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Wicked Plan - Land on Fire

Wicked Plan
Land on Fire
by Kira Schlechter at 26 January 2020, 11:43 PM

It’s funny, I’ve heard so much great metal being made by women lately, I don’t even notice when a band is fronted by a woman and I don’t mention it in my writing anymore. It’s a non-issue. I think, or at least I hope, we as music writers are done with making the distinction – I know I certainly am. Switzerland’s WICKED PLAN is certainly one of those bands. Formed in 2012, their debut, “Out of Fire,” was released in 2016. The follow-up, “Land on Fire,” emerged at the end of 2019.

And while their sound touches on PRIEST and MAIDEN, if you miss QUEENSRYCHE circa “The Warning” or “Rage For Order,” more accurately, this might be your replacement. Kicking off with “Icarus,” the tale from Greek mythology about the son of Daedalus who flew too close to the sun on his father’s homemade wings, we are introduced to Natali’s huge voice, which falls somewhere between BRUCE DICKINSON and GEOFF TATE. Full of bottom and fullness, rich and almost syrupy with vibrato for days, she tells the tragic story with Dan’s guitar crying alongside. It does go on a bit too long, though, as does “Wings of Fire” and the title track.

The stomping “Vikings Return” is more restrained. The snare and cymbal work shines and Natali’s spits and snarls like a Valkyrie. The very PRIEST-like “Son of the Devil” has a hellacious, nasty swing, and they return to the catchiest of the musical themes they establish, techniques that make this one, and others, memorable. “Wonderland” has an intricate swirling rhythm, and Natali briefly serves as her own backing singer in the first verses. When they slow down the tempo, it lets her really stretch out. The chorus is striking and that little spoken-word section is interesting, as is the brief modulation on one chorus.

But here is where you notice that there’s lots of stuff going on that might be more effective if it was edited a little. Here, the groove is great, the keyboards are great (and they add rich texture throughout), the chorus is terrific and you could hear it all day, but there are elements that don’t fit as seamlessly as they should or that interrupt the flow, like that spoken-word section, for instance. Similar things occur in tracks like “Call of the Seven” – they do a great job with a main riff and variations on it, but the echoey section kind of doesn’t make sense and it goes off track and forgets itself a little at the end.

Natali’s voice is stellar on “Double Game” and the rest of the band is more than capable as well, but it’s a little awkward too. It kind of goes all over the place in the verses, but the chorus is strong – it twists and turns and goes on tangents, even though the structure is sound.  I was hoping they’d do something slower by this point, and “These Days” is it. It features Dan’s nicely percussive guitar work and Natali’s big but restrained belt intertwining and duetting with it most effectively. It’s almost meditative and reminiscent, perhaps serving as a thank-you to an audience. It has no real discernible chorus and ends exactly when it should.

“Metal in My Heart” borrows MAIDEN’S “Aces High” riff – just hinting at it – and it’s a real burner  It slows down to a nicely atmospheric bridge and displays the staying power of Natali’s voice and her impressive command of phrasing. The closer, “Dragons in the Sky,” is rapid-fire and frantic with plenty of DIO influence at play, but it too needs a bit of a trim. YNGWIE may insist “more is more,” but more can also be overkill at times, especially for a young band. Wicked Plan has all the pieces of the puzzle, they just need to hone them to fit it.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Icarus
2. Wings of Fire
3. Vikings Return
4. Land on Fire
5. Son of the Devil
6. Soul Hunter
7. Wonderland
8. Double Game
9. These Days
10. Call of the Seven
11. Metal in My Heart
12. Dragons in the Sky
Natali Keller - Vocals
Dan Keller - Guitar
Ed Cuennet - Bass
Martin Hammerle - Drums
Record Label: STF Records


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Edited 01 October 2020

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