|Review: Arch/Matheos - Winter Ethereal|
Label: Metal Blade Records
Year released: 2019
Genre: Progressive Metal
Review online: May 4, 2019
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Rated 4.67/5 (93.33%) (3 Votes)
Eight years after founding Fates Warning members John Arch (vocals) and Jim Matheos (guitars) gave us the superlative Sympathetic Resonance, they are back with their second full-length, Winter Ethereal. If you heard the advanced single "Straight and Narrow" and wondered, as did I, if the straightforward riffing on that track was a sign that the rich, progressive The Spectre Within/Awaken the Guardian Fates Warning sound so faithfully continued on Sympathetic Resonance was being left behind, have no fear. Winter Ethereal will not disappoint.
Opening with the lyrically titled "Vermillion Moon", a perfectly varied track with which to start the album, it then shifts to the monstrously infectious "Wanderlust" and a host of other songs featuring Arch's unique and captivating vocal lines and Matheos' bright, layered guitar work. "Straight and Narrow" is admittedly the most accessible thing Arch/Matheos (or the original Fates Warning for that matter) have done but we're not talking Motley Crue here. The riff is simple and direct, but the lead work is sharp and while Arch is slightly more in your face, he still slithers around the melody without drifting out of tune in a way few others could. "Pitch Black Prism" brings all the progressive power of the band back into focus and is my favorite cut. I find the closing tracks "Never in Your Hands" and "Kindred Spirits" overlong and unable to maintain my interest over their respective eight- and thirteen-minute lengths, though I'd still take them over most other progressive metal songs out there.
There you have it; if you enjoyed Sympathetic Resonance, there's no way you won't enjoy Winter Ethereal. It maintains the core sound that stretches back to early '80s Fates Warning but tinkers enough with the formula and pushes a boundary here and there and that keeps it fresh. A little long, perhaps, but fresh. The masters of progressive metal have added another amazing album to a canon already crowded with them.
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|Review: Sympathetic Resonance (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)|
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