Masterplan - 'Novum Initium'

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Masterplan - 'Novum Initium'

A simply wonderful, wonderful record.

You don't need a history lesson from me about Masterplan (if you do you're likely reading the wrong magazine). What you will want to know however, is whether the band have – after recruiting new members Rick Altzi (At Vance/Thunderstone) on vocals and Jari Kainulainen (Stratovarius/ Devil's Train) on bass – come up with a new album worth your time and attention?

And of course they have done just that. With Rick Altzi boldly taking over the microphone from Jorn Lande (no mean feat in itself) on 'Novum Initium', the band would seem have rediscovered the fire and energy they last had on their first two releases and then injected it into songs found on this new album. I will have to admit however that this isn't an instant album by any means. It took quite a while for me to really get into it and that I think always bodes well for any album. The ones that you have to work at to get the most out of the music frequently turn out to be the best ones in your record collection.

Beginning with the obligatory intro, Masterplan then hit hard with opening track and first single 'The Game', this one song is a statement from the band that says "We are back and are intent on taking no prisoners with 'Novum Initium'". Other big statements to watch for are the brooding 'Keep The Dream Alive', a devastatingly good mid-paced rock monster, the storming 'Black Night Of Magic' that features dynamic keyboard and guitar interplay, the highly melodic 'Pray On My Soul', the metaltastic 'Return From Avalon' with its face melting guitar solo and finally the ten minute plus epic title track, that takes Masterplan into almost progressive metal territory. This song combines intricate musicianship and complexity, with Altzi's almost Coverdalean vocal delivery and Roland Grapow's sweeping guitars to make one helluva awesome track.

This whole album from the performances, to the song writing, to the production screams class (with a capital C). And if anyone doubted their survival after the second departure of Mr Lande, they have immediately shown with 'Novum Initium' that Masterplan is back and a force to contend with.

A simply wonderful, wonderful record!

Ian Johnson

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