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After 2005's Aeronautics, Masterplan experienced some major lineup changes. Singer Jorn Lande and drummer Uli Kusch (of Helloween and Gamma Ray fame) both left the band -- and on 2007's MK II, the newcomers include Mike DiMeo (formerly of Riot) on lead vocals and Mike Terrana (who has played with Yngwie Malmsteen) on drums. But keyboardist Axel Mackenrott and guitarist Roland Grapow (formerly of Helloween) are still on board; in fact, Grapow is the band's leader and produced MK II -- which, despite the personnel changes, is not a stylistic departure from Aeronautics. Despite having a new lead singer and a new drummer, Masterplan still sounds like Masterplan -- and that means continuing to provide aggressive but melodic and intricate power metal with a strong progressive rock influence. Before MK II, Masterplan's sound was best described as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Ronnie James Dio with an awareness of Rush, Journey and Emerson, Lake & Palmer; that description is equally appropriate on MK II. Like Aeronautics, MK II is proudly, stubbornly caught in a stylistic timewarp; this album is totally oblivious to post-'80s developments in metal, and Grapow maintains his loyalty to the power metal and prog rock of the '70s and '80s. Of course, there is no law stating that all bands have to be innovative; the reality is that the vast majority of artists in metal or any other area of music are going to be followers rather than leaders, which is fine as long as their material is solid. MK II is definitely solid -- every bit as solid as Aeronautics. Those who are concerned about Masterplan unveiling a new lineup need not worry; Grapow sees to it that his band continues to offer worthwhile, if derivative, power metal on MK II.

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