Masterplan – Novum Initium
Reviewed by Arno Callens
MK II, Novum Initium; you’d think Masterplan has gone through more Marks in their career than Tony Stark has wasted Iron Man suits. Another New Beginning then, in a year where novelty is in (see Timo Tolkki’s The Land Of New Hope and ReinXeed’s A New World) [Editor’s note: Also Thy Symphony’s A New Beginning]. Alas for Masterplan, their third incarnation is clearly the weakest, and one wonders if they could survive another.
Which isn’t to say Novum Initium is an ironic and tragic end to the band. Masterplan obviously tried really hard to make this one soar, suffering delay upon delay, and possibly creating unreasonable expectations. The end result is, simply put, solid, but nothing more. It pains me to say this about a band I love, and a record I anticipated for over a year (especially considering predecessor Time To Be King was their absolute peak), yet I wish now that I hadn’t waited with such anxiety.
First off: Rick Altzi. Now, I don’t know if Mike DiMeo wasn’t available or interested, but he seemed like the logical choice to step once more into the departed Jorn Lande’s giant Norwegian boots (who, in the meantime, has obviously been busy making one solo record per month). Altzi is a good singer and not one I seek to trash, but he lacks the charisma of Jorn or even DiMeo, and isn’t quite as active in the higher regions as one would want. For an album already dangerously low on immediate hooks, Altzi delivers them without Masterplan’s usual punch.
A feat not made any easier with the darker, riff-oriented material present here. We’re a long way from “Heroes” here, or even the delightful experiments of Time To Be King, as Masterplan churns out moody ominous songs such as “No Escape” and the twisted first-time-epic “Novum Initium”. If you want more classic Teutonic power metal, we can refer you to advance track “The Game”, album highlight “Black Night Of Magic” and the adventurous “Return From Avalon”, but little else. Previous to this, you’d be hard pressed to find filler amidst the killer, but here the two seem to be in disappointing balance.
I could make lots of dramatic closing comments about how this is “the new beginning of the end” or such nonsense, but in the end I can hardly say this is a bad record. It’s just not one that’s going to find its way to my CD player as much as the previous four. Four to one in Masterplan’s advantage, I guess any great band can take a hit sometimes.
3.75 // 5