MASTERPLAN – PumpKings (Album Review)

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Masterplan PumpkingsMasterplan‘s PumpKings launches off the starting line like a stone being fired from Dennis The Menace‘s slingshot! The album features new recordings of old Helloween compositions. Revisiting his former band, Masterplan leader Roland Grapow has re-vamped the material. The album became available on August 11, 2017, thanks to AFM Records.

Guitarist Roland Grapow joined German trail blazing power metallers Helloween in 1989 taking over for founding guitarist Kai Hansen. Remaining with Helloween for twelve years, Grapow also recorded eight albums with them. In 2001 Grapow and Helloween bandmate Uli Kusch were dismissed due to creative differences. Therefore, after leaving Helloween they formed Masterplan which has issued six stellar melodic power metal masterpieces. There has been a somewhat of a revolving door of membership in Masterplan, Kusch himself departing in 2006. Today we find Rick Altzi (vocals), Axel Mackenrott (keyboards), Jari Kainulainen (bass) and Kevin Kott (drums) alongside Grapow. I personally have seen Masterplan impress in a live setting at Sweden Rock Festival a few years back. Altzi is a powerhouse vocally and the melodic nature of the songs is truly infectious. Therefore resulting in one of my most enjoyable sets of the festival.


The songs, re-records of Grapow penned material all originally recorded by Helloween between 1990-2000, come from five albums. The absurdly titled 1991 issued Pink Bubbles Go Ape, 1993’s Chameleon, 1994’s Master Of The Rings, 1996’s Time Of The Oath, and 2000’s The Dark Ride. Sadly nothing appears from 1998’s Better Than Raw album, an early Helloween entry in my personal collection. The famed guitarist has incorporated a different spin in this re-recording project, hence updating his compositions with the things that he would do differently in today’s age.

As a result, the sound is bombastic. Loaded with delicious Grapow guitar soloing and pounding double bass drums. Chock full of soaring vocals ala Rick Altzi and thundering bass. These re-records are perfectly mixed with all instruments getting their showcase and all audible in the overall mix. Exactly what I expect from my power metal! This may not be the Helloween you necessarily know…but its some Helloween you definitely should know!

Meaty power metal that leaves you hungry for more…but now the agonizing decision…Masterplan or classic Helloween?




The Meister 

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