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Masterplan: Aeronautics

Long review short, Masterplan's sophomore album Aeronautics is a step down from their eponymous debut, but it will still please most of their fans, considering the amazing musicianship, vocals, and the incredible production it encompasses.

The album begins with crunch-filled riffs by Roland Grapow thickened with ferocious bass and pounding drums. "Crimson Rider" was inspired by a pilot who lost his life in France during WW1. It's a brief yet hard-hitting opener that flows into the more mid-tempo "Back for My Life" where Axel Mackenrott's excellent keyboards underpin Jorn Lande's dramatic vocals. Speaking of Mackenrott, his keyboard contribution to Aeronautics is tremendous. I will respectfully disagree with other reviewers who say this album has little keyboard utilisation. To me, Aeronautics has more prevalant synth arrangements than the debut and some songs actually seem like they were penned around keyboard-generated ideas. On "I'm Not Afraid", not only do Grapow and Kusch revisit their earlier Helloween days, the song also has an undeniable symphonic power metal backdrop. Mackenrott tightly knits a web of symphonic aura that lets Lande shift smoothly between his crystalline and more aggressive vocals. The song also has some of his best screams on it that get really intense at the end. "Wounds" is the band's take on classic Euro power metal with a lot of double bass drums, poppier harmony guitars, cathcy choruses, and an enjoyable guitar and synth interplay. "Into the Arena", while sonically heavier, also expands on mighty synth work, tastefully placed far back in the mix by Roy Z. Great bass from Jan-S Eckert and a driving guitar melody hold the song together while Jorn Lande gets to convince those who are still unconvcined that he is one of the best vocalists in the universe.

Two songs that immediately caught my attention were "Dark from the Dying" and the last song "Back in the Burn". I feel this kind of songwriting is what the guys are best at, and maybe they should try to steer clear of the more formulaic, semi-hard rock and semi-power metal tracks. The darker the songs, the more effective Masterplan becomes. "Dark from the Dying" even features some Beyond Twilight type of multi-tracked vocal harmonies (again carefully hidden under more melodic undercurrents). It is broken up in the middle by a synth lead to develop added atmosphere and reaches its apex with soaring vocals until the song fades out. "Black in the Burn" almost sees 10 minutes and is the band's most complex and textured number. Open piano notes and a capella vocals become more engaging as guitars, bass, and drums join them respectively. Roland Grapow plays changing rhythms galore (we want more of this!) and the song is comprised of tons of melodic movements. Though I could certainly do without the lyrics in the chorus ("When the news are heard / About the fallen bird / Sing my song so you can remember / I just wanted to be here forever you see / To create my soaring melody"), this is easily Masterplan's most courageous songwriting experiment on Aeronautics. Another song whose lyrics I find terribly cheesy is the ballady "After the War", starting with great acoustic guitars that morph into a bluesy hard rock lead towards the end. However, the lyrics, rather than conveying thought, feel like they were put together based on the fact that they rhymed well with each other. I know the guys in Masterplan can do better than that.

The production of Roy Z is absolutely fantastic. Warm, slick and incredibly powerful. The drum and bass tone is perfect and Grapow's guitars sound heavier than the debut. That said, I still prefer the first album, and have to repeat myself: Masterplan is still the worst band Jorn Lande has been in. You don't believe me? Listen to Ark and Beyond Twilight, and see what this guy is truly capable of. Sadly, considering the music of his current band, he'll never get to demonstrate this side of his talent in Masterplan.

Track Listing

  1. Crimson Rider
  2. Back for My Life
  3. Wounds
  4. I'm Not Afraid
  5. Headbanger's Ballroom
  6. After This War
  7. Into the Arena
  8. Dark from the Dying
  9. Falling Sparrow
  10. Black in the Burn

Added: February 5th 2006
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Masterplan website
Hits: 3924
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Masterplan: Aeronautics
Posted by Kim Bergstrom on 2007-02-01 01:49:47
My Score:

Two things. First Masteplans debut. There are several versions of this that I'm aware of, and they (in my hunble opinion) vary from very good to completely amazing.

On Jorn Lande's previous work. How many of you have heard his (and his then band's) take on Rainbow's Stargazer? That, my friends ...

Masterplan: Aeronautics
Posted by John Papa on 2006-02-05 21:26:53
My Score:

Although there is a slight drop off from the excellent debut cd, this is still an excellent effort which requires a few spins for full appreciation. As much as I enjoy Ark's "Burning the Sun" and all of Jorn Lande's solo work, Beyond Twilight was and is a total bore.

Masterplan: Aeronautics
Posted by Carlos Canales Vega on 2006-02-05 19:07:41
My Score:

Let me disagree.I think the production is much less clear than in the debut, but the amount of excellent songs throughout the cd are better than the track list on Masterplan album that was slightly marred by filler.Namely songs like Into The Light and Bleeding Eyes did nothing to me.And i think both Masterplan discs are way better than the Beyond Twilight album were Jorn was involved.

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