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Defeated my initial disappointment - 95%

TexanCycoThrasher, January 24th, 2012

A little over a year ago I was digging through a pile of CDs at a flea market, 3rd rate groove metal shit from around 2000 to 2004, I’d picked through this pile many times occasionally excavating a gem, Syrinx’s “Crystal Ciffs”, Deteriorot’s “In Ancient Beliefs” and Nuclear Assault’s “Alive Again” to name a few. But one nasty, festering, Texas summer afternoon I happened upon John Arch’s “A Twist In Fate” EP. Immediately recognizing the name as the legendary voice behind the early masterpieces Fates Warning churned out in the eighties I purchased the disk for a mere fifty cents.

As customary procedure when I initiate a new CD into my collection, I inspect the booklet that comes with the CD, read lyrics, check the cast and crew of the music I am about to hear. The line-up was one that set me to drooling; John Arch on vocals (“First time since ‘Awaken the Guardian’!” the booklet proudly professed), Jim Mathos covering guitars and keys, Joey Vera on bass, and Mike Portnoy covering drums. This was one of those dream team line-ups that every prog fan imagined in their heads at night, just thinking about that brought thoughts into my brain that what I may just soon be hearing maybe something like the bastard son of Dream Theater and Fates Warning, or at the very least something like Trans-Atlantic.

When I put the CD in and played through the two tracks, I was rather dumbfounded at first. Musically the EP was something like Dream Theater, probably Octavarium era Dream Theater to be precise. I wasn’t disappointed, no, the music was top notch, tight as a drum and Arch, he sounded wonderful, much like Michael Kiske it seemed that as they age their voices age like fine wine. But what caught me off guard was in the musicianship, there sat behind John Arch, an incredible team of musicians, all talented in their own right but in this were no solos, room for jamming by the rest of the band. Now looking back to this, I do realize that it is a project titled “John Arch” so therefore the man is going to sing, and sing and sing. But somehow deep inside of me I had expected that there would be more room for the rest of the instruments to breathe.

But after my initial confusion with this record I spun it on occasion, letting the music sink in. And while not being the monster prog jam that I had expected the EP has some lasting value, John sings his heart out on this, weaving catchy, lasting melodies over the two epics the four men have constructed. Both songs have a great sense of progressive rock build, letting the tension and pressure accumulate and allowing it finally explode at the end. As far as the individual tracks go, the opener “Relentless” is by far the better of the two tracks. As I have previously stated the sound of this EP greatly resembles the sound of Dream Theater’s “Octavarium”; “Relentless” mirrors the title track of the 2005 Dream Theater release pretty well, this is not a bad thing in any sense seeing as both tracks are utterly phenomenal (and “Relentless” has a vocalist who can still sing…). “Cheyenne” the second song is more on the symphonic side of things, taking a rather Symphony X, keyboard happy approach to it, but like “Relentless” once the build has completed and exploded it takes to the Dream Theater-esc prog.

Despite the fact that my initial reaction was that of confusion, over the time that I’ve listened to this EP, I have come to enjoy it, while the fact that it is a good release in the end it is far too short. It does make me happy to hear that eight years after this, Arch and Mathos have once more teamed up to play some good old prog metal this time toting along another crazy good line-up. I’ve yet to hear this new album, and maybe I will one day…when I have money, but until then, this EP will have to satiate my rabid desires.