Arch / Matheos: Sympathetic Resonance

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Arch / Matheos: Sympathetic Resonance
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Arch / Matheos: Sympathetic Resonance
Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal
Metal Blade Records
September 13th, 2011
Release length: 54:38
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In the Progressive world, there have been plenty of bands that have shaken up the style’s landscapes throughout the years, both in the Rock and Metal departments. One of those bands to make such an impact is the group Fate’s Warning. So, it comes as no surprise that when the collaboration of former Fates Warning vocalist John Arch, as well as co-musician and still active member of the group, Jim Matheos, was being put together, it clearly sent fans of the aforementioned group into a frenzy. But, it’s not just those two involved in this act, as other Fates Warning members have come forward to help make this a strong album, such as bassist Joey Vera, drummer Bobby Jarzombek, and guitarist Frank Aresti. With the line-up complete, Sympathetic Resonance was bestowed upon the ravenous fan base, and there was much rejoicing. But, does the entire current Fates Warning line-up working with their original vocalist from 1983 to 1987 really make for a solid effort?

The top notch production value of Sympathetic Resonance does work in the band’s favor, especially since the music here varies in tones. One song can sound pretty heavy and clearly more Metal oriented, while another comes through a bit lighter and airy to give off a more upbeat tone to the material and it’s atmosphere. This variation largely comes from the distortions on the guitars as well. You have a deeper, louder sound to one that feels really dirty and commanding, while another guitar comes through pretty clean and higher in pitch to add some additional melody to the mix, though can sometimes be a bit drowned out in the mix when the deeper guitars become the primary focus, much like with “Midnight Serenade” and “Stained Glass Sky.” The general pace of the album ends up being a mid pace with some slower material here and there, which the drums keep going fluidly and filling well. The cymbols come through pretty loudly with the snares and bass kicks being a bit lower, though the first of those two having a tighter sound to it compared to the deeper bass thuds of the latter. Those kicks do manage to stick out well though and add an extra kick to the music, making the impact of the music a lot harder in the long run. But it’s the vocals that can sometimes get a little out of hand. Anyone who heard Fates Warning‘s initial material will know about the higher, nasal clean singing of John Arch, which is exactly what you get with Arch / Matheos. It’s not necessarily bad, but sometimes that pitch in the voice will have a lot of extra energy behind it, leading to less of a range on some songs.

And that’s honestly what the problem with “Neurotically Wired” is. The song itself is pretty good, having a strong lighter atmosphere to it that seems to be more uplifting to start things out with, wrapping the listener up in a comfortable, secure blanket of musical goodness. Vocally, the higher pitch and nasal approach can get to be a little too much, though there’s still a decent variety to it throughout. This is mostly due to the song’s over eleven minute length allowing for additional vocals to be performed and many bridges and just general breaks from that vocal approach to collect your sanity. It seems, however, that pretty much right after this track, that lighter, upbeat sense that comes through much of the song goes away, and we’re given a slowly building stark contrast to it instead.

“On the Fence” is pretty strong and thoroughly enjoyable, as well as the most notably different offering on the release. It has enough of a Rock tone to it that the track manages to keep a grounded atmosphere, as if the music were keeping you restrained with lead or stones tied to your feet, even though the music itself feels a little airy and inviting to let you get lost and drift away with it. There’s also a good amount of times where the material wanders off into darker territory that feels natural and fluid to it, though the track itself was never too upbeat to begin with. This difference really starts off with “Midnight Serenade” though. The shorter lengthed track feels more driven towards an uplifting sound, but with some wonderouns music that has a slight darker twist to it to cater for the more imaginary-based lyrics. While the longer tracks of this release are all phenomenal, aside the vocals on “Neurotically Wired,” it’s the shorter tracks that really come off the most enjoyable, and even just downright fun to listen to regardless of whether the music is meant to be a more on the burdening side, and both of these tracks really become the proof of that.

But, you really just can’t dismiss how great “Stained Glass Sky” is compred to the others. The song’s more technical sound works well with the heavier music foundation the band brings with it, giving the track a commanding feel at times that will have you paying full attention as the chords and solos come your way. The nearly fourteen minute track hosts enough variety all around from the band to retain a unique sound that will really keep the listener attentive the entire time, and really stands out as one of the most redeeming songs off the release. “Incense and Myrrh” also becomes one of the more important tracks to hear, though the vocals again become an issue. The music itself feels very emotional and often takes on a more ballad approach, starting off with acoustic guitars that eventually pick up and incorporate the heavier electric guitars once more, though not as deep as they appear on the other tracks to really complete the experience.

Every track on Sympathetic Resonance really becomes an experience worth taking. Musically, there’s really nothing wrong about the album, and all six songs have their own reasons for standing out. It’s just too bad that the vocals can sometimes feels a bit too over-the-top with enthusiasm at times. It’s not that it really destroys your time with the music, but after a while that higher pitch can get a little annoying when clumped all together without any bridges, solos, or anything of the sort to space them out. But, if you call yourself a fan of Fate’s Warning, chances are you already have checked this album out. If not, Arch / Matheos are two talented musicians, working with their fellow band mates who also are highly talented musicians, that came together on Sympathetic Resonance to put out an album well worth any Progressive Metal fan’s time.

01. Neurotically Wired – 11:12
02. Midnight Serenade – 5:27
03. Stained Glass Sky – 13:57
04. On the Fence – 8:12
05. Any Given Day (Strangers Like Me) – 10:28
06. Incense and Myrrh – 5:23
Overall Score: 9/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Metal Blade Records.