Arch/Matheos – Sympathetic Resonance

I cannot begin to express how excited I was when I heard the news that Fates Warning guitarist Jim Matheos and former Fates Warning singer John Arch were working on a new album together. Other than a two song EP that they collaborated on in 2003 (“A Twist of Fate”) there hasn’t been a single thing from John Arch since Fates Warning’s “Awaken the Guardian” in 1986. If you know your metal history at all then you know “Awaken the Guardian” is a heavy metal classic.

The voice of John Arch instantly transports me back to the 80s and reminds me of the excitement I felt when discovering new bands on the Metal Blade compilations. I got a lot of great music from those - Slayer, Omen, Fates Warning, Hallows Eve, Attacker and Lizzy Borden to name a few. For years it has pained me that a great voice such as John Arch has not remained active in the metal scene. I feel robbed knowing he’s been out there all these years, voice intact, and not performing. That’s his choice of course, but man, when I think of all the albums we could have had…

So when I heard the album was in the works I started climbing the walls with impatience to hear it. Between this album and the new Anthrax with Joey Belladonna I was losing my mind waiting. Time passed, as it will, and finally September 13th rolled around and literally the minute it went on sale on iTunes I snapped up “Sympathetic Resonance”. The waiting may have been hard, but it was well worth getting my hands on this brilliant collaboration.

No offense to Ray Alder, the man has an excellent voice, or to Jim for that matter, but after John was gone Fates Warning started to slowly become less heavy metal and more progressive Dream Theater style metal, which just wasn’t as interesting to me at the time. I liked the first few albums after John, but eventually it just tapered off. “Sympathetic Resonance” sounds to me like a Fate’s Warning album that should have been, somewhere, somehow.

The music on this album probably appeals to prog metal fans, but I think fans of regular ol’ heavy metal should dig it too. John’s vocals are in the higher range and he is one of the only singers from the 80s where that didn’t bug me. I think it sounds natural for John, it’s not forced or affected like so many hair band singers from that time. It’s not that kind of high vocal. His voice is very distinctive; you hear John Arch, you know it is John Arch.

Now, I know Jim is working on a new Fates Warning album, but I really, really, really hope that he and John will not wait another eight years to work together again. Do an album with Fates, do an album with John, back and forth, this could work you know? Again, not looking to oust Ray, but I would piddle like a puppy for a Fates Warning reunion with John, even if it was just a tour. Something to think about eh?