Masterplan - Time to be king 4/5

Reviewed: 6-1-10





Tracklist:

1. Fiddle of time
2. Blow your winds
3. Far from the end of the world
4. Time to be king
5. Lonely winds of war
6. The dark road
7. The sun is in your hands
8. The black one
9. Blue europa
10. Under the moon


Masterplan fans around the world rejoice, for the prodigal son himself has returned to the flock. That’s right, I speak of talented journeyman vocalist Jorn Lande and his return to the band since leaving in 2006. Not only that, but Masterplan also have a new CD, their 4th, entitled ‘Time to be king’.

No one could forget when Masterplan’s debut release first thundered through our speakers. It was a grand piece of work, forging together melodic metal and power metal with effortless ease. How could it not be anything but short of fantastic when ex-Helloween guitarist Roland Grapow left searing scorchmarks with his axe-playing and Mr. Lande’s soaring vocals piercing the atmosphere with power and emotion. I would compare Masterplan’s debut with the magnitude of greatness that came from the first Demons & Wizards CD a few years earlier. That release too, took us all by surprise.

Let’s fast forward a few years, past the underachieving (but still decent) ‘Aeronautics’ and the very solid ‘MK II’, featuring ex-Riot vocalist Mike DiMeo on vocal duty. Masterplan’s popularity may have slipped a little since their debut and the wash-up of Lande’s departure; but now that he’s back, fans are hoping that a return to glory can be achieved with the latest CD ‘Time to be king’.

There is a mixed bag of tracks to be heard on the new CD, including a few swift-paced tracks while the majority are emotional mid-paced tracks, and lastly a few semi-ballads for equal measure. This time round, however, I’d say the forging between power metal and melodic metal is about 60/40 in melodic metal’s favour. With that being said, the heaviness and melody we’ve come to know and love still remains.

Sounding refreshed and energized, the songwriting on ‘Time to be king’ is far more creative and epic in feel than the previous 2 CDs, which is a definite plus. Without a shred of doubt, Jorn Lande plays a massive and crucial part on the release and his presence alone on this CD is enough itself to be a success. As expected, Lande’s vocals are again brilliant (are they ever not?), with gallons of emotion poured into each and every track. The keyboards (played by Axel Mackenrott) have taken on a larger role on this release than previous, adding further depth, melody and emotion to go along with the solid rhythm section and the leading guitar chords and riffs from Roland Grapow.

The 2 semi-ballads on the CD include “Under the moon” and “The dark road”, and both tracks are exceptional and easily 2 of the best tracks on the CD. The release begins strongly with the speedy opening track “Fiddle of time”. With great use of the keys, the song pounds away in true Masterplan style, with Jorn at the top of his game. A top solo from Grapow seals the track as a winner and a highlight on the CD. The CD continues to chug along with more great songs including the swift title track “Time to be king”, the soaring and melodic “Far from the end of the world”, the emotional and upbeat “The sun is in your hands”, the mid-paced foot-taper “Blow your winds” and the lyrically powerful “Lonely winds of war”.

Masterplan never have had what we would consider a bad release, and ‘Time to be king’ continues that run. With a core sound that has stayed relatively true to the original first CD, this new release retains that core sound, while also moving with the times of melodic metal trends. The end result is a CD that actually has more depth, emotion and charisma than the debut. Whether or not ‘Time to be king’ has surpassed it will come down to personal opinion.

Masterplan have come a long way since its inception as originally just a side project. Created by Roland Grapow and now ex-drummer Uli Kursch when they were a part of Helloween, both members were eventually fired from the band and all of a sudden Masterplan had become a fully fledged metal band. 4 releases later and Masterplan is one of the most popular melodic power metal bands around, mostly due to its “all-star” lineup, which from 2007 now includes the master behind the drum kit, Mike Terrana (Savage Circus, Axel Rudi Pell, Rage).

In short, ‘Time to be king’ is a great melodic/power metal release and I would consider it to be Masterplan’s best effort since their debut CD. The end result is a CD that has all the hallmarks to be a success and with Jorn Lande returning to the band, so should a lot of the fans that may have been waning or just sitting on the fence over the last few years. ‘Time to be king’ is highly recommended to both power metal fans and melodic metal fans alike.

Also worth mentioning is that Jorn Lande has just finished recording a tribute CD to the late and great Ronnie James Dio, simply titled ‘Dio’, and covers songs Ronnie has done over his 35+ year career. The new track which Jorn has written and is the opening track on the CD is called “Song for Ronnie James” and can currently be seen on Youtube.com.



SEAN




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