Maximum Metal Rating Legend
5 Excellent - Masterpiece. A classic.
4.5-4 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a lacking.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio.
2.5-2 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors.
1.5-1 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible - Waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.
1/11/2008 - Review by: Etiam


Company: AFM Records
Release: 2007
Reviewer: Etiam
Rating: 3

As the story goes, Masterplan was conceived to be the supergroup to end all power metal supergroups, with its members to include Russell Allen and Roy Z in addition to the established core of Uli Kusch and Roland Grapow (each recently departed from Helloween), with keyboardist Janne Warman wrapping up the roster. However, this lineup never gelled properly, and instead the band “settled” on Norway’s Jorn as the vocalist. The band’s first two albums were met enthusiastically by metal fans both old and new, and it appeared that Masterplan, while still admittedly a step down from Helloween’s incomparable heights, would still be a respectable and worthwhile entry in the field of power metal.

After ‘Aeronautics’, though, the group began to splinter off. Janne left after the first album, having never officially joined the group, and Jorn and Uli left in quick succession before the recording of the band’s third album, ‘MK II’. This left Roland as the sole superstar of the band, and some wondered whether the band would still live up to their lofty name and precedent.

To answer the critics, Roland recovered well by finding solid, experienced talent to fill the gaps: Mike Terrana, most well known for his stint in Rage (and wicked Mohawk), filled in on drums while the vocal duties were taken over by ex-Riot member Mike DiMeo. Although neither are quite as popular in today’s scene as their predecessors, they still brought respectability and veterans’ presence back to the name of Masterplan.

Ultimately, though the specific politics of the line-up are secondary—the only thing that really matters is whether the music itself is a success—and on that front Masterplan have succeeded. ‘MK II’ may technically be a departure from the band’s first two releases, but any fan of Grapow’s meaty riffing and anthemic heavy rock will find plenty to enjoy here. The album’s first song, ‘Warrior’s Cry’, after overcoming a tepid first verse from Mike Dimeo, quickly lays out Masterplan’s new modus operandi: thick riffs, stout drums, soulful sing-along vocals, and two fistfuls of catchy choruses that make ‘MK II’ sound like heavy metal’s version of a Broadway revue.

Mike’s vocals, after that forgettable start, soon come into their own and fit right in. His style is an uncanny mixture of Apollo Papathanasio and Chris Cornell, with a few touches of the aforementioned Russell Allen, although Mike not quite as singular a talent. That said, he does show off an impressive range at times and consummate control. For the most part he tends to stick to the middle-high register, which is well-suited to Masterplan’s approach.

It’s difficult to say just what elevates ‘MK II’ beyond similar albums, such as Firewind’s ‘Allegience’ (which received the same rating, but more reluctantly), when they are all so stylistically similar. Perhaps it is because, while Masterplan cater to the same carefree reprisal of 80’s hard rock, they do it with a distinctly metal edge. Whether it is their uplifting, speeding choruses or divebomb solos from Grapow’s axe, ‘MK II’ is unabashedly fun heavy metal and isn’t afraid to show it. Neither is it afraid to show its roots in that 80’s rock era, which can be both an asset and a flaw. Some songs fall a little flat, having reached too far back into the rock ‘n’ roll annals, and the backing keyboards are largely superfluous, but the album as a whole remains engaging.

Now made up of longtime veterans, Masterplan are a group who knows what works and are sticking to it. ‘MK II’ may lack some of the fire of Masterplan’s previous albums and the creative ingenuity of the members’ previous projects, but it is consistent and reliable. It carefully skirts the borders of cock rock while still employing much of its straightforward catchiness, and injects enough driving drumbeats and juicy harmonics to deliver a satisfying crunch. For those looking for some good ol’ fashioned hard rocking metal, something to kick back to or sing along with, ‘MK II’ delivers.
8/17/2007 - Review by: Vinaya Saksena
Masterplan - MK II - 2007 - Candlelight Records

Track Listing:
1. Phoenix Rising
2. Warrior's Cry
3. Lost And Gone
4. Keeps me Burning
5. Take Me Over
6. I'm Gonna Win
7. Watching The World
8. Call The Gypsy
9. Trust In You
10. Masterplan
11. Enemy
12. Heart Of Darkness
Being a long-time Deep Purple fan, I couldn't help but notice this album's title, which bears a more than passing resemblance to that of Purple's most revered lineup. In both cases, the name refers to the band's second lineup, which is thought by the band members to have provided a much-needed creative boost.

Mind you, former Masterplan vocalist Jorn Lande and drummer Uli Kusch were hardly a musical liability, as original Purple members Rod Evans and Nick Simper supposedly were in the eyes of their former band. But with the arrival of longtime Riot vocalist Mike DiMeo and drummer Mike Terrana (of Rage fame), Masterplan seem to have turned a corner.

Gone for the most part are the basic, almost non-existent riffs and relatively non-threatening nature of the band's second album, Aeronautics. What has taken their place is not quite the anthemic, semi-progressive metal of their debut album, but a record with (to my ears) a greater dynamic range and versatility than was found on Aeronautics.

Musically and lyrically, MK II does not stretch out into proggier territory, sticking mostly to "intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus" arrangements and fairly general lyrics about various types of struggles encountered in life. However, the album does display considerably more adventurousness and spontaneity than either of the band's previous efforts, making it a satisfying listen and a return to form that should please fans whose attention had started to drift.
While it may not be earth-shattering, MK II finds Masterplan again offering something worthwhile for rock and metal fans across petty sub-genre divisions. From the slow but steady and anthemic "I'm Gonna Win" to the mid-tempo grooves of "Enemy" and "Take Me Over" to the explosive bursts of power, speed and melody on "Warrior's Cry" and "Masterplan," the power/ prog/ hard rock hybrid bases are covered nicely.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)

    3.5 :AVE RATING

Eric Compton2/28/2005
Anthony Burke12/19/2003
Vinaya Saksena8/17/2007
Time To Be King
Chris Kincaid5/19/2010

Roland GrapowEdwin2/28/2005

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