As the closing notes of Sympathetic Resonance drift away one can only sit back and let the epic experience and sense of the album wash over and through them, and reflect that Arch/Matheos have produced one of the best progressive metal albums of the year if not the very best. The release consists of six tracks spanning almost an hour all formed from the most impressive, dynamic, succinct, and impassioned songwriting and its realisation seen for quite a while.
Arch/Matheos came together in 2010 when composer/guitarist Jim Matheos from Fates Warning teamed up with former Fates Warning and band mate vocalist John Arch. The late eighties, when Arch left Fates Warning, saw him drop out from music apart from his solo EP Twist of Fate which grabbed much acclaim. Since then he has been quiet again but thankfully Matheos with material originally meant for a new Fates Warning release persuaded him to return and Sympathetic Resonance is the resulting glory. Without doubt the album would not be the sensation it is without the lyrical and vocal prowess and extremely accomplished guitar work and songwriting that Arch and Matheos respectively bring to it, their complimentary creativity is a union of quality that comes around rarely.
The duo also enlisted the distinct and strong abilities of bassist Joey Vera (Armored Saint, Anthrax, Fates Warning, Seven Witches), drummer Bobby Jarzombek (Halford, Fates Warning, Sebastian Bach, Riot), and additional lead guitarist Frank Aresti (Fates Warning).The renowned talent and technical skill of all members has resulted in a release that is immense, diverse, instinctively challenging, and some of the best music heard anywhere for months upon months. The focus is going to be on the powerhouse voice of Arch and the unique guitar play and writing skills of Matheos but every member contributes impressively to achieve the final sounds that makes Sympathetic Resonance essential listening for all who enjoy music with defined textures, complex layers, and engaging melodic imagination.
‘Neurotically Wired’ opens the release with eleven minutes of stirring and engaging sounds all riding on an emotive power musically and vocally that will cause envy. Thick velvet riffs and rumbling pulsing basslines play on the ear as the guitars lay potent weaves of inspired and interchanging time signatures, tempos, and intensely unique melodies. The track is an unveiling adventure and emotive tale as it unfolds within the ear and deeper. Arch reminds all instantly why he has been missed and is stronger than ever in skill, delivery and expressive tones.
In comparison bands like the obvious one in Fates Warning, and the likes of Symphony X and Dream Theater are mentioned but Arch/Matheos do stand alone in sound mostly, though one band is brought to mind as a reference as the album progresses, Motherjane. Through the varied lengths of the charismatic melodic fascination of ‘Midnight Serenade’, the vibrant and driving flow of ‘Stained Glass Sky’, through to the closing slower tempo and emotive ‘Incense and Myrrh’ the album is a stunning and expression array of entrancing riffing and alluring harmonies and melodies that inspire. Each track is borne of progressive metal ingenuity that is as memorable after its ending as during, the likes of ‘On the Fence’ and ‘Any Given Day (Strangers Like Me)’ swirling around the senses with a creative hand that stays in the thoughts long after their closure.
Arch/Matheos with Sympathetic Resonance released via Metal Blade Records, have not only produced a classic album that will be the talk of most this year but have also ignited a new flame in a genre that already flows with some intelligent ingenuity. Arch/Matheos have simply added their own imaginative vision of sound and leapt to the forefront of a blossoming scene.