Change happens. When Jorn Lande jumped the Masterplan ship back in 2008, Masterplan's next album was called MKII (like Deep Purple MKII) with Mike DiMeo (Riot). Lande returned for Time to Be King but, once again, has bailed on the band. Enter new singer Rick Altzi (At Vance) for their fifth album Novum Initium, Latin for 'a new beginning.' Other newcomers are Martin Marthus Skaroupka (Cradle of Filth) on drums and Jari Kainulainen (Stratovarius, Evergrey) on bass.
What hasn't changed is founder and guitarist Roland Grapow keeping Masterplan on the melodic power metal course. That's good thing as Novum Initium is a very strong album of the same.
Yet, I'll admit I had my reservations upon discovering Altzi was their new vocalist. His work with At Vance was/is good. (Is he still with them?) But he recently appeared on Magnus Karlsson's Freefall album as a guest singer and basically trashed Not My Savior with his gravel throated screaming. Would I find the same her was my reservation. Thankfully, no. For the most part, Altzi fits the Jorn/Masterplan sound with his raspy delivery, possibly with a bit more range. I apologize to all Masterplan fans who can see only Lande behind the microphone.
But the strength of this album is likely the music within. This is hefty Teutonic power metal, tempered by melody and enough symphonic and atmospheric keyboards and powered by Grapow always sizzling solos. Rather strict power metal comes with The Game, No Escape, and Return From Avalon, by example. But that last song also points to how effortlessly Masterplan blends metal with accessibility, melody, and rock groove. You catch it also Betrayal, Earth Is Going Down, and the suspiciously chunky, Keep Your Dream Alive (video below). Masterplan pulls out all the stops on the title cut, the longest track, with a venture into more progressive power metal; it's heavy, yet melodic with shifting movements to keep you attentive. The album also offers two 'exclusive' bonus tracks, more melodic metal, allowing this work to round out a nearly an hour. More bang for your buck, or Euro or pound; you gotta love that. Masterplan's Novum Initium is easily recommended.
Masterplan's Novum Initium offers a new singer, Rick Altzi, among other personnel changes, but of most importance, more very fine German melodic power metal. Masterplan is back.
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