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Masterstroke - Sleep (CD)

by Ian Kaatz at 14 February 2008, 12:37 PM

I chose to review this CD blindly simply for the fact that they are opening for JON OLIVA'S PAIN on a European tour this May, and basically I figured Jon wouldn't have a sub par act opening for him. Before I go any further let me just say that you should never doubt The Mountain King or anything associated with him.
Niko Rauhala and Janne Juutinen formed the band in 2002. The band formed with the current members except for a different bass player, Mikko Viheri?l? (ex-DREAMTALE). Then 2003 Jari Tiura (SNAKEGOD, MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP) took over the vocal duties. However, both the previously mentioned members didn't work out. Following their departure the current incantation of MASTERSTROKE formed. The band has played some gigs and released one other album.
Sleep begins with an intro that is questionable in purpose and probably could have been left off since it adds little to the beginning of the first song Killing Creatures. Immediately I hear why they are on tour with The Mountain King when a very solid slightly raw sounding Power Metal hits my ears. Niko has a great vocal tone and fits the music perfectly, the slight gruffness in his voice from time to time only adds to the aggressiveness of the music. The next track kicks off with some sweet keyboard shreddery, which took me by total surprise since the keyboards were almost totally lost in the previous track. Overall the song didn't strike me as a standout but a solid song nonetheless.
Under Our Command begins with some really speedy drums that really get your head going. The guitar crunch is turned up to at least 15 and is very reminiscent of MORGANA LEFAY, but not as much in the chorus. Another Failure repeats what Under Our Command started with ultra crunchy riffs and then into a chorus that I find to fairly similar to MASTERPLAN. The fifth song/sixth track begins quite differently with an acoustic guitar that builds up into a mid-tempo song; not my favorite track from the album. Being Me picks it back up and has an almost PAGAN'S MIND kind of feel too, which means it rocked. Niko demonstrates the greatest vocal range in this composition.
The title track from the album also has a PAGAN'S MIND-y kind of sound as well, but the vocals are rougher than on any other song. I enjoy the keyboard sound in the background of this track, very nice. The opening riff from Silent was borderline Thrash, but then the guitars retreat a little to a more moderate pace and heaviness. I found the Final Journey, which also happens to be the final song from the album to be pretty much along the same lines as the rest of the album.
Though they have an odd name that I don't really get MASTERSTROKE have definitely brought an awesome album to the table this time. These are guys are no non-sense Power Metal and should get any fan head banging within the first few songs.

3 Star Rating

Killing Creatures
Turn Away
Under Our Command
Another Failure
The Circle
Being Me
Final Journey
Niko Rauhala - Guitar, Vocals
Markus Kekoni - Guitar
Jussi Kulomaa - Keyboard
Janne Juutinen - Drums
Marko Kolehmainen - Bass
Record Label: Dynamic Arts Records


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