4.5 out of 5 Stars!
Perhaps not as immediate as the debut album, this is still one KILLER release! This comes off as a cross between Dio meets Black Sabbath meets Whitesnake meets a whole slew of prog-metal bands such as Dream Theater and Symphony X and Vanden Plas all mixed into one (although Masterplan is neither as out-and-out “prog” or as straight-in-your-face “metal” as the aforementioned bands, but instead they are a nice merging of the genres….the best of the best). Each song on offer here is different (ie. no two songs sound the same) which makes for a nice variety of rhythms and melodies and arrangements.
But the icing on the cake is Jorn Lande, a front man who is perhaps THE best heavy-rock vocalist since the good ol’ days of Ritchie Blackmore discovering what would prove to be the finest line-up of singers in the history of rock (through Deep Purple and Rainbow). Lande has BALLS and a voice that (to my ears) puts him right up at the top with the greats such as Ronnie James Dio, David Coverdale, and Ian Gillan. He not only has one of the strongest set of pipes I’ve heard in a long time, but also a keen sense of melody and both a gruffness and a bluesy smoothness when required. Fans of the singers mentioned above will LOVE this guy!
Unfortunately, Lande left the band shortly after this album was released (note: he will eventually return), so I can only hope his replacement is at least half as good, since the band deserves to go far with two strong releases in a row.