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One step forward. - 60%

Tobbe L, June 23rd, 2013

Masterplan's fifth full-length album features their third lead vocalist and partly because of this situation the band never had a strong momentum. They came out strong with two brilliant releases back in the day, but since then I reckon nobody knows whether they're on hiatus, have disbanded, or if/when new material will see the light of day. With Novum Initium we see a new and altered band formation, leaving only main man and guitarist Roland Grapow and keyboarder Axel Mackenrott as existing original members and also the only two left in the ranks from last album, 2010's Time To Be King featuring Jorn Lande on vocals.

Novum Initium follows a solid melodic metal trace based on Grapow's guitar play almost straight throughout. With former Stratovarius long-time member Jari Kainulainen in the ranks, Masterplan also holds a truly skilled bass player and new lead singer, Rick Altzi, proves that he's got what it takes to do the job for this unit. This release basically carries pretty good songs all throughout, yet there's a consistent lack of those solid punch in the face moments that force you to scream your lungs out in a madness. Although I've listened to this disc well over a dozen times, the majority of the songs never really strike me hard, even if most include some individual luster and neat patterns.

Grapow's heavy riffing is what defines and differentiates this album from other releases in the vein of melodic metal, but being a prominent musician doesn't equal great and outstanding songs. However, the ten minute title track and especially the latter half of it is awesome. The Game with its speedier approach also appeals to me and so does the captivating, easily digested, and fairly catchy Return From Avalon. One thing is for certain, this release is way better than Lande's uninspired and final effort with Masterplan, so even if some of my words above seem somewhat patronizing, Novum Initium is still a fairly good release.

Originally written for www.metalcovenant.com