Masterplan - Novum Initium (2013)

Masterplan was once a side project formed by ex Helloween drummer Uli Kusch. Back then, his main jamming partner was none other than Roland Grapow, of ex Helloween as well. The band then undergo line up juggling with some of notable names in metal. Uli Kusch then resigned, replaced by Mike Terrana, but then Mike himself resign, so now the current drummer is Martin "Marthus" Skaroupka, of ex Mantas and Cradle of Filth band. Then in singer position, Masterplan had gone with proposal for names such as Michael Kiske, Russel Allen, Mike DiMeo and Jorn Lande. Michael Kiske and Russel Allen declined the regular offer but contributed in guest singer. Mike DiMeo (of Riot) then joined, to be followed later by Jorn Lande himself. Now it is Rick Altzi (of At Vance) taking care as Masterplan current singer. With such scramble line up, Masterplan did manage to uplift a strong name for power metal act for more than ten years now. Founder Roland Grapow is leading the team to released their 2013 album called Nova Initium. In this album, new bassist Jari Kainulainen of ex Stratovarius is part of their super team, in serve also long time keyboardist Axel Mackenrott (Gamma Ray, Megadeth).

According to Wikipedia, Per Aspera Ad Astra is something similar with a meaning 'no pains no gains'. So, that's the working title for the instrumental intro for Novum Initium. The Game is the first song. With thick power metal, the song is not about dragon or war. Instead The Game fit nicely to a lyric of life struggling, motivational theme. Keep Your Dream Alive is another nice cut. Not the heaviest track but instead Keep Your Dream Alive give a rather mellow feel, good verses and choruses, the song is again motivational theme.  Black Night Of Magic yet a neo-classical feel intro but turn into melodic metal, the lyric in chorus again fit nicely to the melody. Trying to break the flow, Betrayal come with different texture, with zither-like intro to begin a hard-rock feel tunes. Further in, Pray On My Soul is another creative opening composition. A standard catchy power metal feel can be found in Return From Avalon. The album ended with ten minutes composition on the album title track, Novum Initium.

So far, Novum Initium sounds like having more character than previously Time To Be King. Roland Grapow put a lot of works to make the songs not sounds as generic power metal. They success in avoiding pitfall of cheesiness and bombastic. There is no too bombastic track in here. The significant elements are their dynamic song writing, really the real emphasize had gone to the vocal line than the instrumental. Most songs are memorable, especially in the chorus and due to clever lyric writing. The musicians them self are really need little to compliments. Drummer Martin Skaroupka is showing versatile skill, listen to Pray On My Soul where the song come from interesting pattern to all the way to Dream Theater's Nightmare to Remember groove. Of course this album also special for Rick Altzi's present, he has no problem rendering the style in this album. Also the orchestration jobs is great, we have a dominant synth melody as well when it only need to stay background, same thing to say about the last working team mate, bassist Jari is busy covering the lower notes for Roland Grapow.

Taking that their ex comrades just released album in Jorn's Traveller, then a Spaniard invasion with Dark Moor's Ars Musica, this album is able to differed from that two. In fact all three albums are complementary to each other. So, a solid month for power metal fans, Masterplan Novum Initium is a worth collection to grab.

Metal Harem class: ******** eight stars out of ten

Masterplan - Novum Initium (2013)

1. Per Aspera Ad Astra
2. The Game
3. Keep Your Dream Alive
4. Black Night Of Magic
5. Betrayal
6. No Escape
7. Pray On My Soul
8. Earth Is Going Down
9. Return From Avalon
10. Through Your Eyes
11. Novum Initium

Rick Altzi – Vocals (At Vance, Herman Frank, Thunderstone)
Roland Grapow – Guitars (ex-Helloween)
Jari Kainulainen – Bass (ex-Symfonia, ex-Evergrey, ex-Killing Machine, ex-Kotipelto, ex-Stratovarius)
Martin “Marthus” Skaroupka – Drums (Cradle of Filth, Mantas)
Axel Mackenrott – Keyboards (ex-Beautiful Sin, ex-Gamma Ray)
Record Label: AFM Records

Masterplan Novum Initium album review

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