Markus' Heavy Music Blog

My world of music - est. 2013


CD review MASTERPLAN "PumpKings"

Veröffentlicht am 22. Juli 2017 von Markus W. in Masterplan, Helloween, News, CD Review, AFM, Heavy Metal, Power Metal, Speed Metal

CD review MASTERPLAN "PumpKings"

(6/10) From a timing point of view the release of “PumpKings” is a quite interesting one. In a time when Helloween’s close to the Pumpkins United tour, including Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen, it is former Helloween guitarist Michael Grapow who releases an album that features eleven songs from the ‘Pumpkins’. I can’t tell you if this release is a way to participate in the existing Helloween/Pumpkins hype or if it was a 100% based on a pure passion for these nine songs. Therefor I stop speculating and focus on the music you get with “PumpKings”.

As mentioned, the album features eleven tracks that cover the era from the 1991 release “Pink Bubbles Go Ape” to “The Dark Ride” which was released in 2000. Songs like "Mr. Ego" and "The Dark Side" are actually good metal tunes even though these nine years don't belong to the strongest ones in Helloween's long history and redoing them with Masterplan didn't add something to the total. OK, production techniques improved and the sound might have a bit more power, but on the other hand the Helloween-signature got lost a bit too. What's missing is a certain ease. This album feels bloodless and comes across more as a 'must do' rather than a release with much blood, sweat and tears.

What remains is the question if the world was waiting for this release at this very moment? You have to give the answer yourself but for me it would have been far more exciting to get a new Masterplan longplayer, considering the fact that “Novum Initium” was released four years ago. I can’t get rid of the idea that this album is more a performance of duty based on another motivation than creating a thrilling metal record.





  1. The Chance
  2. Someone's Crying
  3. Mankind
  4. Step Out Of Hell
  5. Mr. Ego
  6. Still We Go
  7. Escalation 666
  8. The Time Of The Oath
  9. Music
  10. The Dark Ride
  11. Take Me Home


Label: AFM Records

Genre: Power Metal

Release Date EU: July 28th, 2017


CD review SERIOUS BLACK "As daylight breaks"

Veröffentlicht am 14. Januar 2015 von Markus W. in Serious Black, Masterplan, Blind Guardian, Heavy Metal, Power Metal, Melodic Metal, News, CD Review

(7/10) Serious Black is a new band with well know band members. The most known one is Roland Grapow (ex- Helloween and Masterplan) that teamed up with bass player Mario Lochert (Emergency Gate). Lochert had the idea of such a band like Serious Black already for a longer period of time and after he convinced Grapow he contacted drummer Thomen Stauch, known from his time with Blind Guardian and Savage Circus. Having those guys on board the line-up was completed by adding "Urban Breed" (v), Dominik Sebastian (g) and Jan Vacik (keyboards). So it became a quite international band/project.

The six guys started in 2014 to work on their first album. The creative process of writing songs went very well and already after a few days the first ideas got more shape and form.

However, in the meantime the debut is recorded and ready to be shipped to your local record dealer. "As daylight breaks" is the name of the disc that hosts eleven songs. Based on the musicians history it is not a big surprise that we are talking in this case about melodic (power) metal.

The first single release also became the opener for the album. It is a good choice an a powerful beginning. "I seek no other life" expresses exactly what the title promises. It seems that Serious Black has found what they have been looking for. The opener is a fast track that has a touch of Axxis. It has a good groove and spreads a really positive vibe.

"High and low" starts even faster than the opener. Especially the chorus keeps the high speed while the verse is dominated by a crunchy guitar and real groove.

Half way Serious Black has build in a small break. The intermezzo "Temple of sun" is a short instrumental that introduces "Akhenaton", a song with a darker vibe, moderate pace and some oriental melody lines. Still the chorus is very catchy. For me one of the highlights on the album.

Will the album have a ballad? Yes. To my surprise it is the title track "As daylight breaks". The tune starts with a piano part  and the music creates a picture of a break of dawn. The song builds up to a power ballas (actually I don't like this word) that is quite dramatic and has an bombastic approach. Maybe songs like this have been heard before, but I also have to say that this one is one of the better ones. A ballad that doesn't 'taste' too sweet. And the vocal of Urban are thye cherry on the cake.

To mention also the in general powerful production of the album. Each instrument enough space to 'breath' and the total longplayer is a pure energizer.

Serious Black have not re-invented melodic power metal. It's the quality of the songs the arrangements that are convincing and the performance of experienced musicians that is the big 'plus' on this record. Fans from Axxis and Masterplan can go for this album without hesitations.





  1. I seek no other life
  2. High and low
  3. Sealing my fate
  4. Temple of the sun
  5. Akhenaton
  6. My mystic mind
  7. Trial of murder
  8. As daylight breaks
  9. Setting fire to the earth
  10. Listen to the storm
  11. Older and wiser


Label: AFM Records

Genre: Melodic Metal

CD review SERIOUS BLACK "As daylight breaks"

CD review: Masterplan "Novum initium"

Veröffentlicht am 14. Juni 2013 von mwie in Heavy Metal, CD Review, Masterplan

Three years ago German power metal band Masterplan released their latest album called "Time to be king" - with singer Jorn Lande. After the release of this album it became quite. Masterplan's presence became less and less. Therefore it was not really clear what was to expect from the new album. Also taking into consideration that Jorn Lande was replaced by Rick Altzi gave question marks. But Rick, who sang already for Thunderstone and At Vance did a great job. His voice fits perfect to the songs. The rhythm section with Jari Kainulainen (Stratovarius, Evergrey) and Martin Skaroupka (Cradle of Filth) create a strong foundation for a heavy sound. And Grapow's guitar soli show that he still knows how to do it.
One thing is clear: Masterplan used the time to re-energize and to write songs for the new album which are great. "Novum initium" starts with an intro called "Per aspera ad astra". "The game" gives the first direction - a straight forward power metal song with a good drive and great vocals by Rick. The energy gets even more intense by the good production. With "Keep your dreams alive" comes the first mid tempo song which keeps the high level from the beginning. "Pray on my soul" has even some elements of Avantasia. With "Black night of magic" and "Return of Avalon" the album has another two faster song which are convincing. All in all there is no filler on the whole album. The album rounds off with the bombastic title track "Novum initial". It's a 10:17 long masterpiece of European power metal. 
Considering the three albums which are released today in this genre (Masterplan, Jorn, Civil War) it's the Masterplan release which is the best one. They are back in business and hopefully the line-up will stay.
1. Per aspera ad astra
2. The game
3. Keep your dream alive
4. Black night of magic
5. Betrayal 
6. No escape
7. Pray on my soul
8. Earth is going down
9. Return from Avalon
10. Through your eyes
11. Novum initium   
    Label: AFM (Soulfood)
    Genre: Melodic metal
CD review: Masterplan "Novum initium"