"Sympathetic Resonance" is the debut full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Arch / Matheos. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in September 2011. Arch / Matheos is a project formed by former Fates Warning frontman John Arch and Fates Warning guitarist and main composer Jim Matheos. After John Arch left Fates Warning in 1987, little has since been heard from the singer. The 2003 "A Twist of Fate" EP, which was released under his own name, and which was also created in collaboration with Jim Matheos, didn´t result in a comeback to the scene. It did however signal that John Arch wasn´t completely through with music and when he was approached by Jim Matheos, who had written songs for a new project, his interest was ignited and the two of them started sending music files to each other. Matheos would send his compositions to Arch, and Arch would write melody lines and lyrics to go along with the compositions. When it came to recording the album they enlisted a couple of prolific and greatly skilled musicians to record the bass, drum and lead guitar parts in bassist Joey Vera (Fates Warning, Engine, Armored Saint), drummer Bobby Jarzombek (Fates Warning, Halford, Iced Earth) and lead guitarist Frank Aresti (Fates Warning).
The music on the album is guitar driven progressive metal rooted in the eighties progressive metal movement (before keyboards became an integrated part of most progressive metal music). With all musicians involved being related to Fates Warning, it´s impossible not to think of this album in relation to that band and especially the early John Arch-led releases, but ultimately "Sympathetic Resonance" doesn´t sound like neither that era or later Fates Warning eras. I think the Arch / Matheos have succeeded in finding a good balance between recognisable elements from their Fates Warning past (and for some present) and an original sound.
The riffs are dark and heavy, the rythm section provide complex and powerful playing and John Arch signature high pitched and nasal vocal delivery is the icing on the cake. The latter´s vocal melody lines are amazing to say the least. Not only is he one of the most powerful and distinct sounding vocalist in metal, his way of writing melody lines is brilliant too. Lots of twists and turns delivered with great conviction.
The 6 tracks on the album are structurally (for the most part) really complex. Especially the three longest tracks on the album, "Neurotically Wired", "Stained Glass Sky" and "Any Given Day (Strangers Like Me)", are really complex, going through multible sections and atmospheres. That´s why it´s also a great for the dynamics of the album that the band include relatively more "simple" and direct tracks like "Midnight Serenade" and "Incense and Myrrh". While the former is a powerful progressive metal track the latter is a beautiful ballad, that closes the album in great style. The dark and heavy "On the Fence" is probably the least remarkable track on the album, but it says a lot about the quality of the rest of the material, when a fantastic track like "On the Fence" is pulled out as an example of a slight decline in quality. And mind you I´m saying a slight decline.
"Sympathetic Resonance" is simply through and through a fantastic progressive metal release to fans of guitar driven progressive metal. We´re talking top notch musicianship, a warm and powerful sound production and outstanding songwriting. To my ears progressive metal doesn´t come better than this. "Sympathetic Resonance" is a born classic in the genre and fully deserves a 5 star (100%) rating.