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John Arch

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John Arch A Twist Of Fate (EP) album cover
4.30 | 86 ratings | 22 reviews | 56% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Relentless (12:25)
2. Cheyenne (15:36)

Line-up / Musicians

- Joey Vera / bass
- Mike Portnoy / drums
- John Arch / vocals
- Jim Matheos / guitar, keyboards
- Andy Happel / violin, cello

Releases information

Metal Blade #14440

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to SouthSideoftheSky for the last updates
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JOHN ARCH A Twist Of Fate (EP) ratings distribution

(86 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(56%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

JOHN ARCH A Twist Of Fate (EP) reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by TheProgtologist
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars This ep,which contains only two tracks,clocks in at a little over 28 minutes.Do not expect a rehash of early Fates Warning.After 16 years out of the spotlight and not singing a note since leaving Fates Warning, Arch sounds like he's never been gone.His voice is as powerful as ever.The musicians on this ep are Fates Warning guitarist Jim Matheos,Armored Saint and Fates Warning bassist Joey Vera,and drummer extrordinaire Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater."Relentless" and "Cheyenne",the two songs on this ep,exemplify what good progressive metal is all about.Tremendous vocal work,with Arch's voice going all over the place,tasteful guitar and bass playing and crisp,complex drum work.There is really no "noodling" on this cd,each musicians playing complements the other,forming a wonderful cohesive whole that is even greater than the sum of it's parts.Superb songwriting,musicianship,production.I hope we don't have to wait another 16 years before we hear from Mr. Arch again.4 stars
Review by Marc Baum
4 stars For many underground metal fans early Fates Warning with John Arch is like a bench mark in both musicianhip, vocals, and songwriting. When John Arch was given his walking papers from Fates Warning and never showed up in any other bands or released any new music, it was heartbreaking. A man with such talent, not only in his amazing vocals but in the way he crafted his uplifting melodies and lyrics.

It's now been almost 20 years since the release of the last Arch-era Fates Warning album, Awaken the Guardian, and this is John Arch's first release since then. With so many years passing by one has to wonder if John Arch still has it in him, he freely admits he hasn't sung a note since at least his audition for Dream Theater. But somehow Arch dusts off his pipes and gives it a go that brings the listener under his enchanting vocal spell, bringing one along for the ride.

Musically it's really not too surprising given the personnel Arch enlisted for the album, Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) and old writing partner Jim Matheos (Fates Warning). This sounds like a mix of predominantly new Fates Warning (with the odd hint to the old) and Dream Theater. "Relentless" and "Cheyenne" with their keyboard swirls, slightly progressive stop/start guitar riffs definitely drip of "newer" prog metal.

What brings the album back and gives it more a definite identity is that all encompassing vocal of John Arch who soars and weaves his magic over and over again, from the openings vocals of both songs (Cheyenne almost bringing a tear to my eye, being as beautiful as it is) to the climax and endings where John really shows how he's matured, bringing forth smoother and a little less disjointed melodies (compared to the early days of course). John still knows how to write a vocal melody that's very different and that's his trademark, that's what makes you recognize him from the very instant those vocals start. He's not usual and he definitely does not create the easiest melodies for one to sing.

John Arch has returned to the metal world, for how long we don't know yet but by god I hope he can stick around a little longer. This EP is a must-have for all the Arch-era FW fans and an excellent addition to any prog rock/metal collection. I still hope for a full length album (?).

AToF rating: 8.5/10 points = 87 % on MPV scale = 4/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars John Arch the former FATES WARNING vocalist is back ! 16 years is a long time but we last heard John on FATES WARNING's "Awaken The Guardian" album back in 1987. He did try out for the vocalist position with DREAM THEATER but they hired James LaBrie instead. He also was up on stage as a guest with FATES WARNING back in 1994, but that's it. In early 2002 Jim Matheos called John and asked if he'd be interested in singing for a new project that he and Mike Portnoy were starting called OSI. John declined but that call really got him thinking about getting back into singing so he phoned Jim back and asked if he could squeeze some time in between this OSI record and the next FATES WARNING album they were going to record. Jim agreed and Portnoy wanted to be a part of it as well. Mike Portnoy and John Arch have been friends since before the first DREAM THEATER album came out. Former FATES WARNING bassist Joey Vera was also added to fill out the band. During the summer of 2002 they recorded this EP. I wish this was one band that stayed together, what a lineup ! I have to say as well that this is hands down the best EP I have ever heard, and one of my all-time favourite recordings. Thought provoking pictures as well like the boy pulling his wagon of possessions (toys etc.) on the cover, contrasted with the picture of the old man pulling a shopping cart with all his possessions in tow. A twist of fate indeed. Jim and John wrote the first track "Relentless" together, while "Cheyenne" was written solely by Arch. John has said the lyrics are very personal, the first track brings up his childhood while the second deals with native Americans (John is part Cheyenne). He sure puts everything he has into this vocally.

"Relentless" opens with Vera's deep bass lines as Portnoy comes in.They both stop as Arch and Matheos come in reservedly. Not for long ! My God ! It settles again as this contrast continues. It picks up 2 1/2 minutes in as Matheos rips it up. Portnoy is on fire ! Arch is back and this is so moving for me. John sings about being a kid, and brings up his dad. "I remember skipping rocks across the still waters. And I remember chasing colors flying through thin air. And I remember the waters shone my first reflection. I can't forget, always waiting, I was always wishing you were there.You were never there". Thunder 6 1/2 minutes in as Portnoy and Vera shake the soundscape. Arch spits out the lyrics. Amazing vocals 8 1/2 minutes in. Check Matheos out before 10 minutes.

"Cheyenne" is so epic. Synths open the song before acoustic guitar and vocals come in. Keys follow. The chorus just makes a lump in my throat as John sings "Cheyenne I am, I am so far away, can you feel our dreams they are slipping away. Cheyenne I am, I am the sky, the wind, the rain, in my dreams my friend I can see you again". The song kicks in before 3 minutes. Guest violin 4 1/2 minutes in. The vocals a minute later are unbelieveable ! Nice and heavy right here. Check out Portnoy especially before 8 minutes. They are kicking ass again 9 minutes in. It settles 10 1/2 minutes in as we get a sample of a male native speaking some moving words. John follows him up with vocal melodies that are like native chanting. Incredible ! Piano joins in. Gulp. Check out Portnoy and Matheos 13 minutes in as Arch sings with passion. It settles down to end it.

Not worthy ! Arch is my all-time favourite singer and i'm so proud of him with this release on a number of levels. God bless you John Arch.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The former lead singer in Fates Warning John Arch return to music with this EP. Helped out by Jim Matheos ( Fates Warning, OSI) on Guitar and Keyboards, Mike Portnoy ( Dream Theater, Transatlantic..etc) on drums and Joey Vera ( Fates Warning, Engine and Armored Saint) on bass. All very prominent gentlemen and very skilled musicians.

John Arch was the frontman of Fates Warning on their first 3 albums. Fates Warning wasn´t a progressive metal band at that time, at least not to my modern ears. The three first albums were more traditional metal mixed with power metal. John Arch high pitched vocals were always very defining for early Fates Warning as Ray Alder´s voice it it for the second era of Fates Warning.

This EP is a great deal more progressive than the Fates Warning albums John Arch sang on. But the two epic songs this EP consists of are still very much driven by John Arch fabulous voice. That man has got a really impressive voice. The music is really good prog metal too, and it is easy to hear that such brilliant musicians have contributed. Does it sound like Fates Warning ? Not really, surprisingly enough, allthough with three members ( former and present) it´s hard to run away from your roots. And really why should you ?

This is highly recommendable to prog metal fans. Try this one out instead of the thousand mindless Dream Theater clones. If this is the last we will ever hear from John Arch, it will be a nice testimony. If this is not the last we will hear from him, please don´t let 16 years pass before we hear something new ( it´s already been almost 5).

Review by progrules
3 stars I bought this EP because of the high rating so far combined with its progressive metal genre. Just 4 and 5 star ratings so far, then you expect something very special. To be honest, I don't think so. This is not bad, I don't want to exaggerate but to say that we are being treated with these two epical tracks, not really.

The music isn't bad, I have a problem with the vocals. They annoy me slightly and that destroys a lot of the fun. Instrumentally it's a lot better and also the compositions are ok but I expected more on that department as well.

So all in all not a bad effort by John Arch and I wonder what I would have concluded if I would have gone into this one without the foreknowledge. Maybe I just would have been a bit more enthusiastic but I doubt if it would have led to a 4 star rating, I give it three stars (3,3).

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars This is another one I can thank my heavier music-loving kid for introducing me to. I remember Fates Warning from back in the eighties when they were pretty much considered just another metal band, and not a particularly prominent one at that. it seems the band didn’t really take off until after he left in 1987, although I don’t think the two incidents are necessarily related.

Not sure where the guy has been all these years, although I’m sure those familiar with Fates Warning have all the details. No matter, his reemergence on this EP shows the guy hasn’t lost anything in the vocals department. I went back and played a couple of my kid’s early Fates Warning albums just to confirm this, and it’s true. If anything he seems to have developed a bit more control over his voice in the ensuing years since his hiatus.

The lineup is an all-star cast featuring Mike Portney and Fates Warning alumni Jim Matheos and Joey Vera, as well as the very talented Andy Happel on violin and cello. Of the two tracks “Relentless” is the more aggressive and spectacular, although Happel really shines on “Cheyenne” and reminds me a bit of David Ragsdale (Kansas), especially his work guesting on Salem Hill’s ‘Mimi’s Magic Moment’.

Portney is also stunning, and even though I’m not a particularly big fan of either progressive metal or Dream Theater I have to admit the guy is at the top of his craft.

Too bad Arch hasn’t seemed inclined to do more since releasing this five years ago, but it is good to hear him in the studio again and good to know he still has the pipes to pull off a serious and first-rate production. Not essential as far as I’m concerned, but this is an excellent EP and a nice story to boot. Recommended for all metalheads as well as those who appreciate a guy with an incredible range and a strong natural voice.


Review by jampa17
5 stars WARNING!!! this is the fate of prog metal...

How a singer could disappear for that many years and gives this perfect album and then disappear again...??? strange but unique, top of quality, great in between the greatest, this short EP is really what prog-metal is all about... a most have to anyone who enjoys prog metal...

John Arch was the first singer of Fates Warning but was kicked out in early 90's, and he disappear from the musical scene, and until 2003 he comeback with a great idea under his sleeve. He rejoined with the talented and underrated guitarrist Jim Matheos (Fates Warning/O.S.I.), who brings all his prog-metal knowledge in the perfect mood. Joey Vera, also from FW joined this production, so you get what it seems to be a FW 2.0, but the difference is the greatful Mike Portnoy in the drums, who proves once more he is one of the most significant figures in prog in the last 20 years, doing another collab. The mix is perfect. It's not just a FW kind of songs, this are different, much more modern and has a lot of sense, soul and technical abilities... this is what you can expect from the very best musicians of the sub-genre. Portnoy and Matheos rules the album with a lot of different moods and riffing... and the voice of Arch is better than in the earlier days... he is more focus and has not lost the power and range.

These is for those who love or enjoy Dream Theater and Fates Warning, but be aware, this is MUCH MORE than the average prog metal that has saturated the scene in the last years... brilliant music which deserves a better place... com'n... try it... it's just great...

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars A relentless twist on Fates Warning

Oh what a pleasant surprise this one is! John Arch was the original vocalist for the classic Prog Metal band Fates Warning. He provided the lead vocals on that band's first three albums (1984's Night On Bröcken, 1985's The Spectre Within and 1986's Awaken The Guardian) before leaving the position to Ray Alder. To be honest I am not a fan of these early Fates Warning albums and in my opinion they did not take things anywhere beyond what Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden had already done. I greatly prefer the Alder-era of Fates Warning (with such strong albums as Perfect Symmetry, Parallels and A Pleasant Shade Of Gray). The present John Arch solo EP is an entirely different beast though.

As far as I understand, after leaving Fates Warning in the 80's, John Arch retired from the music business altogether only to return with the present EP in 2003 - that's a twist of fate for you right there! For this recording he enlisted fellow Fates Warning alumni Jim Matheos on guitars and Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater on drums and thus created a little Prog Metal super-group.

The EP consists of only two long tracks, but they are both excellent. There still is that Judas Priest/Iron Maiden influence that dominated early Fates Warning, but I also hear some Alder-era Fates Warning and (Images And Words-era) Dream Theater as well as traces of American Symphonic Prog like Neal Morse and Kansas. The latter is especially apparent in the symphonic, 15 minute plus Cheyenne that also features some violin and cello to great effect. There is overall a strong acoustic presence here with acoustic guitars and grand piano. I am also reminded of Ozzy Osbourne a few times (who made some really excellent music in the 80's).

I don't normally give EP's one of the higher ratings, but this one of definitely worth it! Highly recommended!

Review by b_olariu
3 stars John Arch first musical offer under his name is this EP issued in 2003 named a twist of fate. He is helped by his friend and ex band mate from Fates Warning the excellent guitarist Jim Matheos, on drums is the omni present Mike Portnoy and Joy Vera on bass who will become after this album a permanent Fates Warning bassist. A strong line up, almost a second incarnation of Fates Warning, even the musical arrangements and even John Arch voice are very same with FW musical style, the old FW manner. I'm not a particulary fan of JA voice, he is a good singer, but sometimes he is quite irritating here. Only two pieces grace this EP - Relentless and Cheyenne. I'm more fond of the first piece who is a good prog metal tune very much like what Fates Warning done with him behind the mic, around 1986. Jim Matheos is the man behind thsese two pieces, some good guitar chops, the rest are ok but hardly impressive. The second tune is ok, but really nothing special about, I can't see or hear the thrill many reviewers see in this record. Good prog metal and nothing more, keeping in mind that these 4 musicins are among the best in bussnes. 3 stars, the art work and overall package is more intresting then music itself.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Fates Warning are one of my all-time favourite bands, so it should come as no surprise that when their original vocalist, John Arch, returned to the music scene after a 16-year absence and released 'A Twist of Fate', that it was an EP I had to have! I'm not going to deny, prior to hearing thi ... (read more)

Report this review (#1493737) | Posted by martindavey87 | Saturday, November 28, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I don't care that John Arch fell off the face of the earth. I also don't care at all about early Fates Warning (not a fan). I can tell you, totally free of bias, that this is one of the best prog metal albums EVER made. But how can that be? It is only 2 songs and an EP? Just listen once, and I gu ... (read more)

Report this review (#252028) | Posted by pagan97 | Saturday, November 21, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Upon first listen, I was totally taken by this EP, which immediately earned a place up there as one of my favorite prog metal releases. And I'll tell you why: the voice! John Arch's voice is phenomenal, and it's much better on this EP than on the Fates Warning albums he fronted (who'd have thoug ... (read more)

Report this review (#204763) | Posted by Time Signature | Sunday, March 1, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars You've already read the story behind this release in the other reviews, so I'll get straight to what I have to say about this EP. Both of the tracks on this disc occasionally hint at the old Fates Warning sound, which is very welcome after all this time, but on the whole they sound much closer to ... (read more)

Report this review (#186937) | Posted by splyu | Saturday, October 25, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Finally he's back!!! The original voice of Fates warning is back after 17 years. The vocal performance of John Arch in the album "Awaken the Guardian" from Fates Warning is simply amazing and a reference for all progressive metal fans. With the help of two great musicians and friends (Jim Math ... (read more)

Report this review (#109164) | Posted by | Saturday, January 27, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Great music in typical prog metal american vein. Full of temp changes, rythm changes, complicated song structures, agressive guitar riffs, perfect Portnoy´s technical drumming. Ex-Warning J.Arch has created a pure progressive metal music thought only 30min long but with excellent unique singin ... (read more)

Report this review (#105352) | Posted by archivep | Wednesday, January 3, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have been a fan of Arch since Fates Warning, and it's great to hear him again. This solo CD is what Fates Warning would have is like he never left the scene! Lyrics are not as complex, but they make thier point and his vision of what he is saying isclear. The music is great. Math ... (read more)

Report this review (#97290) | Posted by | Monday, November 6, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Freakin outstanding, I'm so glad this was made, its so good to hear john singing again. I seriously hope he does this kind of thing again, his note selection is killer, not your standard melodies, which is one of his best attributes. even if he doesn't join or start another band, i'd love to se ... (read more)

Report this review (#68926) | Posted by | Friday, February 10, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This EP is kind of funny. Arch's voice is almost chronological. He starts off the opening song sounding as if he's getting over a cold... then partway into it, sounds like he's singing "Fata Morgana" once again. He does a great job in his return to the studio, a whole 17 years later. The instr ... (read more)

Report this review (#56348) | Posted by dagrush | Monday, November 14, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The other reviewers have just just about covered every point I was going to make. It is almost as if John's layoff has benefited him, as he did not have the heavy influence present that most bands fall victim to - the one that almost forces you to adapt your style with the current times. A ... (read more)

Report this review (#43860) | Posted by | Monday, August 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars To my taste this is a definitive must have on any progressive collection, this is an album that shows that even after almost 20 years out of the spotlight, John Arch is still one of the best singer/songwriters ever. I just hope he keeps on making music now that he came back. Plus the aweso ... (read more)

Report this review (#42897) | Posted by | Monday, August 15, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is such a treat. John Arch left Fates fans and metal fans wanting more almost 20 years ago now. We expected something else that never came. Truth is, Arch just left music and put himself together a life he could be proud of. But what if... 'A Twist of Fate' is a nice glimpse at maybe a p ... (read more)

Report this review (#30743) | Posted by | Friday, March 18, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is almost as good as it gets! The unique voice of ex Fates Warning vocalist John Arch, combined with the always impeccable and extremely talented drummer Mike Portnoy (the biggest hero in prog metal history!!!), the prog wonder Jim Matheos (who also worked with Mikey on the O.S.I. project ... (read more)

Report this review (#30742) | Posted by | Tuesday, January 4, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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