Arch/Matheos – ‘Winter Ethereal’ Album Review

Arch/Matheos – ‘Winter Ethereal’

Album Review By Adam McCann

Metal Blade Records/Progressive Metal

When it was announced that John Arch and Jim Matheos were once again working together to follow up their superb 2011 album ‘Sympathetic Resonance’, the world of progressive metal was buzzing with excitement. But, when Arch and Matheos announced that the current Fates Warning rhythm section would be joining them for their latest release ‘Winter Ethereal’, the prog metal world threatening to boil over entirely.

To even equal ‘Sympathetic Resonance’ would be a feat of musical prowess, that album was one, if not the best progressive metal album of 2011, but with ‘Winter Ethereal’, Arch/Matheos come exceptionally close. This album is another excellent slab of 80’s style progressive metal from the brainchilds which brought the metal world ‘Awaken The Guardian’. The voice of John Arch has always been somewhat of an acquired taste, but for those who appreciate that soaring voice will find that age has done little to tarnish those pipes. Obviously, this album will appeal to fans of Fates Warning and John Arch’s solo work, but also there is something here for fans of Queensrÿche, Dream Theater and even Redemption and Image Beyond with tracks such as the opening epic ‘Vermilion Moons’, ‘Tethered’ and ‘Solitary Man’ standing tall against the album’s closing track ‘Kindred Spirits’, a song which is a tour de force of time signatures and lyrical ingenuity that powers the album home. In fact, with each listen of ‘Winter Ethereal’ it is possible to find something new and interesting, little segments of work which creep out and remind the listener just how integral this cast was at helping shape the genre within its formative years.

Ultimately, ‘Winter Ethereal’ may fall just short of its predecessor, but that does not make this album any short of fantastic and in an era when progressive metal often takes on increasingly more djent and technical death metal influences, this album is a breath of fresh air that can take on any modern prog metal album and come out on top.

Rating : 86/100

MHF Magazine/Adam McCann