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When I heard that Jorn Lande had departed from Masterplan for a second time I was extremely disappointed. I am a huge fan of Lande and Masterplan’s previous album. ‘Time To Be King’ (2010) was absolutely fantastic on all levels; in fact, it is my favourite album by the band. Unfortunately and inexplicably (to me at any rate), despite numerous requests, Jorn refused to play live and tour with Masterplan, preferring to concentrate on his solo career, which of course is not an ideal situation when trying to promote your music, especially at a time when gigging regularly brings in the wages.

Enter new vocalist Rick Altzi (At Vance, Thunderstone, Herman Frank, Sandalinas, Frequency & Epysode), a quite fantastic singer in his own right, and he has done an absolutely sterling job on new album, ‘Novum Initium’, even sounding a bit like Lande in places (which bodes well for live shows). Altzi isn’t the only new face to join guitarist Roland Grapow & keyboard player Axel Mackenrott this time around. Jari Kainulainen (Stratovarius, Evergrey, Kotilpelto) is now the bass player and Martin Škaroupka (Cradle Of Filth, Inner Fear) is the fantastic new drummer. Credit where it is due; this band has never had the most stable of line ups but four of the five albums so far sound intrinsically like Masterplan (‘MKII’ being the slight exception).

Musically, ‘Novum Initium’ is excellent. The short instrumental opener ‘Per Aspera Ad Astra’ sets the scene perfectly for first track proper ‘The Game’ and, for the duration, Masterplan are firing on all cylinders, with this album being stylistically much more like the self titled debut from 2003. So, basically, it’s catchy, hard hitting melodic metal. In fact, some parts reminded me of latter day Kamelot (always a good thing). ‘Keep Your Dream Alive’, ‘Black Night Of Magic’ and the ten minutes plus of the closing title track are all great but two songs in particular stand out for me. Those are the eastern flavoured ‘Betrayal’ and the sublime ‘Through Your Eyes’. Both of these seem to find Altzi at his most comfortable vocally and the melodies are absolutely sumptuous.

‘Novum Initium’ doesn’t quite hit the heights of ‘Time To Be King’ but it is still a fantastic album, head and shoulders above many other bands. Deep down I will always want Jorn to front this band because I think his voice is perfect for the songs, but that is quite obviously, for whatever reason, not going to happen. At least we now have a band that can tour and I very much hope that this line up can stick together and turn Masterplan into the success that it oh so deserves.
AFM Records
Review by Rick Tilley
14th June 2013
1) Per Aspera Ad Astra
2) The Game
3) Keep Your Dream Alive
4) Black Night of Magic
5) Betrayal
6) No Escape
7) Pray on My Soul
8) Earth is Going Down
9) Return from Avalon
10) Through Your Eyes
11) Novum Initium
"‘Novum Initium’ doesn’t quite hit the heights of ‘Time To Be King’ but it is still a fantastic album..."