posted on 11/2005 By:
Most people would agree, Germans can be a strange lot. They don’t keep too many things hidden away behind closed doors, and it seems rare for them to sweep things under the carpet, so to speak. Instead, they opt to embrace, and make public, oddities that folks in the U.S. (and other countries) might find embarrassing or cheesy. For example, you can still find people in Germany wearing acid washed jeans with bandanas tied around their knees. I know it’s a bit strange, and perhaps a bit scary, but they truly seem to embrace their eccentricities. The same applies to their musical tastes. Genres that seem to flounder or fade in many countries, thrive with our German friends. What does this have to do with my review of Masterplan’s latest album? Well, Aeronautics is pretty cheesy. German cheesy. Not bad, mind you, just cheesy.
This all starts to make sense when one discovers Helloween champions, Uli Kusch (drums) and Roland Grapow (guitars), founded Masterplan. And it certainly shows. Aeronautics sounds very much like a Helloween hard rock side project, thanks primarily to the unmistakable guitar work of Grapow. Also featured on the band’s roster is the much-acclaimed vocal talent of Jorn Lande (Ark, and Mundanus Imperium). Jorn’s vocal styling is mid-ranged, strong, confident, and akin to a mixture between David Coverdale and Tony Martin. Throw in a decent bassist and (corny) keyboard player, and you’re ready to throw fists in the air with all the raging Krauts across the globe.
As far as the music’s concerned, Aeronautics hits about half the time. The first track sets the stage well enough. “Crimson Rider” has a good fist-banging pace that’s sure to be a serious crowd pleaser for those who ever get an opportunity to see Masterplan live. Unfortunately, things fall a bit south from there. “Back for My Life” and “After This War” are just a bit too reminiscent of perv’s of yore, Whitesnake, including the trademark ridiculous lyrics: “spilling coffee on my shoe, I shiver ‘cause of you, my heart turns black & blue”. Ugh. Track three, “Wounds”, is far too jolly a romp as far as I’m concerned, and track four, “I’m Not Afraid”, sets the listener up for what seems likely to be an epic piece, only to fall into some sort of Foreigner-esque flatulence after about a minute into the song. To be honest, things really don’t jump back on track for me until I hit number seven. “Into The Arena” is exactly what I’d hoped Mastermind would be, exultant, powerful, and catchy as hell. The last three cuts strike true as well, finishing the album quite nicely. Closer, “Back in The Burn”, is a solid nine-minute epic/prog piece that’ll leave you wondering if you should spin the cd again to see if you missed something (and believe me, you will). Interestingly enough, I eventually discovered that even when Masterplan are at their worst, they still manage to write really catchy tunes that have a way of growing into your brain.
Masterplan’s Aeronautics is definitely the type of album I’ll revisit from time to time, but it’ll likely be in the privacy of my headphones or alone in my car. I would recommend fans of the genre to check it out, but non-enthusiasts should probably steer clear.
Review Update 12/22/05:
Ok, find me the biggest bloody crow on the planet, and I'll eat that bitch raw & choke on it. I really love this album now. It's insanely catchy.
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