Arch / Matheos – Sympathetic Resonance

Rewind back a pair of decades, back to the time around the release of US progressive metal act Fate’s Warning’s third album, ‘Awaken The Guardian’. Unable to pay his bills with the band income alone, singer John Arch was working hard with a dayjob to make ends meet. On top of that, he had a band pressuring him to choose one or the other. At that, he was forced to leave the band, and Fate’s Warning then found a new vocalist in the form of Ray Alder. After that, Arch stayed out of the music scene for the better part of two decades, until a two song bout of musical inspiration gave in the form of a solo EP, ‘A Twist Of Fate’. If that was any indicator, it was true that the man who led Fate’s Warning through their early work still had the pipes to hold his own quite brilliantly. With this and better conditions for making music, John Arch and Fate’s Warning guitarist Jim Matheos have teamed up together once again to make music. The outcome of this collaboration is the album ‘Sympathetic Resonance’.

Despite more or less having the Fate’s Warning lineup intact (with the obvious exception of the replaced vocalist), the name Arch/Matheos has been used in order to keep away any assumptions that John Arch is replacing the replacer; Ray Alder is still the vocalist of Fate’s Warning, and scheduled to record with the rest of the band on an upcoming 2012 release. These technicalities aside, ‘Sympathetic Resonance’ may as well be considered a Fate’s Warning album, and perhaps the best one to come along in some time. With Matheos’ aggressive style of playing and signature sound of Fate’s Warning once again paired with the haunting acrobatic vocals of Arch, this sounds quite familiar. Musically, this is virtually everything I might expect from a Fate’s Warning album; dark atmosphere, and some of the best musicianship that the genre of progressive metal has to offer. In particular, Bobby Jarzombek’s skills at the drums are immense, and there are plenty of flourishes that each band member gives to the performance to make things sound all the more intense. The songwriting contrasts dark acoustics with thrashy technical displays; things sometimes feel chaotic, but it is controlled. Of special note are the melodies employed here, which are pleasantly challenging to decipher at first.

Perhaps of greatest interest is the performance of John Arch himself, the reason why this cannot be considered a Fate’s Warning album. Without beating around the semantic bush, his performance is pretty incredible. Despite now creeping into the depths of middle-age, the man’s voice has not aged a year, hitting even the high notes with beautiful precision. He is also able to pull off fairly complex passages with relative ease, and dare I say; I really prefer John Arch’s performance here to anything Ray Alder has done. That is not to offend the excellent work of Alder, but I do get the impression that this will surely spark up debates around who is the better vocalist. I really get an impression here of a married man leaving for a high school reunion and hooking back up with his high school sweetheart. The wife may be very good for him, but there may also be reason to be jealous.

With the exception of the lyrics- which seem to tug at any cliche they can grab at- Arch/Matheos is a very exciting project that has made an excellent album here with ‘Sympathetic Resonance’. It is none too different from Fate’s Warning, but perhaps that is a good thing. In any case, while I do hope that Fates Warning stays the way it already is, I would love to hear more of this partnership. For one, it’s helped re-ignite my love of progressive metal.


1. Neurotically Wired (11:12)
2. Midnight Serenade (5:27)
3. Stained Glass Sky (13:56)
4. On the Fence (8:11)
5. Any Given Day (Strangers Like Me) (10:27)
6. Incense and Myrrh (5:22)


* John Arch – vocals
* Jim Matheos – guitars
* Joey Vera – bass
* Bobby Jarzombek – drums
* Frank Aresti – additional lead guitar


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