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Arch/Matheos - Winter Ethereal

Arch/Matheos
Winter Ethereal
by Martin Knap at 03 June 2019, 10:25 PM

FATES WARNING is one of the finest US Power-Prog bands and is easily in my top-five most favorite Prog-Metal bands. Like other greats of Prog such as SYMPHONY X or THRESHOLD they write songs that are complex but also impactful. In other words, they don’t sacrifice emotions in their music for technicality and showmanship. It is also a band that ages like fine wine, their output in the 90s of early 2000s is to me just as good as their early era, and as far as I know they haven’t released a dud. ARCH/MATHEOS is a collaborative project between FATES WARNING’s two founding members – their current lead guitarist Jim Matheos and their former lead singer John Arch, who left the band due to personal reasons after the release of the Prog classic “Awaken the Guardian”. Matheos and Arch got back together in the early 2003 when they released an EP under John Arch’s name, later they re-emerged as ARCH/MATHEOS and released one full-length album titled “Sympathetic Resonance” in 2011.

Winter Ethereal” has been long in the making, which is understandable, given Matheos’ other commitments – FATES WARNING released “Theories of Flight” not so long ago (an absolute killer of an album that was one of 2016’s highlight for me), and of course they have a busy touring schedule. In terms of their sound the two bands are quite similar if we look at their most recent output. That being said “Theories of Flight” had more of shorter, streamlined songs on it, not that “Winter Ethereal” hasn’t any shorter songs, but the ratio of longer, more complex songs to shorter ones is larger here. The complexity of the song structures complements John Arch’s very unique vocal style, which is melodically intricate but not at the expense of impactful hooks. His singing has a kind of verve that really makes him stand out.

The music is rich in atmosphere, it can be dark, almost gloomy, but there are uplifting moments as well. The songs shift between energetic, riffy phrases and emotional, sorrowful ones, here and there we atmospheric breaks of fleshy guitar soloing; heavy riffs and ominous atmospherics are also not absent on the record. The songwriting is dynamic, but leaves space for the melodies and hooks to shine. The longer songs such as the opener “Vermillion Moons” have compositional shifts that complement the previous melodies and atmosphere – there is a nice sense of flow and development, not of aimless meandering. In terms of quality the songs are pretty even, both the singles that were chosen from this album – the beautiful ballad “Tethered,” that could fit into “Theories of Flight” without a bigger problem, and the energetic rocker “Straight and Narrow” – are really memorable and impactful, and do stand out, but the album doesn’t have any weak songs on it.

Winter Ethereal” is a strong release, form the songwriting to execution, I will say though that “Theories of Flight” was a bit more memorable for me. But all in all, this is a great display of musicianship that will be appreciated not only by diehard FATES WARNING fans.

Songwriting: 8
Memorability: 7
Originality: 8
Production: 8




4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Vermilion Moons
2. Wanderlust
3. Solitary Man
4. Wrath of the Universe
5. Tethered
6. Straight and Narrow
7. Pitch Black Prism
8. Never in Your Hands
9. Kindred Spirits

Lineup:
Jim Matheos - Guitars, Songwriting
John Arch - Vocals, Songwriting, Lyrics
+ Guest/Session

Record Label: Metal Blade Records
     


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