Arch/Matheos
Winter Ethereal


4.2
excellent

Review

by manosg STAFF
May 13th, 2019 | 108 replies


Release Date: 05/10/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The blueprint to how to play modern progressive metal.

If I had to describe the new Arch/Matheos album is just one word, that would be “unconventional”. From the timing of its release and the combination of the cover art/title, to its demanding content which, nonetheless, hits you on a deep emotional level, Winter Ethereal is not your typical progressive metal record. And how could it have been conventional when Jim Matheos is so far from your typical prog metal guitarist?Despite his impeccable technique, his (reminiscent of the great David Gilmour) less-is-more approach, is one of the reasons that has made Fates Warning’s output so special. John Arch, on the other hand, can be an acquired taste for some. Being one of the first power/prog metal vocalists and a blueprint of sorts for all subsequent singers, has a style that can either tire or make a listener love him. Listening to Winter Ethereal, it’s not hard to understand why. The man uses his voice as an additional instrument and has been given the freedom to make specific parts of a song longer, in order to fully express himself. As such, his voice is ever present and lifts the songs in a way that eventually make his performance one of the highlights of the album.

Nonetheless, it’s not the individual performances that make Winter Ethereal such a special offering; it’s the sheer level of emotion throughout the LP. Maybe the most representative sample of that is “Kindred Spirits”, which refers to rescue animals and animal abuse. The album closer is a behemoth of a track with many movements and several twists and turns. However, at the same time, it carries a level of emotional heaviness which brings to my mind My Dying Bride’s “For My Fallen Angel”. Moving on, "Pitch Black Prism" refers to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster through the eyes of a survivor and by now you must have fully grasped that this is not your usual progressive metal album. That is not to say, of course, that the instrumentation isn’t top notch, but that was expected with an impressive array of participants such as Steve Di Giorgio and Joey Vera on bass, or Bobby Jarzombek and Mark Zonder on drums. As a result, they have achieved a great sense of melody and clever use on dynamics, while some of the highlights of the album are when the two guitarists trade solos such as on “Never in Your Hands”. In addition, there is a nice mix of heavier moments, that might bring Dream Theater to your mind, and soft passages, and there is even a ballad (“Tethered”) where we can experience the constrained side of this band.

It is too early to say whether John Arch and Jim Matheos have managed to top Sympathetic Resonance, or if we have a progressive metal classic in our hands. Nonetheless, Winter Ethereal is an ode to modern progressive metal, with incredible depth that is due to all the minor details and its lyrical content. At the end of the day, Jim Matheos has once again shown the world how modern prog should be played, if that wasn’t clear on Fates Warning’s latest affair. And it might be time to accept that the legendary guitarist can do no wrong…




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user ratings (69)
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
manosg
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2019


11743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Just a quick write-up to have a place to discuss how awesome this is.

Digging: Cellar Darling - The Spell

CaptainDooRight
May 13th 2019


4103 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sweet just got this



but is that average the reel deel tho

manosg
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2019


11743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Hey, Cap! If you're a Fates Warning fan, yeah. Otherwise, it's a bit lower but still, this is brilliant.

RustCohle
May 13th 2019


325 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

One of the AOTY contenders for me, John's voice is still exactly like it was in his Fates Warning days.

manosg
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2019


11743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Same here. John's voice might be even better than Sympathetic Resonance.

CaptainDooRight
May 13th 2019


4103 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

huge FW fan!

Nagrarok
May 13th 2019


8599 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Arch is definitely an acquired taste, and completely worth the effort. His odd phrasing makes him truly unique, he's literally incomparable to any other vocalist.



Early Fates Warning is the best (but let's be honest, so is later Fates Warning, because Matheos does indeed seem incapable of any missteps), with The Spectre Within being my personal favourite. Of course, this album is pretty much an entirely different thing, and probably better because of it.

manosg
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2019


11743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Oh man, so hard to pick my favorite FW. Their latest is up there though for sure.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2019


8434 Comments


Excellent review Manos, kudos for piqueing my interest (especially with the My Dying Bride reference), unfortunately I don't have time to listen to this right now, nevertheless the album is bookmarked for imminent inspection.

And yay a Nagrarok comment!

Digging: Apparatus - Yonder Yawns the Universe

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2019


10697 Comments


Great review Manos! Gotta check this.

manosg
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2019


11743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Thanks Sitar, hope you enjoy dude!



You'll love this one, Voi. Just be aware that I used the MDB reference in terms of the emotional depth of the song; it's nowhere as miserable as "For My Fallen Angel" but the lyrics are really heartfelt.

Nagrarok
May 13th 2019


8599 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

What's up Voivod? There are some rare moments I still leave some comments here ;)

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2019


8434 Comments


^^All's good man, long time no see

TheNotrap
May 13th 2019


11833 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I've heard the album at the office and it seemed solid, I'll listen more closely now.



We can clearly see that you really loved the album manosg, nice review as always.



Digging: Baest - Venenum

manosg
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2019


11743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Thanks Notrap. To be honest, I didn't expect to enjoy this one so much but some of its moments hit me really hard.

ChaoticVortex
May 13th 2019


824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Damn you're fast manosg! I thought about writing a review for this but this is a short yet excellent write-up. Had high hopes for this record and thankfully it not only matched my expectations but ever surpassed them. Has touches of both old and new Fates Warning, while also becomes it's own thing. Loved how guitar-centric and melodic the songs are, Bobby Jarzombek's drumming is amazing and John Arch's voice is still very strong.

Worthy follow-up to Sympathetic Resonance.

rayraypine
May 13th 2019


78 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Jim is magical. If this is an indication of the new FW album, oh boy

bloc
May 14th 2019


57621 Comments


Gotta hear thisssss

Digging: Tatsuro Yamashita - For You

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
May 14th 2019


10218 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is very much another solid 4/5 for 2019

CaptainDooRight
May 14th 2019


4103 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

John sounds more confident here than before



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