CD review ARCH/MATHEOS ‘Winter Ethereal’

(10/10) What‘s better on a one hour flight than to bridge time by listening to the new album of legendary John Arch and Jim Matheos. It became one of the best flights for me.

Everybody, being a fan of Heavy Metal, is familiar with these two name, both being the core of the early Fates Warning with Matheos still being a strong driving force of the iconic US Metal powerhouse. Once in a while he teams–up with John Arch and both recorded with ‚Sympathic Resonance‘ an album that was a delight for any metalhead.

After such a successful re–start of collaboration the Metal community was excitedly looking forward to some new material of the two musicians. Finally the wait is over and eight years after ‚debuting‘ the highly anticipated next longplayer is ready to be shipped to the record stores.

‚Winter Ethereal‘ is an album that‘s done with a mind-set of pleasure before pressure. Not pushing themselves into a corner, driven by high expectations of the outside world, the two guys worked on their second release in a way that quality was the decisive factor. Without any pressure the duo started to work on songs that reflect an ease that‘s not very usual these days. The result of this approach proves Arch and Matheos right.

The new album opens with a nine minutes epos entitled ‚Vermilion Moons‘. Matheos exquisite guitar play lays a foundation on which Arch‘s vocals can shine. The starter reflects a certain Fates Warning vibe by still being different and not comparable.

To not being too close to Matheos‘ mothership the duo also took another approach when it comes to musicians working with them in the recording session. Was it the fellow Fates Warning members that created a sound base for the debut it‘s various musicians that supported the duo in realising their newest Metal strike.

‚Wanderlust‘, a song that has been unveiled earlier, continues the musical firework in which vocals and guitars harmonise each other perfectly rather than competing for the win. The win is the entire song and in this sense fans of well–crafted Heavy Metal. The beauty with each of the songs on this album is that fact that they are demanding, multi-layered and still easy to listen to. Closing the eyes and enjoying each tone of songs like ‚Solitary Man‘ and the epical ‚Wrath of the Universe‘ is the best way of getting into these masterpieces.

‚Winter Ethereal‘ is a carrier of songs that can be listened to over and over again. Although the tunes stick right away it‘s the details and twists in songs like ‘Tethered‘ that provides a long-lasting joy.

A highlight on the longplayer is for sure the uptempo smasher ‚Straight and Narrow‘, a four minutes track with a blistering solo part. It‘s the moment when the duo boils down everything to the essence. Furthermore the album features with ‘Never in Your Hands‘ a heavy pounding metal anthem before the calmer intro of ‚Kindred Spirits‘ rings in the final chapter of Arch/Matheos second masterpiece. This 12 minutes epos slowly builds up to a monster track that can be seen as the glorious summary of everything heard before. ‚Winter Ethereal‘ is definitely one of the best albums in 2019. It sets the bar for others longplayers to compete with. This longplayer is a MUST.


(10/10)

Tracklist:

  1. Vermilion Moons
  2. Wanderlust
  3. Solitary Man
  4. Wrath of the Universe
  5. Tethered
  6. Straight and Narrow
  7. Pitch Black Prism
  8. Never in Your Hands
  9. Kindred Spirits

Label: Metal Blade

Genre: Progressive US Metal

Release Date EU: May 10th, 2019

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