This week’s column has a dark cloud over it as we mourn the passing of the great Ronnie James Dio. He was one hell of a singer and inspired so many that followed him. He will be sorely missed by all who loved metal.
Sun Domingo: Live in Montreal
Never heard of this lot and I doubt you have either. Generally not a good idea to hear a band for the first time via a live release. So this bunch had quite a bit to do to get me interested. The saga of how this came about, didn’t melt this cynical reviewer's heart. They always wanted to open for Marillion and, after years of effort, got a chance to in Montreal in 09.
Despite the fact they are a three piece, they are not Canadian. I mean the lead singer plays bass, ala Geddy Lee as well. All that said the band actually delivers on this release, despite its warts and all live feel. And if you are at all on the wobble, their version of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” will push you over the edge in appreciation. In short the band does a fine line in accessible progressive rock. The fact the band is so tight helps quite a bit. You will find yourself warming to the band a couple songs in, I am pretty sure.
So a decent band with a fun story to tell, living their dream, and delivering the goods. What is there not to like?
Masterplan: Time to be King
First things first: Jorn Lande is back in the fold fronting the band after departing over musical differences after their third album. All respect to Mike DiMeo, but the version of Masterplan he fronted just didn’t cut the mustard. Masterplan you will recall was the side-project for two members of Helloween’s Roland Grapow and Uli Kusch, until they got sacked by Helloween and it became their full-time gig. Kusch has since left the band.
The only problem for Masterplan is that they set the bar so high with their debut. Everything that has followed has a hard time living up to it. That said, nothing they release is bad in any way, most power metal bands would beg to release one of their cast off tracks. This release is a solid power metal release, but does not have the immediacy of their debut. It rewards multiple listens as a certain grower that builds into something quite satisfying. “Far from the End of the World,” the first single, is a great track, but doesn’t muster that instant gratification of say a “Spirit Never Die” or “When Love Comes Close” off their debut.
That said you will be hard pressed to find a better melodic power metal album than this release. It just takes time to get under your skin. Grapow can rest assured this release blows spots off Helloween’s latest. Yet again Masterplan are back to show us how it's supposed to be done.
Subheaded “Dreamtone & Iris Mavraki's” this band is a combination of Turkish band with a Greek singer. Now anyone aware of that part of the world knows that Greeks and Turks getting along is quite a feat; the fact they are in a band together is quite fascinating. What is more is they do a fine line in progressive power metal. Nothing ground breaking, but a quite decent sort of music.
The dual vocals gives the tunes an edge level of complexity as well. This their second album and one that could get them noticed by the power metal hordes. There is a smattering of traditional instruments lurking therein, no more so than on the title track. The band seems keen to draw from whatever works best, so there is some variety on this release that you might not find on all releases of this kind. “Final Odyssey” has an intro, that sounds a bit 80s dance music at first that soon gets blown away.
Let's hope this release will raise the profile of the band in the US. Considering how many Neverlands there are and the length of their current name, a new moniker might help ward off any confusion. Certainly a band that deserves your ears. Proving Turks and Greeks can work together one note at a time.