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MASTERPLAN – Masterplan

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MASTERPLAN – Masterplan

(Power Metal)

Label: AFM Records
Format: (LP) (Re-Release)

Release: 2003 | 10.11.2023

It was a big announcement when the two ex-HELLOWEEN musicians Roland Grapow (guitar) and Uli Kusch (drums) founded a new project with MASTERPLAN in 2001. The line-up was completed by bassist Jan S. Eckert (IRON SAVIOR), Axel Mackenrott, who also played the keys live at GAMMA RAY at the time, and the Norwegian Jørn Lande, who was previously less known in the metal sector.

The result is nothing less than one of the most groundbreaking Power Metal works in our history. The self-titled debut was released in 2003 and was never to be achieved again for various reasons. After Jørn, Mike DiMeo (ex-RIOT) came for an album, Lande came back, left the band again after “Time To Be King” and since then Rick Altzi has been the frontman of MASTERPLAN, so far only singing on one regular studio album and HELLOWEEN -Compilation “PumpKings”. In between, Kusch also left and was replaced by Mike Terrana for a few years. Today Kevin Kott (AT VANCE) is at the drums and Jari Kainulainen (Ex-STRATOVARIUS) is on bass.

So much for the history of MASTERPLAN. But now to the self-titled debut, because it is now celebrating 20 years and is being released in an anniversary edition including bonus songs and the “Live In Gothenburg” DVD. But more on that later.

The album actually only consisted of highlights. “Spirits Never Die” is a fast banger with dark but also happy keys and Jørn’s incredible vocal power. I have to admit that I never liked him as much as I did on this record, because Grapow and Co. simply gave him the space and enough varied material for it. The album is also profound, as shown by the anti-Nazi anthem “Crystal Night” or the skin-deep “Bleeding Eyes,” which also shines with oriental rhythms.

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The catchy “Kind Hearted Light”, in which Janne Wirman (ex-CHILDREN OF BODOM), who once helped out in the studio, shines on the keys, as well as the outrageously catchy “Heroes” were already instant hits. There is a legendary duet here with none other than Michael Kiske (ex-HELLOWEEN), who was leaving the metal business at this point, but was briefly forced back by Toby Sammet and his AVANTASIA project. As we all know (power metal), the rest is history.

“Crawling From Hell” appears really heavy and even darker with brilliant riffs and nasty vocals, “Soulburn” combines AOR melodies with equally powerful riffs and vocal lines and the driving “Sail On” skilfully conveys a mood of optimism and is charging, like most of the other tracks to sing along. The finale was the touching “When Love Comes Close”, in which Land pulls another ace out of his sleeve and puts his stamp on this semi-acoustic ballad.

The new version continues with “The Kid Rocks On”, a rockier number, the leisurely “Through Thick And Thin” and the LED ZEPPELIN cover “Black Dog”. All of them are cool songs, but they don’t come close to the album material, they don’t seem as sophisticated and therefore rightly they weren’t included on the record back then, but they act as a nice bonus today.

If you can’t get enough of the original line-up and this masterpiece, you now have another wonderful hour with MASTERPLAN available with “Live In Gothenburg”.
An intense, well-filmed concert that also features strong sound and wonderfully showcases the beginnings of this extraordinary band.

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We can only hope that Roland Grapow and his MASTERPLAN will finally reach new heights again or at least announce a new work, since the last work was ten years ago. But since they’re going on a big tour with FIREWIND next year, fans can definitely hope.

Tracklist „Masterplan“:

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
12. The Kid Rocks On
13. Through Thick And Thin
14. Black Dog (LED ZEPPELIN)
Live In Gothenburg
Total playing time: 62:00+ 50:22


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