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For me Masterplan's self-titled debut album was one of the best rock/metal albums of 2003. That year Masterplan was also Germany's best selling newcomer outside Germany. Thus, I am not the only one who has been eagerly waiting this new Masterplan album called Aeronautics which will be released on monday January 24th 2005.
The band's line-up has remained unchanged as Norway's AOR pride Jörn Lande takes care of vocals, Roland Grapow plays guitar, Uli Kusch fiddles with drumsticks, Jan S. Eckert plucks the bass and Axel Mackenrott plays keys. Since the debut album was such a power metal masterpiece it will be hard for the band to beat the expectations metal fans all over the world have conjured up.
Personally, I was a bit disappointed after I had listened Aeronautics a couple of times. However, the more I listened to it the more I liked it. This album is not as multi-faceted as the debut which had more distinctive guitar solos and more diverse song structures. In consequence, the album sounds more balanced and polished. Hence the sound is more fruitier. The songwriting is more AOR oriented and sounds like the band is clearly aiming for mainstream success by cutting down some of their power metal strains.
People who listen to heavy metal a lot may be disappointed with the songs on this album since the band has chosen the easiest way by making songs that appeal certainly to a large audience (i.e. easy listening AOR-oriented power metal => with Jörn Lande on vocals one could call their music as Whitesnake on steroids). Like Jörn sings on the song 'Into the Arena' "there's nothing new" just class A power metal. This album sounds more pop than the debut and songs are of quite even quality. Among my personal favorites on this album are atmospheric 'Back For My Life', wistful 'After This War', nicely flowing 'Falling Sparrow' and epic 'Black In The Burn'.
All band members have taken part in the songwriting and Roy Z. (who has worked with Bruce Dickinson & Rob Halford among others) has also had some influence on some tracks as an "inspirator/arranger" just like with the debut album. Andy Sneap and the band produced the album at the "Crazy Cat" studio in Hamburg. Mixing and mastering was done at Finnvox Studios. Overall, the production is excellent.
All in all, Aeronautics is a very good album. If you like power metal and/or AOR this album is a safe bet.
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- MIZU (15.01.2005)
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