The German power metal band Masterplan has returned with a massive line-up change and a new record, ‘Novum Initium’ to be released mid-June via AFM Records. The shift in members is mostly surprising due to the fact that their new drummer is no one else but Martin Skaroupka, member of Cradle of Filth (that’s probably one of the main reasons why in this record the drums really stand out in a different way). The new bassist is Jari Kainulainen (former member of Stratovarius) and Jorn Lande gave the mic to Rick Altzi.
‘Novum Initium’ begins with a strong intro that gets you in the mood for hearing more: ‘Per Aspera Ad Astra’ (latin for Through hardships to the stars). After that, ‘The Game’, the first single of the album, gets the ball rolling with strong drums, an anthem sound, and a headbanging vibe showcasing their seriously insane song writing skills. What is impressive and to be remembered throughout the whole album is the fact that every song contains one of more solos. The masterpiece of the album is without a doubt the closing song, that wears the name of the album, a track that is 10:17 minutes long and takes you through a musical journey of epic proportions. This track would represent Peter Pan’s Neverland for the power metal lovers, so I really suggest checking that one out when the album is released! For the ones who love more slow paced songs – close to being called ballads but not quite there – the track ‘Through your eyes’ is the mellow spot of ‘Novum Initium’.
The album seems to be split into 2 categories of tracks: the ones with a strong fixed melodic backbone flowing from the beginning to the end(‘Pray on my soul’, ‘Return from Avalon’), and the ones who have multiple sudden rhythm changes(‘No escape’, ‘Betrayal’ ). Unfortunately, the ones belonging in the second category might come across as chaotic, especially when the switch in the rhythm happens at a fast pace and the listener might end up not knowing what to make of the track. This is the only piece of constructive critique I can make on this record.
All in all, ‘Novum Initium’ is a great album and the line-up change did good to the band. Masterplan did not revolutionize power metal with this one, but they added a brick in the wall of bands that can create solid records one after the other, and the world needs more musicians like these!