|Masterplan Aeronautics||AFM Records|
One of the year's most eagerly anticipated metal releases is one of the first off the ranks. The January 24 release of Masterplan's second album is another step towards world domination for the band.|
One of the very best hard music vocalists in the world is Jorn Lande. He fronts a band whose line-up may not consist of household names, but whose recording pedigree runs deep. Should the label do their job properly, these guys will soon be far better known.
Aeronautics takes the blueprint of the band's debut and builds on it to create an even more impressive beast. The debut was something pretty special, but without making to many changes, this is close to magnificent.
While not as instant as the debut – that album featured a couple of pretty catchy anthems to grab on to – Aeronautics is far more consistent and song driven affair. The first run through offers the listener a lot of promise, but it's the subsequent plays that sees the promise delivered.
This is an incredible collection of songs that gets better with each listen, as the intricate musical weave unravels, revealing the layers and the melodies beneath the surface.
And the key to this depth and maturity is an utterly sensational production job by man of the hour Roy Z. A better choice could not have been made and Roy delivers a package that is as tight possible, while remaining evenly mixed and a joy to listen to.
He has also brought out the best possible performances in everyone – Lande's vocals are among the best recorded anywhere, the urgent riffing and inspired soloing of Roland Grapow drives the record, while the rhythm section is amongst the most brutal I recall.
And adding melody and dramatic texture to the record is keyboard master Axel Mackenrott.
Once digested, it's easy to see the many moods this record has. The dark and pounding opener Crimson Rider is brutal, yet melodic; the natural choice of a single Back For My Life takes on a certain commercial feel and could easy fit amongst the top charting songs anywhere in the world – especially in this post-Evananscence world.
The anthem Wounds is anything but that during an enthralling moody verse, but suddenly doubles momentum during the breakthrough chorus.
I'm Not Afraid is driven by that monster rhythm section and some soaring vocals, but it's the keyboards of Mackenrott that creates the mood on this album highlight.
The band rock through Headbanger's Ballroom, but prove they can change tempo and slow it down during After This War.
Into The Arena is another brutally heavy track and Lande's vocal is again inspired. How he brings melody to such a heavy track is amazing.
Dark From The Dying is yet another track that reveals itself after several listens and provides another change in texture to the album. It seems to provide some ease in the intensity of the album, which is ideal leading into one of the best tracks on the album in Falling Sparrow. I believe this track will be a favourite with many as it has a brooding moodiness to it and through a winding chorus provides Lande with one of his best vocals of the album.
Determined to end the album with a high impact track, Black In The Burn fits the bill perfectly. This track really builds from a killer intro into a monster of a track that winds through some 9 minutes of pure metal joy.
The prog-rock tinged song features inspired vocals, intricate piano work, deafening riffs and a mid-song passage to rival Metallica, making this another classic track and an example of perfect world class metal in 2004.
This band has a great chemistry and one hopes there is plenty more to come. A live CD and DVD next would be nice.
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