Arch / Matheos
Sympathetic Resonance


4.5
superb

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
September 26th, 2011 | 142 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is not an unofficial Fates Warning release, nor is it "Awaken the Guardian" Part II. This is modern, guitar-driven progressive metal featuring an all-star lineup that manages to avoid falling into a cycle of self-indulgent tangents.

It’s no secret that Arch/Matheos is made up entirely of current and ex- Fates Warning members, but it would be wrong to think of this as an unofficial eleventh release from the band. In all honesty, Sympathetic Resonance sounds nothing like what Fates Warning have been doing lately. By extension, despite the fact that this album features three-fifths of the classic Awaken the Guardian line-up, this isn’t a sequel to that release. When pressed, the band have said that if there has to be a comparison made it should be to the John Arch EP, but even that is misleading. The truth of the matter is that this isn’t the industrial-tinged prog of current Fates Warning releases, nor is it the fantasy power/prog of Arch-era Fates Warning and it’s not even really similar to the melodic prog of that two-song John Arch release. Sympathetic Resonance is a near-constant collection of heavy riffs combined with melodic leads and a ton of progressive metal nuances that doesn’t dilute the formula with keyboards, samples or extended subdued passages.

For long-time fans, that description is probably quite a surprise considering the fact that Jim Matheos hasn’t been a part of anything ‘metal’ since No Exit in 1988. Apparently he has just been biding his time because this album is straight-up progressive metal from start to finish. Having said that, the opening track actually begins with a single ominous guitar melody and John Arch’s vocals, but the subtlety is very short lived. It only takes a few moments before the band is fully committed to belting out riff-after-riff for the majority of the next eleven minutes that make up “Neurotically Wired”. Over the course of that song the band goes through more twists and turns than some bands make over the course of an entire album, and they do it without any of the over-indulgences that generally plague extended prog tracks. Following a brief – it’s only five minutes long – second track, the band move into the center-piece of the album, the fourteen-minute “Stained Glass Sky”. Without a doubt, this is the track where the band pulls out all the stops and simply showcases every positive facet of their sound. There’s the extended opening instrumental section featuring some of Frank Aresti’s most shredding solos over a handful of frenzied riffs and the chaotic, yet precise, percussion from Bobby Jarzombek. It’s also one of the stronger, more instant, tracks thanks to a memorable (yet not overused) chorus and John Arch’s vocal acrobatics – but if some people are going to have a problem, it will probably be with John’s vocals.

For those unfamiliar with John Arch’s history, suffice it to say that he hasn’t had anything to do with music since the mid-eighties (with the exception of a single two-song EP in 2003), but he was an exceptional vocalist. It’s also very obvious within the first few minutes of Sympathetic Resonance’s opening track that John’s vocals are still as powerful and unique as they’ve always been, but I’d still like to reiterate the date I mentioned earlier: 1986. That was the last time John Arch sang on a full-length album (the classic Awaken the Guardian) and his vocals stick to the upper-register associated with that time period. The real fact of the matter is that long-time fans won’t be negatively affected by his vocals at all; in fact his presence is one of the biggest selling points. On the other hand, new listeners are definitely going to require an adjustment period due to John’s unique delivery and obvious eighties prog leanings. It’s an adjustment that they should definitely try to make, though, because John’s vocals are (and always have been) some of the best and most unique in the genre thanks in large part to his off-kilter style of vocal melody construction.

When news first broke that John Arch and Jim Matheos were collaborating again and that their backing band consisted entirely of current and ex- Fates Warning members, the message boards buzzed with comparisons even though no one had actually heard a single note of music. What it comes down to, though, is that this is a new chapter in Jim Matheos’ and John Arch’s musical careers and can’t realistically be compared to what they’ve done before. Sympathetic Resonance is a wholly modern collection of powerful progressive metal songs that don’t rely on keyboards, industrial effects or long bouts of subtlety. It’s an album that is guitar-driven from start to finish, featuring an excellent rhythm section and the triumphant return of John Arch’s unique vocal acrobatics.



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user ratings (82)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
September 26th 2011


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

A 5-minutes snippet of "Staind Glass Sky":

http://sputnikmusic.com/blog/?p=7239

Watch their drummer recording his drum parts here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/BobbyJarzombekTV

Digging: Mors Principium Est - Dawn Of The 5th Era

AsoTamaki
September 26th 2011


2525 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Finally, a review!

Agreed with just about everything written here. The only thing I would argue is the "Jim Matheos hasn’t been a part of anything ‘metal’ since No Exit in 1988" bit. It's really more like "Jim Matheos hasn’t been a part of anything ‘metal’ since Perfect Symmetry in 1989," imo.

Those Jarzombek vids are amazing too. He absolutely kills it on "On the Fence." That's probably my favorite from this record.

tkxxx7
September 26th 2011


6159 Comments


Oh, this

TheBaronofBadNews
September 27th 2011


77 Comments


Could not stand this...

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2011


6340 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Was waiting for your review on this Trey.

Will read and comment later within the course of the day.

Digging: Madred - Supersonic Brainfuck Overdrive

scissorlocked
September 27th 2011


3511 Comments


seems pretty interesting

but still, modern day prog metal sounds rather boring in my ears

will check it though

Digging: Low Roar - Low Roar

Willie
Moderator
September 27th 2011


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's really more like "Jim Matheos hasn’t been a part of anything ‘metal’ since Perfect Symmetry in 1989," imo.
I really wouldn't consider it metal. I mean, it kind of is, but it's not riffy like this or No Exit.

Oh, this
Elaborate?

Could not stand this...
What about it bothered you?

but still, modern day prog metal sounds rather boring in my ears
Yeah, give it a shot because I was mainly trying to convey that this doesn't sound 'dated' or like Awaken the Guardian which was released back in 1986.






Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2011


6340 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Exceptional review.-


it would be wrong to think of this as an unofficial eleventh release from the band

In September issue of the Hellenic Metal Hammer (issue 321), there is an interview of Jim Matheos for the promotion of Sympathetic Resonance.

When Matheos was asked how come he didn't make a new FW record instead, he said that during song writing, he believed that this material would end up as a new FW record.

According to Matheos's words, that didn't happen, because Ray Alder was unavailable at that time, for various reasons (Matheos doesn't give details for Alder's unavailability, but I'm guessing it had to do with the new Redemption album due in October 2011).

Matheos also said that John Arch wanted to involve himself again in the music industry and as both parties were communicating frequently, they agreed to co-operate.

Jim Matheos hasn’t been a part of anything ‘metal’ since No Exit in 1988.

If your are talking about "classic" metal, I agree.

On the other hand, new listeners are definitely going to require an adjustment period due to John’s unique delivery and obvious eighties prog leanings

As this is the first time that I come in contact with Arch's vocals, I must agree with what you say. Although Arch steps on the notes perfectly, he is singing high pitch all the time and this is a considerable minus for me (personally). Aside from that, his job is interesting overall and I must say that in moments, his inspired vocal lines, somewhat reminded me of Psychotic Waltz's Buddy Lackey, when he was singing high pitch (first two PW albums).

Willie
Moderator
September 27th 2011


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

In response to your first quote, I see where you're going with that and I've read interviews where he said similar things, but he also went on to say that once he realized that it was John and not Ray doing the vocals and that it wasn't going to be a Fates album that he went in a different direction.

If your are talking about "classic" metal, I agree.
I am.

As for John's vocals, if this is your first experience with them then you have to hear Awaken the Guardian.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2011


6340 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

once he realized that it was John and not Ray doing the vocals and that it wasn't going to be a Fates album that he went in a different direction.

Totally true, i just forgot to type it my previous post, but at a subsequent question - if Alder were available, this would be a FW album? - Matheos stated that the end music would be a FW record if Matheos had time to involve.

Surely something was lost in translation, idk...

Don't get me wrong Trey, i really like the record.

Perhaps Arch's vocals is what made this record so energetic and intense in the first place, as Alder's vocals are less aggressive overall.



Btw, Jarzombek's drumming is sick, I would love to see him play in extreme metal outfits (thrash/death/black)

Willie
Moderator
September 27th 2011


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Perhaps Arch's vocals is what made this record so energetic and intense in the first place, as Alder's vocals are less aggressive overall.
I think their new drummer has a lot to do with the intensity. Mark Zonder is an awesome drummer but he never really played with intensity. Also, you need to hear the new Redemption album before you think that Ray can't be aggressive when he wants.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2011


6340 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Will do.

Arch's vocals somehow reminded me of Buddy Lackey's work in the first two Psychotic Waltz albums.

Willie
Moderator
September 27th 2011


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

They do have a similar style. Looking forward to their new album too.

tkxxx7
September 27th 2011


6159 Comments


Elaborate?


Just putting this in my discussions as a reminder to listen.

Parallels
September 27th 2011


6643 Comments


Yessssss album rocks

HorrorBusiness78
September 28th 2011


110 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

This album is incredible. Musically, I hear a little bit of every era of FW, and John sounds as good as ever. He also managed to outdo himself with his lyrics. He's always written extraordinarily well, but this is probably his best work collectively.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
September 28th 2011


31624 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So this is pretty cool

Digging: Theo Parrish - American Intelligence

Sound
September 28th 2011


3904 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I guess this is another case of "Musically accomplished... vocally challenging", eh?

This seems like something I'd dig. Will look further into when I've finished Perfect Symmetry.


Parallels
September 28th 2011


6643 Comments


His vocals haven't aged at all since Awaken the Guardian... scary

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 29th 2011


6340 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oyvind Haegeland (Spiral Architect, Arcturus, Manitou) would be a superb choice for the vocals in this one.

He, as well, resembles a lot to Buddy Lackey, even though he is a lot more "operatic".



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