Album: SYMPATHETIC RESONANCE
Label: Metal Blade
Track Listing: 1) Neurotically Wired 2) Midnight Serenade 3) Stained Glass Sky 4) On the Fence 5) Any Given Day (Strangers Like Me) 6) Incense and Myrrh
It’s been twenty-five years since John Arch last appeared on a full-length album. Since Awaken the Guardian, the former Fates Warning frontman released his solo EP A Twist of Fate in 2003 with help from former band mate Jim Matheos. An impressive return it seemed, yet it was to be another eight years before a full-length record would emerge, and here we are with Sympathetic Resonance. Bringing in further ex-Fates Warning members Joey Vera (Bass) and Frank Aresti (Guitar) almost makes this a version of Fates Warning in itself with Bobby Jarzombek completing the line up on drums.
This is an ambitious and undoubtedly progressive release, containing six solid pieces of music, three of which clock in past the ten minute mark. Neurotically Wired and Midnight Serenade are stunning tracks to open up the album. Arch’s angelic vocals glide sublimely above the voracious technical instrumental passages that shift relentlessly from one heavy riff to another. The guitar tones are beefy and heavy as hell. Creating a monstrous wave of sound, Matheos and Aresti execute intellectual guitar wizardry through the shifting time signatures. Each section compliments the next as tension-building soft passages mould seamlessly with the heavy riffage. Arch’s persistent use of the harmonic minor scale creates a sense of mystery that runs throughout the album. His vocal delivery is staggeringly powerful and with his high range as strong as ever this record is proving to be more than just a welcome return.
Stained Glass Sky is the longest track clocking in just shy of fourteen minutes. The instrumental intro is a show of technical brilliance and a prime example of how these musicians have inspired the likes of Dream Theater and Symphony X. Despite its mammoth length the track succeeds in being melodically rich and musically entertaining. Any Given Day (Strangers Like Me) is not quite as polished with some sections feeling a little out of place if not forced to fit into the arrangement. On the Fence and album closer Incesnse and Myrrh are shorter ventures (the former still hitting the eight minute mark) that solidify the strength of the album; expertly written songs that don’t outstay their welcome. Arch’s lyrics frame him as the perfect storyteller. His first person fantasy accounts blend perfectly with the instrumental progressions, together forming an intriguing musical landscape.
Far from just a Fates Warning side project, Arch/Matheos is a collaboration that has proven it has a place in the current progressive metal scene. The high calibre song writing seldom fails to impress, the individual performances from each contributing band member are unfaultable and the production is clear and polished. Kicking off a month full of highly anticipated progressive releases from the likes of Dream Theater, Opeth and Mastodon, Arch/Matheos have set the standard high.
1) Neurotically Wired
2) Stained Glass Sky
3) Midnight Serenade
Reviewed by: Daniel Aston, 05/09/2011