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Arch/Matheos is a collaborative effort by two of the biggest names in the Progressive Rock field. The group is comprised of Jim Matheos of Fates Warning and OSI, as well as John Arch who formerly did vocals for Fates Warning, as well as Joey Vera on bass, Bobby Jarzombek on drums, and Frank Aresti on additional lead guitars. This effort came to be in 2010, and the group eventually recorded twelve new songs, with Jim Matheos producting the effort. According to the press release that accompanied a special two track digital sampler for the press, John Arch stated that “a lot [of] these songs…started off as material for the next Fates Warning record.” So, of course, fans of that act will almost immediately rush to pre-order this album, which is due to hit stores September thirteenth through Metal Blade Records.

Of the songs from the album included in this special sampler, the tracks “Midnight Serenade” and “Stained Glass Sky” are what were presented to the members of press to stream in full. And, much like John Arch had stated, it’s pretty clear that some of these tracks were intended to be material for Fates Warning. “Midnight Serenade” comes in with a very atmospheric start that makes you feel like you are drifting along the audio through a pretty simple start of acoustic guitar chords, whale’s crying out in the distance while a constant hum comes in and out before the slower Progressive Rock music kicks in. The song is good and makes for a relaxing listen, but it’s the chorus that really sticks out the most. Sometimes outside of there, the vocals can feel a little too over-the-top for the atmosphere that the track is giving off, which is often relaxing or can take that vibe and add a little extra heavier kick to it.

“Midnight Serenade” lasts a solid five minutes, but the second track, “Stained Glass Sky”, manages to just miss breaking the fourteen minute mark. Much of the song just makes you feel like your being pulled into some kind of dream thanks to the music. Again the song goes between the relaxation atmosphere and the same approach but with more kick to it, and it works well through some of the changes throughout the song that are well placed and manage to transition well. As you reach the end of the track, that relaxing environment does change slightly to a bit of a darker dream with how much heavier and bleak the song becomes. The vocals also become more energetic, which works well when that extra kick comes into play at that point, but luckily never seem to go too over-the-top like “Midnight Serenade”. But even in the song’s darkest of moments, it’s still all soothing and came even come off more fantastical then real.

The only real gripe you could have is that the atmospheres never really become strong enough that you will feel like you’re being transported elsewhere. Altough, the songs do manage to calm the listener and raise up a bit of a zen-like state at times through the generally more relaxing sound, despite how much of an extra kick the band gives that track. In the end, that’s one of the things you would hope to find in a Progressive Rock album if the atmospheres themselves aren’t strong enough to paint vibrant pictures in your mind, or just make you feel like you’re somewhere else entirely with or without your eyes being closed. These tracks basically are what you’d want to hear at the end of a long day at work or just a stressful day with the general public. Simply listening to this two tracks made me want to break out my bottle of Jack Daniels, and when done just lay my head back and let the music take me away.

So for that, this sampler of Sympathetic Resonance has my interest peaked. Aside the well talented musicians involved in this project, and not just with the two namesakes either, these tracks show a great deal of promise for the album. It’s the perfect mixture of edgy Rock with a more atmospheric Rock. If the rest of Sympathetic Resonance is like this effort, then it will simply be one fantastic Progressive Rock album. Hopefully the final effort works better with these songs as a whole to really enhance them more then just the songs by themselves on this sampler, as that’s one of the biggest allures to the style: How well each track works with another to enhance it and just make it sound better or more enjoyable for a whole other reason. But, even if it can’t do that, The arch/Matheos tracks provided definitely makes Sympathetic Resonance seem like an effort that you’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for in the coming months.

Article based on digital review material provided by Metal Blade Records.