Masterplan, "MKII"

Led by Roland Grapow, Germany's Masterplan is sporting a new vocalist on the second album, having parted ways with Jorn Lande. Now stepping up to the mic is Mike DeMeo (from Riot) who adds his smooth delivery and soaring melodic sense to the blueprint of slightly progressive power metal. Mike is a solid vocalist who always delivered the goods with Riot and sounds quite at home fronting Masterplan.

We're talking power metal here, so if that puts you off, don't move to Europe. Apparently the Euro's have an insatiable appetite for this stuff because while it's merely a niche market stateside, it's huge across the Atlantic. You can expect the usual suspects... big chorus parts, abundant (and occasionally tasteful) keyboard swashes, clickty-clack drums, and guitars... lots of guitars. The compositions are upbeat, even cheerful. "I'm Gonna Win" should be some politician's theme song. Expect the usual mix of styles here; you've got your burners ("Warrior's Song" and "Masterplan") reminiscent of Helloween, your mid-tempo boomers ("Keeps Me Burning", "Lost and Gone") and then of course the ballads ("Watching the World", "Trust In You"). Guys, you can try to call them atmospheric/conceptual all you want... it's still a ballad.

Solid and efficient, I'd say Masterplan exemplifies a certain aspect of Teutonic metal. While there's nothing on the album that would suddenly convert the trve kvlt masses to the banner of power metal, for those who already rally around that flag it's a suitable reminder of why they like it. Thankfully, the lyrics stay away from the swords and trolls storylines and keep to more generic (but uplifting!) themes. Grapow's guitar playing has to get a bump here as well... he is fluid and consistent, the solos are melodic and fit the songs. Good stuff all around here, but it's like riding in a safe, precise (but comfortable) BMW... perhaps a bit too clean and safe for its own good. I would have preferred just a tad bit more grit and danger.

Standout Tracks

   Warrior's Cry