Masterplan

Aeronautics

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Back in 1982 and 1983, no one would have used the term "cult following" in connection with power metal. In those days, artists like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden were not marginalized -- they were all over MTV and FM rock radio. But in rock's post-'80s, post-Nevermind environment, power metal flies under the radar and attracts what has long since become a cult following. That doesn't mean that power metal disappeared after the '80s; quite a few power metal revival bands have been formed in the '90s and 2000s, but you have to know where to find them. Power metal revival outfits are especially plentiful in Western Europe, home of Masterplan. Aeronautics, the band's second album, is best described as power metal with a strong progressive rock influence -- think Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Ronnie James Dio with an appreciation of Rush, ELP, and Journey. Of course, the power metal orientation isn't surprising when you consider who is in the band; Masterplan includes two-ex members of Germany's Helloween (guitarist Roland Grapow and drummer Uli Kusch) as well as bassist Jan S. Eckert of Iron Savior fame. Meanwhile, lead singer Jorn Lande is a Norwegian headbanger with an obvious David Coverdale/Deep Purple influence. Put all those things together, and you have a 2005 release that often sounds like it could have been recorded 20 or 25 years earlier. This highly melodic effort rocks aggressively, but not quite as aggressively as some of Europe's other power metal revival bands -- and one of the things that softens the blow is Masterplan's appreciation of prog rock as well as classic hard rock and arena rock. Aeronautics isn't the least bit groundbreaking, but it's a solid, respectable outing that will please power metal diehards -- especially if they also appreciate progressive rock.

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