posted on 4/2007 By:
The metal world has definitely seen its share of exalted vocalists stepping down from well-known bands over the years. In many cases the transitions have been favorable: Halford to Ripper, Wayne to Howe, and Lanquist to Marcolin, et al. But metalheads have been subjected to their share of fosbury flops from time to time as well: the fumbled Dickinson to Bayley handoff, or the Walkyier to Desmond Sabbat stumble are two that immediately come to mind. In the end, I suppose the issue is this: no matter how well a band plays, or how fantastically their music’s written, nothing drops a band-aide into the cake batter faster than a vocalist who doesn’t measure up to his surroundings.
With this in mind, it’s really not all that surprising to find that fans of Germany’s Masterplan collectively gasped following last year’s announcement of the departure of hard rock/power metal vocalist extraordinaire, Jørn Lande, and I certainly counted myself amongst the gasp-ee’s. After all, the band’s first two endeavors were partly responsible for getting me back into the more blithe end of the Euro-power metal spectrum, and Jørn’s vocals were undoubtedly a key element. Once I’d heard the reasoning behind Jørn’s flight, however (he favoring a lighter route - the band wanting heavier), I was pretty comfortable with the fairly amicable split. And after a relatively short stint searching, the boys have found his replacement with one-time, long-time Riot vocalist, Mike Dimeo. The question is, does MKII find our Deutsche freunde falling under the favorable side of the vocal-transition coin? Or would fans find another proverbial hair in an otherwise savory lookin’ bowl of soup? Well, thankfully for Mike Dimeo and company, he HAS no hair, so today’s special is sans strands and definitely savory enough for fans of Masterplan to gobble up.
Above all else, MKII is easily the most consistent record the band has made to date. The slight goofiness of tunes like “Headbanger’s Ballroom” have been shaved in favor of twelve more austere cuts that bend and turn from high-octane power metal anthems to slower, hard-rockier numbers, with the occasional über üp-lifting ditty thrown in the mix as well. The record isn’t as immediately contagious as Aeronautics, but there’s honestly not a stinker amongst the twelve – start to finish. And I truly believe that once given the chance to absorb, fans will find Mike Dimeo’s voice to be an excellent and suitable replacement for Lande. He has a similar, mid-ranged, smooth delivery that’s infused with quite a soulful essence, and his scream is thankfully devoid of ill-fitting falsetto warbling. And for those left wondering whether the band was serious about their claims for wanting a heavier, more aggressive sound, you need look no further than ballsy tunes such as opener, “Warriors Cry”, the immensely catchy, “Enemy”, and especially the excellent title track, which will undoubtedly serve as an monstrous closer for forthcoming live shows. And speaking of live shows, Grapow and company have once again proven themselves to be extremely adept at crafting tunes that sound as if they’ll transfer seamlessly into serious crowd pleasers in a live setting. Not just the more aggressive songs, but also the more inspirited numbers such as “Keeps Me Burning”, and especially the keyboard driven, “I’m Gonna Win”, which are certain to have the crowd jumping up and down and singing in unison.
Similar to the first two Masterplan releases, MKII took a number of spins before my brain was fully able to switch into Euro-power metal gear, but once it did, the disc didn’t leave my player for two weeks. For fans of the genre still on the fence because of the change in players*, I ask you to shelve your doubts and give this fine album your attention. MKII is one of the better forays into genre this year, and it’s definitely an album that’s gonna please the hell out of crowds during the band's extensive touring this year. I still think they’ve yet to release their master work, but with a commitment to a more steady line-up, hopefully it'll be directly on the horizon.
* I'd feel strange not mentioning the additional switch of drummer Uli Kusch with the immediately recognizable, overly experienced drum-work of former Rage mowhawked-drummer, Mike Terrana...who, as fans might imagine, does an excellent job here as well.
Register to post comments.
Time To Be King