Archetype, the word, implies the perfect example. Archetype, the band, falls a tad short of its lofty name – but not too far short. Combining the more melodic speed-metal elements of Metallica and Megadeth with some of the progressive influences from the likes of early Queensryche and Iced Earth, this Ohio-based quartet displays muscle, intelligence and confidence on Dawning, their full-length debut. Originally conceived as an instrumental trio, Archetype eventually hooked up with singer Greg Wagner, whose strong voice (which is prone to a death-metal growl or a banshee scream here and there) helped turn the band into an extremely tight and capable metal outfit that transcends genres.
Dawning is full of complex songs downtuned a half-step and laced with plenty of thought-provoking lyrics. (Sample line: “Contemplate, eviscerate/The mind and the body are one/Futurize, fantasize/The power of thought has become,” from “Visionary.”) No track clocks in at less than four minutes, and most of them are longer than six minutes. The finale, “Years Ago,” spans almost 13 minutes and features a rousing guest vocal by Nicole Tournat to complement Wagner’s expansive performance. The intricacies of such tracks as “Dissension’s Wake,” “Hands of Time” and “The Mind’s Eye” will appeal to metal fans of all genres, while the scorching “Inside Your Dreams” traverses many musical moods, and “Arisen” charms with its acoustic melodies. Guitarist Chris Matyus covers his entire fret board during the course of this record, and the rhythm section of bass player Jamie Still and drummer Keith Zeigler is as good as those in better-known progressive/power metal groups.
The heartland of America is about the last place you’d expect to find a band of Archetype’s ilk and caliber. But with Dawning, these guys have proven they can compete with Europe’s big boys.