When founding Fates Warning members John Arch (vocals) and Jim Matheos (guitar) re-united for a full album in 2011 it was a genuinely nice moment in Progressive Metal history. As any fans of Fates Warning will know, John Arch left/was asked to leave the band after their first three genre-defining albums and whilst he and his trade-mark ‘high-and-higher’ vocal range faded from public view Fates Warning and his replacement Ray Alder continued on to this very day. I, like many others, felt rather sorry for John in hindsight, he was a great singer but in a style that just didn’t fit with his band any more – even though it was fine a few years earlier.
So when these two re-united in 2003 on John Arch’s “A Twist Of Fate” EP, there was much anticipation of more soon to come…and then it didn’t…until that full album “Sympathetic Resonance”, utilizing Fates Warning members past and present finally appeared in 2011. A chance to show everyone what an alternate version of Fates Warning could have been with a vocally more mature John Arch, and a musically heavier-minded Jim Matheos – and it worked! A great debut that personally I much preferred to what Fates Warning had produced for quite a while…but then I am much more of a fan of early (up to the mid 90’s) Fates Warning – so it was no surprise really.
This time around, the line-up still comprises both present and former Fates Warning rhythm sections (Joey Vera, Bobby Jarzombek, Joe Dibiase and Mark Zonder) – but more in a guest capacity so that Arch/Matheos can also use other notable musicians, such as renowned bassists Steve Di Giorgio and Cynic’s Sean Malone, alongside drummer Thomas Lang. In 2011 John Arch had a point to prove and I felt at times his high-vocal acrobatics reflected this, maybe not wanting to be out-done by the years of experience his colleagues around him had garnered. This is Progressive Metal after all, but ironically the music of Arch/Matheos is actually very slightly less technical than you might expect, much more resonant of early 80’s Fates Warning, therefore at times Arch has a tendency to sound like he is over-singing at times and that is a trend continued on “Winter Ethereal”.
I say this to inform people really, because in a way this is John Arch’s project – he is front and centre (Jim Matheos also has Fates Warning, OSI etc.), so really you have to be a fan of his vocal style to maybe fully appreciate this album. It’s fine by me as I do like his style, always have, but it might not be to every progsters taste as it is of a style that has it’s roots nearer to early 80’s speed metal. There are moments of individual musical brilliance scattered throughout the album as you would expect, but equally (like on the excellent ‘Wrath Of The Universe’ for instance’) there are passages of a unit of musicians + vocalist working perfectly together and that’s personally what I enjoy about Arch/Matheos.
And, as is so often the case, personal taste is might just be what this album is about. It won’t be progressive enough for some, it won’t be heavy enough for a few, and it won’t be accessible enough for others. But for many people it will be just what they hoped for from two guys and some friends re-visiting a style of music they shared in the past and overlaying their own maturity on top. I reckon it is pretty much what it should be, what it is supposed to be and should not leave anyone familiar with Fates Warning or any of the people involved disappointed at all.
(7.5/10 Andy Barker)