Published on August 26th, 2017 | by Justin G.
Masterplan: PumpKings (AFM)
Oh hell yes, a new Masterplan album! It’s been way too long since the last one, and that one (2014’s Novum Initium) was killer, so this new one has to be…Wait, it’s a covers album? Well, that’s not quite what I had in mind, but it could still be cool and…Wait, a covers album of only Helloween songs? Sigh, that’s odd. But hey, Helloween songs are great, so…Wait, it’s a covers album of only Helloween songs from albums like Chameleon and Pink Bubbles Go Ape? Why is this even happening?
Apparently this is something that Masterplan guitarist/founder Roland Grapow was really keen on doing, taking a new look at material from his time in Helloween and all that. And to be fair, some of those albums (Time of the Oath and The Dark Ride in particular) did kick ass, and this particular Masterplan lineup can make pretty much anything sound good, so PumpKings is worth giving a fair shot.
For the most part, these songs sound very different this time around. Part of that is due to Masterplan vocalist Rick Altzi having such a different vocal style than Helloween’s Andi Deris (or Michael Kiske). That alone changes the dynamic in a big way, but so does the overall tone and chemistry Masterplan has. Some songs – “Mr. Ego,” “The Dark Ride” and “Time of the Oath” in particular – sound like what they are: Helloween covers. Others, like “The Chance,” “Mankind” and “Escalation 666” almost sound like Masterplan originals. They’re all well-executed, even if the song selection doesn’t always reflect the best that era had to offer.
Much like the recent Rhapsody of Fire rerecordings, PumpKings sounds great, but wasn’t remotely necessary. It’s not bad by any means, and it’s better than having no new Masterplan album at all, but it’s hard not to be a bit disappointed not having a proper follow-up to Novum Initium.
Summary: This is so not what I wanted...