New progressive metal band Arch/Matheos has some well-known and well-travelled members, to say the least. Featuring John Arch (former vocalist of Fates Warning) and Jim Matheos (current Fates Warning member), you know the progressive metal chops are up to par. Also included in the mix are bassist Joey Vera (also of Fates Warning and Armored Saint), drummer Bobby Jarzombek (Halford, Sebastian Bach and Fates Warning), and guitarist Frank Aresti (former member of Fates Warning).
Fates Warning is considered one of the forerunners of the American progressive-metal movement. Together with bands like Dream Theater, the Connecticut-based rockers shoved the complex structure of prog into the public consciousness.
Arch/Matheos heads in the same direction but takes a more convoluted route, tossing two of the original members of Fates Warning in with some of the new members to create a sound that is theatrical, complex and sometimes very silly.
Their debut is filled with material that Matheos claims was set for the next Fates Warning record. Matheos took the material to Arch after it was apparent that Fates Warning vocalist Ray Alder wasn’t ready for a new album yet. Originally intended as an EP, the project grew into the 55-minute sprawler that is Sympathetic Resonance.
The first thing most people will probably notice is the high frequency and high dramatic value of Arch’s vocals. He climbs above the multifarious, melodious lattice of guitars with expert skill, reaching and posing with the best of them. His lyrics have the earnestness of old men telling tales in ancient times by firelight, but there’s also something preposterous about the whole thing that’s hard to ignore.
In many circles, the music of Sympathetic Resonance is taken with the utmost solemnity. And there’s no questioning the technical aptitude of Arch/Matheos or the power of the music: it is truly thunderous stuff.
But where the thunder stops is with its blissfully over-the-top lyrics and vocals. Arch/Matheos is certainly capable sonically, delivering the goods through the often-shifting “Neurotically Wired” while Arch earns the song’s title with a set that hikes through a number of diverse tempos and pathways with the energy of a singer half his age. It’s all so hammy that it’s somewhat genius.
More of the same follows on cuts like “Stained Glass Sky,” where Arch packs more lyrics than needed into the potent arrangement. Again, though, the band walks the line so well that nothing ever feels unbalanced. Matheos’ guitar winds and spits with precision, wrapping itself around Arch’s vocals like the perfect duet partner. The ever-shifting time signatures keep the piece raging.
Fans of progressive metal won’t need me or anyone else to sell them on Arch/Matheos. Probably classified as a prog supergroup, if there is such a thing, their aptly-titled Sympathetic Resonance springs with all the mass and stewed awesomeness of the genre.