ARCH / MATHEOS — Winter Ethereal

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ARCH / MATHEOS - Winter Ethereal cover
4.50 | 2 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2019

Tracklist


1. Vermilion Moons (9:06)
2. Wanderlust (5:59)
3. Solitary Man (5:41)
4. Wrath of the Universe (8:23)
5. Tethered (6:11)
6. Straight and Narrow (4:20)
7. Pitch Black Prism (7:06)
8. Never in Your Hands (8:13)
9. Kindred Spirits (13:00)

Total Time 67:59

Line-up/Musicians


- John Arch / vocals
- Jim Matheos / guitars

Session/guest:
- Joe DiBiase / Bass (track 3)
- Mark Zonder / Drums (tracks 2,5)
- Joey Vera / Bass (tracks 2,8)
- Bobby Jarzombek / Drums (tracks 4,6)
- Frank Aresti / Guitar solo (track 8 at 4:29 and 4:56, track 9 at 6:18 and 6:44)
- Baard Kolstad / Drums (track 8)
- Steve DiGiorgio / Bass (tracks 1,4,6)
- Sean Malone / Bass (tracks 7,9)
- Matt Lynch / Drums (track 9)
- Thomas Lang / Drums (tracks 1,3,7)

About this release

Label: Metal Blade
Format: Vinyl, CD, Digital (Smoke Vinyl, Marbled Vinyl)
Release date: May 10, 2019

Official music videos:
- Tethered
- Straight and Narrow

Mixed and mastered at Fascination Street Studios, Örebro, Sweden.

Thanks to siLLy puPPy for the addition and UMUR for the updates

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ARCH / MATHEOS WINTER ETHEREAL reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

UMUR
"Winter Ethereal" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Arch / Matheos. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in May 2019. Arch / Matheos is a project formed by former Fates Warning frontman John Arch and Fates Warning guitarist and main composer Jim Matheos. While Matheos since the early 80s has continuously recorded and toured with Fates Warning (and has released a couple of solos albums and has recorded a couple of OSI albums), Arch had a longer break from the music industry after leaving Fates Warning in 1987. It wasn´t until 2003 that he stuck out his head again, when he released the "A Twist of Fate" EP, which was released under his own name. The EP was created in collaboration with Matheos, and while it didn´t initially mean a comeback to the scene for Arch, the seeds were sown for the Arch / Matheos project.

The project´s debut album "Sympathetic Resonance" was released in 2011 and featured bassist Joey Vera (Fates Warning, Engine, Armored Saint), drummer Bobby Jarzombek (Fates Warning, Halford, Iced Earth) and lead guitarist Frank Aresti (Fates Warning) in addition to Arch on lead vocals and Matheos on guitars. While the three mentioned session musicians are also featured on "Winter Ethereal", the album features quite a few other session bassists and drummers, including former Fates Warning drummer Mark Zonder, former Fates Warning bassist Joe DiBiase, and the omnipresent bassist Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus, Death, Testament, Iced Earth...etc.). With musical capacities like that it´s no surprise that the musicianship on "Winter Ethereal" is exceptionally strong.

The stars of the show are of course Arch and Matheos though. Matheos as always have written some tasteful and quite intricate progressive metal songs and his riffs and sense for rhythm are dynamic, and can be both heavy and loud but also subtle and more sophisticated. Arch is a skilled vocalist with a strong voice and a wide range (although he predominantly sings in a very high register). His long break from the scene has probably meant that there hasn´t been the wear on his voice other singers his age typically experience. He sounds almost exactly as he did in the 80s. His high pitched vocal style, voice, and ornamented vocal lines are probably an aquired taste, but personally my jaw drops every time he opens his mouth and sings. To my ears he is an incredible vocalist with a distinct sounding voice and vocal style. A top tier progressive metal vocalist.

"Winter Ethereal" features 9 tracks and a total playing time of 67:59, so it´s a fairly long album, but it doesn´t really feel that long, as the material are both well written and relatively varied. Highlights include album opener "Vermilion Moons", the power ballad type track "Tethered" (well...power ballad is probably stretching the definitions of that term, but there are some similar features), the short and powerful "Straight and Narrow", and the 13 minutes long closing epic "Kindred Spirits". This is a high quality album through and through though, and there´s not a single sub par track in sight.

"Winter Ethereal" features a powerful and detailed sound production, which suits the material perfectly and upon conclusion it´s a high quality sophomore release by Arch / Matheos and a more than worthy successor to "Sympathetic Resonance (2011)". It´s not often you come across progressive metal releases of this quality, featuring an origial sound and musical style too, and add to that high level musicianship on all posts, this is simply layers upon layers of quality features, which work in perfect balance and symbiosis. A 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.
siLLy puPPy
WINTER is coming. Oh, wait! It has already come! Emerging seemingly from nowhere in 2011, the early Fates Warning pioneers of prog metal, vocalist John ARCH and guitarist Jim MATHEOS took the world by storm after releasing the stunning collaborative effort in the form of “Sympathetic Resonance” under the moniker ARCH / MATHEOS which in many ways found resolution to the long lost continuation of what Fates Warning would have sounded like had they continued well into the 21st century with ARCH’s vocal prowess still in command. With a classic prog metal sound that was clearly crafted for the modern world, the duo constructed six stunning tracks that took the early prog metal attributes of operatic vocals, heavy zigzagging guitar riffs and compositional complexities and married it all with the darker down-tuned realities of the 21st century.

While the project was never to be intended to be a permanent one, the obvious chemistry that was presented begged prog metalheads far and wide to ponder the possibilities of whether there could be the remotest possibility of a second edition to what would provide the next chapter in this project of such technical wizardry coupled with emotional outpourings. Due to other commitments, particularly on the side of MATHEOS who to this day remains a vital member in Fates Warning’s modern prog metal excellence, no pressures were in play but lo and behold eight long years later and the duo has found themselves releasing the long awaited second coming with WINTER ETHEREAL which finds the dynamic duo in cahoots once again with bassist Joey Vera (Fates Warning, Chroma Key), drummer Bobby Jarzombek (Fates Warning, Spastic Ink) and guitarist Frank Aresti.

And this time around even more musicians came to the party which includes ex-Cynic bassist Sean Malone and two additional drummers, Matt Lynch (Trioscapes) and Thomas Lang (John Wetton, Stork, Paul Gilbert, Eric Gillette) as well as Steve Di Giorgio (Death, Testament, Charred Walls Of The Damned) and bassists Joe Dibiase and Mark Zonder. The guitar distortion is turned up to 11 and the musicians were chomping at the bit to unleash a new slab of highly technical metal that takes the ARCH / MATHEOS to the next level. While the Fates Warning comparisons are inevitable, once again this project finds a way to make the music its own despite the clear throwback to the long lost days when progressive metal existed as a mere collaboration between 70s prog rock and 80s classic heavy metal. And best of all, despite the decades that have elapsed, it’s utterly amazing how well Mr. ARCH’s glass shattering vox box has held up. Is this man fucking immortal or what?

WINTER ETHEREAL cranks out nine hard driving prog metal tracks rooted in the previous century but clearly designed for 21st century consumption. A bit longer than the previous one and clocking in at about 108 minutes, this album bursts into the scene with the crushing “Vermillion Moons” which delivers the expected labyrinthine guitar riffs while taking a few breathers with some slower passages. Clearly on display and man of the hour vocalist ARCH shows off his high capacity pipes in an ever daring feat of vocal majesty which never fails throughout the album’s lengthy parade through the progressively imbued compositions that seem to tackle the usual prog metal melodramatic lyrical esoterica in the fullest sonic regalia. Despite the plethora of musicians on board this time, the album comes off as a tightly woven musical experience with all eyes on the prize, that meaning the overall feel of consistency in this high quality musical sector of the prog metal universe.

Perhaps my only complaint of this dynamic powerhouse of unbridled prog metal passion is that despite the army of newbies in its midst, it doesn’t deviate significantly from the majesty of “Sympathetic Resonance,” as the tones, timbres, dynamics and songwriting techniques follow suit in much the same business as usual. Perhaps the creative aspects could’ve shined a bit more instead of making a second installment of album #1 however if a similar approach is what you’ve been salivating over then WINTER ETHEREAL will not disappoint one little bit as it tackles all the prog sophistication and ethereal nuances that the first ARCH / MATHEOS experience delivered so well. While overall i don’t find this to be the perfect prog metal specimen that came before, it is nevertheless a high quality release that finds these elder statesmen of the genre not losing one bit of their musical mojo, in other words - this is some outstanding modern day prog metal delivering ALL the goods.

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