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Dull and confused. - 57%

Empyreal, July 21st, 2012

This album is lauded by a lot of people, but I never really played it that much and only remembered a few songs. At first I figured it was because I needed to invest more time and attention to listening to it, but really Masterplan’s debut album is just not that good, and it sounds less convincing and less coherent every time I try it. These guys got popular for virtually pioneering the whole power metal/hard rock thing that Edguy streamlined and made even more popular about two or three years later. But Masterplan was there first, the true innovators – it’s just a shame this isn’t a better album.

I suppose not every innovation is perfect. Some of them, as demonstrated here, are quite messy and unpolished. Masterplan’s debut has a lot of things going on and a lot of variety, and I like that about it, but nothing really gels on here. Some songs are good – opener “Spirit Never Die” is a rollicking, slick power metal bruiser with some very inventive vocal lines from superstar Jorn Lande and some soaring melodies, and other songs like “Soulburn” and “Into the Light” have some stirring moments. “Heroes” is kind of fun, if a little shallow.

The problem is that the mixture of chugging, massive guitars and Lande’s rather candy-coated melodies doesn’t sound natural. Songs like “Crawling from Hell” and “Bleeding Eyes” are just awkward and odd, with the band sounding unsure of themselves and failing to really integrate all the elements of the songs together. They don’t really sound like they belong together in the same song – if you took the riffs and added them to a less keyboardy, melodic-styled album, they’d be fine, and if you took Jorn’s catchy vocals and put them over happier, more simplistic music, it would probably work – but together it never really works.

And more basically than that, most of these songs are just not very exciting. I can’t remember a note of “Sail On,” “Enlighten Me” or “Crystal Night” after they are over. Closing ballad “When Love Comes Close” has a nice melody, maybe, but it doesn’t stick either. The performances are all fine, and Jorn sounds good, but the songwriting is mediocre and never hooks me in. Mostly I just end up looking at the clock to see how much time I have left before it’s over. Not a good sign, Masterplan…not a good sign.

So yeah, this isn’t that great, but I can’t give it too low of a score because it’s got some good moments amidst a sea of mediocrity, and it did inspire a style which I enjoy quite a bit. But if you really want to see this style done well, go get one of the recent Edguy albums – it’ll be much more worth your time and the songwriting is a lot better overall. And that’s about all I have to say about that.

Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com