Released by: AFM Records
Release Date: January 19th, 2024
Genre: Melodic Power Metal
Jørn Lande – vocals
Roland Grapow – guitar, bass, keyboards arrangement and program
Uli Kusch – drums, keyboards arrangement and program
01 Spirit Never Die
02 Enlighten Me
03 Kind Hearted Light
04 Crystal Night
07 Sail On
08 Into The Light
09 Crawling From Hell
10 Bleeding Eyes
11 When Love Comes Close
12 The Kid Rocks On (Bonus Track)
13 Through Thick & Thin (Bonus Track)
14 Black Dog (Bonus Track)
01 Live in Gothenburg 2003 52:23
02 Masterplan Off Stage 47:42
In my modest opinion, Masterplan’s eponymous debut in 2003 ranks among the finest Power Metal albums ever and remains one of my top picks, often revisited over time. Following his departure from Helloween in 2001 due to artistic differences and internal conflicts, guitarist Roland Grapow, together with drummer Uli Kusch, founded the band Masterplan. Grapow’s exit brought about a significant shift in Helloween’s lineup, a renowned German power metal group renowned for shaping the genre. After leaving Helloween, Grapow committed himself to shaping Masterplan’s distinctive sound and musical direction.
The album is currently being reissued as a CD/DVD Anniversary Edition, and I anticipate a potential release of the album on vinyl in the future. The blend of melody and heaviness on this record distinguished it from its contemporaries. Roland’s fervent creativity post-Helloween, coupled with powerhouse vocalist Jorn Lande, also known as The Norse God, resulted in a stellar debut. While the rapid tempo shifts echo elements of later Helloween, it’s the drumming, with Uli Kusch delivering standout power metal double kick drumming, that truly shines. However, it is important to clarify that this was not just another Helloween imitation, not by any means.
Lande’s vocal performance on the album, reminiscent of a fusion between David Coverdale and Ronnie James Dio, is exceptional, with each track flawlessly executed. My admiration for Jorn started with his work in the Ark project, preceding his tenure in the band Millenium and later through his solo projects. He was the perfect addition to handle this style of music. The range this man can reach with his voice is simply awe-inspiring.
The album commences with the masterpiece “The Spirit Never Dies,” which seamlessly navigates through various tempos, leaving an indelible impression. Roland’s signature sharp solos, combined with the melodic keys and Jorn Lande’s vocals, create an electrifying introduction to the album’s overall tone. The momentum remains unyielding throughout the record. The notably melodic “Enlighten Me” is a standout within the genre. The inclusion of Michael Kiske’s vocals on “Heroes” adds a delightful touch to the album with its captivating choruses. The gripping lyrics of “Crystal Night,” with Lande lamenting, “Evil Surrounds Us, We’ve Lost Our Way,” are a testament to its classic appeal. The groove on this track is nothing short of remarkable.
Each track on this record is exceptional, making it difficult to single out just one. Nonetheless, “Crawling From Hell” truly ignites, with Jorn Lande’s passionate and soaring vocals reaching new heights. The CD also includes bonus tracks such as “Through Thick and Thin,” “The Kid Rocks On,” and a rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.”
The DVD features a live performance from Gothenburg in 2003. Despite the show’s lack of HD quality, the sheer energy of the band in that intimate venue is palpable. Their live performance was nothing short of spectacular. The live sound amplifies their prowess, and anyone fortunate enough to witness them alongside Lande can consider themselves extremely lucky. While the set may be relatively brief, it serves as further evidence of the band’s exceptional prowess. This Anniversary Edition is a valuable addition to their discography. Though two decades may have passed, I sincerely hope that metal enthusiasts do not overlook this album, as it holds a special place for me and countless others who appreciate the Power Metal genre.
Reviewed by: Shadow Editor