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Arch / Matheos - Sympathetic Resonance CD (album) cover


Arch / Matheos


Progressive Metal

4.08 | 308 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Sympathetic Resonance from Arch / Matheos is an album that will undoubtedly be every Fates Warning fan's wet dream. The lineup consists of all current or former Fates Warning band members, the vocals are performed by none other than the legendary John Arch (this is his first performance behind the mic since 2003), and the songwriting is just as technical, progressive, and memorable - if not even more so - than what we'd expect from a classic Fates Warning album. The musicianship is some of the best you're bound to hear in your lifetime, and John Arch delivers an absolutely stunning performance on Sympathetic Resonance. Even though this album may be overshadowed by some of the bigger prog metal releases in latter 2011, please do not let this masterpiece slip under your radar. This is one of the genre's most impressive albums over the past decade, and an absolutely essential purchase for those who enjoy their prog metal on the heavier and more technical side.

Even though the obvious stylistic comparison to make here would be Fates Warning, there are some noticeable differences that assure that Jon Arch and Jim Matheos are not focused on creating a clone of their other band (or, in Arch's case, his former band). The music here is extremely heavy (not in an extreme sense, but more in terms of the sheer heaviness of the riffs), complex, and technical progressive metal, somewhat in the same vein of Perfect Symmetry-era Fates Warning. The power metal-influenced sound of Jon Arch-era Fates Warning is seldom found here, and the lengthy and complex compositions also don't bear a whole lot of resemblance to the Ray Alder period of the band either. The complete lack of keyboards also shows that Arch / Matheos are entirely dedicated to creating progressive metal as it was originally intended in the late eighties - complex and technical indeed, but first and foremost, metal!

As far as I'm concerned, Sympathetic Resonance's biggest similarity to Fates Warning is in terms of quality. The sheer standard of the compositions and musicianship here is impeccable, and in that sense, I'm frequently reminded of Fates Warning's multiple top-notch masterpieces. Make no mistakes - Sympathetic Resonance is some of the finest progressive metal music in existence played by some of the most impressive musicians in the scene. I don't think it gets much better than that! Songs like "Neurotically Wired" (this one is especially excellent), "Stained Glass Sky", and "On the Fence" are all bound to be regarded as prog metal classics in ten or twenty years, but I'd hope that the entire album is recognized as one of the most impressive efforts from this decade.

The songwriting is excellent across the board, but it's the convincing execution, powerful delivery, and outstanding production that ultimately make Sympathetic Resonance an utter masterpiece. John Arch delivers one of the most impressive vocal performances of his career here (which is saying quite a lot), and his ability to hit high falsettos and still sound pitch-perfect and melodic is admirable. For a man in his fifties, the performance on Sympathetic Resonance is almost unheard of - surely the perfect testament to his abilities as one of prog metal's finest vocalists. Of course, the guitar playing from Jim Matheos is always polished and distinct; he's one of the most unique (yet somehow underrated) guitarists in all of metal. Bobby Jarbozmek's jazzy and technically insane drum patterns always keep the listener on their toes, and the expressive bass playing from Joey Vera sets a strong foundation for all of the compositions. Frank Aresti (of Fates Warning) also contributes a few additional lead guitar parts. A lineup to be remembered for ages to come? You bet!

It's also worth noting (at least briefly) what an excellent production that Sympathetic Resonance has. The sound is extremely sleek and clean, and entirely void of modern gimmicks and trivial effects. Everything sounds very authentic and "real", and the mix is absolutely spot-on. There are times where it feels like you are sitting in the rehearsal room when listening to this album with a nice pair of headphones.

It may seem like I have endless praises for Sympathetic Resonance, and I guess that really is the case. The lengthy and technical compositions may demand a few initial spins to "sink in", but they eventually reveal themselves as some of the best progressive heavy metal in recent memory. Arch / Matheos have crafted a legendary soon-to-be classic with Sympathetic Resonance, and I can only hope for even more masterpieces from this project in the approaching years. There may be tons of other prog metal albums out there this year, but this one is mandatory listening for any fan of the genre. 5 stars and the "essential masterpiece" stamp are very well earned. Mark up yet another masterpiece with John Arch and Jim Matheos in the lineup!

J-Man | 5/5 |


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