|When Niko Rauhala and Janne Juutinen decided to form a band in the spring of 2002, they had to think of a good name for a band that would have surprising and clever songs. After some brainstorming they came up with a name that seemed to fit them perfectly: MASTERSTROKE. Of course.
At first there were four members in the band: Niko Rauhala - vocals & guitar, Janne Juutinen - drums, Mikko Viheriälä (ex-Dreamtale) - keyboard, and Arto Tissari (ex-Korpiklaani, Crystalic) - bass. Masterstroke made a demo CD and played some gigs with this line-up.
In 2003 another guitarist, Markus Kekoni. joined the band. At the end of the year Masterstroke also got a new singer, Jari Tiura (Snakegod, Michael Schenker Group).
In 2004 Masterstroke went to the studio to record a demo with the new line-up. However, there were more changes to come: Mikko decided to leave the band, and he was replaced by Jussi Kulomaa. The band played several gigs in 2004, but after a while it turned out that Jari Tiura was unable to concentrate fully on Masterstroke. It was time to remodify the line-up, and soon Niko was back behind the microphone.
By 2005 Masterstroke had had enough of recording demo CDs. The band went to the studio again, but this time a full-length album was recorded instead. Arto Tissari played the bass on the album, but after the recordings he chose to concentrate on the other bands he plays in. The band wished him all the best and welcomed a new bass player, Marko Kolehmainen. The Masterstroke debut album Apocalypse was ready in the spring 2005. The band also found a record company which was supposed to release the album worldwide. Unfortunately the company was unable to carry out these intentions, and in the end the album was only released in Japan and Russia (which makes it rather like a collector's item).
If anything, the setback gave the band even more determination. In 2006 Masterstroke played some gigs and wrote new songs, this time in a slightly more aggressive vein. The band started to prepare for a new album, even though they didn't know who would release it and when. The pre-production began in the autumn, and in early 2007 Masterstroke sent the pre-production CD to some record companies. A couple of them were seriously interested in the band, but after some negotiation one of them turned out better than the rest. After some messages, phone calls and meetings, Masterstroke signed a deal with the Finnish record company Dynamic Arts Records.