Album review: MASTERPLAN – PumpKings


AFM Records [Release date 28.07.17]

Masterplan is one of those bands that as soon as someone mentions the name you automatically think, “What a great band!” At least I do. Since their inception in 2003, they’ve consistently released some killer Power Metal, even with line-up changes including different singers, you could always count on them putting out some top notch material.

When I was tasked with reviewing the new one, I leapt at the chance, not knowing or caring anything about it. I used it as an opportunity to revisit some of those songs that span their career as well.

When I saw the tracklisting I was seeing familiar titles, and all of a sudden it hit me…they’re familiar because they’re Helloween songs. As Roland Grapow is the spearhead behind Masterplan, he is also a known quantity in Helloween for many years too. Making a fairly odd decision, Grapow selected a handful of Helloween songs during his tenure for Masterplan to re-record.

Not to take anything away from Pumpkings (a play on the Helloween pumpkin motif,) I’m not sure if this was the best idea for them.

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the performances on here- in fact making them heavier and a different interpretation breathes new life into the songs, but after such an amazing album as Novum Initium in 2013 (the first with new singer Rick Altzi,) to decide to basically do a covers album is a little out of left field.

And frankly, though the performances are excellent, they seem uninspired and phoned in. I felt this from the first spin all the way up to my most recent, but especially so after listening to tracks from the previous albums- that definitive Masterplan fire seems to be missing. And don’t get me wrong, I’m as big a Helloween fan as I am of Masterplan, but I just think Pumpkings is a nice record, but not up to their usual greatness.

Masterplan’s Pumpkings is a good record, and excellent versions of some great Helloween songs, but I think I’d rather have new music. I figure this was probably a fun idea for the band to just cut loose and take a break so to speak, and perhaps they’ve got another killer album of originals coming soon too. It’s a good album to spin if you’re a fan of both bands, but it isn’t a must-have like their past albums, as far as I’m concerned.  ***

Review by Chris Martin

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