal, but once again, missing is the chorus hooks that Jorn seemed able to manage.
I think overall the record is missing two or three classic songs and some better choruses, but that is comparing this album to what we now expect after two great initial releases.
include("f-review.p3"); retrieve("mplan-m2",0,1); ?>