Sunday, December 25, 2011

12 Days of Christmetal: Sympathetic Resonance - Arch/Matheos - 2011

I don't know Fates Warning beyond recognition of their name and do not believe I have ever knowingly heard any work of Jim Matheos or John Arch prior to grabbing Sympathetic Resonance earlier this year. I know I need to check out some of their mid-80s work and hope to resolve that gap on the shelf after the Christmas coffers have been replenished. I have been enjoying Sympathetic Resonance since Autumn and, while it didn't rank in my Top Ten for 2011, it is a solid - and very heavy - progressive metal record worthy of addition to the library of any fan of Rush, Dream Theater, Yes or the recent offerings from Cormorant or Opeth.

Prior to purchase I had read of listeners unhappy with John Arch's vocals but I found them to be perfectly listenable with an impressive range to boot - and certainly a good foil for the guitar architecture of Jim Matheos, whose body of work I now absolutely need to hear. I was also immediately taken with the percussion of Bobby Jarzombek (who I do know from the marvelous Demons & Wizards project as well as the Halford records) and it is not often I am much affected by the "tone" of drums but, in the case of Sympathetic Resonance, the man again distinguishes himself from his peers. Add in solos from Frank Aresti (OK, I really need to find some Fates Warning) and this record is a modern prog lover's dream come true. There are no keyboards to be found - just riffs, riffs, riffs, shifting tempos and sick leads all amounting to rock polished to a razor-sharp intensity. The lyric is intelligent though veers toward stereotypical prog pomposity but, really, the words are just a vehicle for the great Arch vocals. Sympathetic Resonance is great, technically-impressive prog with a hefty heart of metal and, top ten or not, one of the best records I heard in 2011.

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