Monday, November 18, 2013

Masterplan - Spirit Never Dies

“And the spirit never died, the world belongs to me.
This is where I've been given time to live and see.”

Masterplan is a German power metal band that formed in 2001. The founding members and leaders of Masterplan are guitarist Roland Grapow and drummer Uli Kusch, both of whom are former members of Helloween, with Grapow being the second lead guitarist and Kusch being the second drummer of the band. The two men intended Masterplan as a side project but were fired from their Helloween jig at the beginning of the project. While Grapow and Kusch are obviously very important to the creation and ongoing existence of Masterplan, also they both have a part in the history in the German metal scene; Masterplan is much more famous for Norwegian front man and super singer Jorn Lande.

Jorn is amazing.

Jorn Lande is some kind
of metal singing Viking god.
Jorn Lande is a powerful singer and has a voice wholly unique, a mad howling, echoing, Viking voice that shakes our souls with melodies most metal. He might actually be the greatest metal singer in the world. Before joining Masterplan, Jorn was the lead singer in Vagabond, The Snakes, Ark, Millenium, and Beyond Twilight. After joining Masterplan, Jorn formed a project with Russell Allen of Symphony X simply called Allen-Lande. Jorn also appeared as a guest singer for Embee Normann, Nikolo Kotzev, Diesel Dahl & Friends, Thunderlords, Ken Hensley, Genius – A Rock Opera, Ayreon, Pushking, and my personal favorite Avantasia. On top of all that, since 2000 Jorn has also had a successful solo career.

Basically Jorn has been in every band ever.

Like so many great European metal artist Jorn Lande is someone I have primarily grown to admire do to his work in Avantasia, and as such I am working backwards discovering all his amazing contributions to metal. But even before I discovered Avantasia I was familiar with Jorn Lande, because I was familiar with Masterplan.

Masterplan is basically, almost completely, unknown in North America, and I am not entirely sure how famous they are in Europe either. The highest any of their albums has ever debuted was their second album “Aeronautics” which was fourteenth in Sweden and the best they have ever done in their home country of Germany was thirty-ninth with the same album. However Masterplan seems to have some following because the Internet is rather fond of the song “Spirit Never Dies.”

I first heard “Spirit Never Dies” in an AMV (anime music video) this one:

Which has nearly two million views at this point in time, and there are apparently dozens of others AMVs which use the song. So at the very least anime fans love the song “Spirit Never Dies” and by extension so does the Internet, or maybe it is the other way around, I do not know. Whether the average Internet jockey or anime fan knows anything about Masterplan beyond the song “Spirit Never Dies” I cannot say, but there is effectively no mention of Masterplan, pretty much anywhere, beyond this song.

One of the reasons I find "Spirit Never Dies" so enduring is the theme.  "Never give up, never give in," and "there is no limit to what can be done," there is such a powerful positive message in this song that is just so uplifting, and hearing Jorn sing it, the way he does, there is just so much conviction and certainty that we, all of us, can do amazing thing. 

If one thing stands out however about the song “Spirit Never Dies” it is Jorn’s voice, and as a consequence I suspect people recognize him, elsewhere in the many collaborations and bands he has appeared in. When I first heard “Promised Land” by Avantasia, one of the first songs by Avantasia I ever heard, I instantly recognized the voice as belonging to one that so powerfully sang “Spirit Never Dies.” Of all the singers who were a part of Avantasia I don’t think anyone blew me away quite as much as Jorn Lande. Having multiple reasons to admire this Norwegian metal singer I felt obligated to pick up some of his work and where else to begin than picking up the first Masterplan album, the one with “Spirit Never Dies.”

The self titled debut album of Masterplan is good, really good, but the only song that really stands out is “Spirit Never Dies.” Sometimes it is difficult to pick a favorite track from an album, other times there is a clear front runner, and sometimes we all agree on which song it is. This is one of those times.

Masterplan is good but their only song that is truly great, as near as I know, (I still have to buy four more their albums), is “Spirit Never Dies.” It is one of those songs that takes off on its own and becomes famous, or at least kind of famous, for its own individual reasons. This is made all the more impressive since there is history surrounding the band and the lead singer that should theoretically eclipse the song’s popularity. The advantage to all this is that “Spirit Never Dies” is a great launching point for people to learn about other great music, namely the insane number of projects Jorn has been a part of, but also Grapow and Kusch’s involvement in Helloween and the rest of Masterplan repertoire. Also “Spirit Never Dies” is a great song, which I believe is pretty obvious since it has somehow outshined all the awesome things surrounding and related to it.

Until next month, keep on rocking in the free world.

- King of Braves

Did I mention that Jorn is amazing?  Because he is.

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