A lot happened in the MASTERPLAN camp since the release of their second album “Aeronautics”. Both singer Jørn Lande and drummer Uli Kusch left the band, being replaced with RIOT fronter Mike DiMeo and drum mercenary Mike Terrana completing the line-up of former HELLOWEEN guitarist Roland Grapow, ex IRON SAVIOR bassist Jan Sören Eckert and keyboarder Axel Mackenrott (interestingly enough also part of Uli Kusch’s BEAUTIFUL SIN). Most people will agree that Lande is an exceptional vocal talent and it is always difficult to follow in footsteps such as this, but with DiMeo the band managed to enlist the services of a seasoned veteran in Metal, who also possesses a characteristic set of pipes and manages to prove this on the aptly titled “MK II” album.
Other than the obvious difference in voice between Lande and DiMeo the band has stayed pretty close to its original sound, standing somewhere between Melodic and Power Metal, but with substance, as one would expect from such seasoned veterans. After the bombastic intro “Phoenix Rising” “Warrior’s Cry” takes off with thundering double-bass, great melodies and DiMeo’s trademark voice, a great kick off, followed by the second branch MASTERPLAN are residing on, some great Melodic Metal, super catchy, with some piano, in form of “Lost And Gone”, if after these two songs you don’t like what you heard, the rest will not win you over.
As huge Power Metal fan I personally enjoy MASTERPLAN most, when they step on the pedal, as on the more powerful “Take Me Over”, “Watching The World” or the intense band hymn “Masterplan”, but the intensive mid-tempo of “Call The Gypsy” or the powerful semi-ballad “Trust In You” score points as well as the galloping “Enemy” and the epic widescreen track “Heart Of Darkness” at the end. Everything packed into a powerful and clear production, another element in tradition of the previous two releases, giving the songs room to breathe and enough power to pack a nice punch.
Thankfully the turmoil in the line-up did not reflect into the song writing of “MK II” at all, as this is high quality Metal with melody, power and variety, if you count Melodic and Power Metal among your favourite weapons, this is a shiny new addition to the armory!
(Online April 19, 2007)