Masterplan - PumpKings
AFM Records
Power Metal
11 songs (63' 16")
Release year: 2017
Masterplan, AFM Records
Reviewed by Andy

When a band releases an album of covers, the first question that comes up is whether this is really the labor of love that the promotional literature always, without exception, says it is, or if it's just an easy way to get out of the label's contractual obligations. Or, perhaps, since the album is named "PumpKings", maybe the band is just going for the dubious distinction of "lamest-sounding album name of 2017"? But let's put the cheap shots aside for a moment. Is PumpKings going to cover hard rock and metal songs that influenced the band, or just a bunch of songs that they just happened to like? As it turns out, neither one. Every song on the album is a cover of a song guitarist/band leader Roland Grapow wrote for the band he was in before Masterplan: Helloween (hence the reason for that clumsy album name).

For obvious reasons, albums consisting solely of covers are usually a little weird, but that little extra bit of cognitive dissonance is added when the band's recording their own songs -- and since many of these songs are among the best of 90s-era Helloween, it's a weird feeling listening to them. But Grapow promised heavier versions and delivers on that promise: The guitars and bass get the front of the mix, and gravel-voiced vocalist Rick Altzi sounds a lot tougher than either Michael Kiske or Andi Deris. The guitar work, always good on the original, has been amped up with Grapow taking extra time to add all the flourishes that he thought of between the time he recorded the song and the present day. If you listened to Helloween from the start of the 90s till The Dark Ride and said to yourself, "Good songs, but I wish they'd been heavier and not so power-metal-y back then, and that their vocalist had had a bit more roughness in his voice," then this is perfect for you.

That being said, though, I'm not convinced that anyone, except perhaps Grapow himself, wants or needs a re-recording of that many Helloween songs, even decent-quality covers of good songs, revisited by their original guitarist. Just one, on another album consisting of new Masterplan material, would have been a fully adequate taste of Grapow's return to his roots. If you're a huge fan of Masterplan, this is an interesting take on Grapow-era Helloween songs with a heavier treatment than was meted out in the post-Seven Keys decade, an era in which Helloween explored softer and more offbeat territory. But if you only listen casually to Masterplan, a listen to the originals would probably do just as well, or better.

Killing Songs :
The best cover is probably Mankind
Andy quoted no quote
Other albums by Masterplan that we have reviewed:
Masterplan - Time To Be King reviewed by Kyle and quoted 84 / 100
Masterplan - MK II reviewed by Chris and quoted 85 / 100
Masterplan - Aeronautics reviewed by Marty and quoted 90 / 100
Masterplan - Back For My Life (CD Single) reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
Masterplan - Masterplan reviewed by Danny and quoted 95 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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