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Arch, John: A Twist of Fate

My mid-year pick for the most unexpectedly awesome album of 2003 goes to this two-track, 28-minute progressive-metal tour-de-force from a guy I had completely forgotten about. A Twist of Fate finds original Fates Warning singer John Arch jamming with Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy and current Fates Warning guitarist and bassist Jim Matheos and Joey Vera. You wouldn't know it, judging from Arch's distinct voice in fine high-range form here that the man's been away from the music industry since departing Fates Warning after the release of the seminal prog-metal band's Awaken the Guardian in 1987.

Originally pegged for the ethereal OSI project featuring Matheos, Portnoy and Chroma Key keyboardist Kevin Moore, Arch declined opting to write new material and work his voice back into shape for a future project. Fast-forward to A Twist of Fate, the album that sounds like what many fans no doubt expected of OSI's Office of Strategic Influence. The songs here represent the music Arch feels most comfortable sharing with fans who've been clamoring for the man's return. "Relentless" (written in collaboration with Matheos) and "Cheyenne" pull elements from classic Fates Warning and Dream Theater without freely pilfering from either band or managing to sound retro. Several signature changes and musical moods not to mention stellar playing complement the lyrical content, which Arch says he culled from his life's experiences during the past one-and-a-half decades.

Thought-provoking cover art and insightful liner notes that trace the project from impetus to completion enhance this package. In a perfect world, "Relentless" and "Cheyenne" would bookend a handful of shorter songs on a killer John Arch solo album. For now, though, we have A Twist of Fate a tasty indication of the possibilities existing in a genre that's still tapping into the unexpected.

Added: June 18th 2003
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Metal Blade Records
Hits: 4468
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Arch, John: A Twist of Fate
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-04-13 19:13:40
My Score:

After recording Fates Warning's excellent album Awaken the Guardian, singer John Arch decided to take a break, which unfortunately was a bit of a too long an absence. Many vocalists in the genre have come and gone after Arch, but few, VERY few, of them have had the same impact. John Arch simply has an icon status in prog metal, and he deserves every bit of it.

When I first learned that Arch had finally decided to make a return with this two-track EP, everything in my life took a second seat as I played this brilliant CD the first 15-20 times. I didn't know how to feel; should I be filled with joy that Arch is still one of the greatests singers in any genre of metal ever or regret that we had to miss out on him the past two decades? Unlike most of his contemporaries like Geoff Tate from Queensryche or Midnight from Crimson Glory, John's voice is still at its best, and I just can't believe this guy hasn't sung professionlly since the mid-80's. How is it even possible to keep your voice in such good shape despite all these years that have passed? I am now fully convinced that John Arch was made to sing forever... his amazing voice is surely one
of the most influential voices ever. Period.

Don't be put off by the number of tracks on this EP. Although there are only two songs on A Twist of Fate, we get a running time of nearly 30 minutes. The first track clocks in at over 12 minutes and was co-written by Arch and his former bandmate Jim Matheos, thus
displaying Arch's proggy roots. We are offered his unbelievable scream right off the bat which puts a smile on our faces reminding us of the old days. After Arch, there have been countless singers that emerged with a high vocal range. Many of them are able to hold their voice too long and scream their lungs out. But NONE of them can scream so melodically as Arch. And I mean it: there is NO other singer that can wail at the top of his voice and still manage to catch your ear with the strongest melodies dripping. That is how John delivers "Relentless" with lots of key and tempo changes as well as fantastic musicianship backing him up. The song is slightly reminiscent of Fates Warning though more with Arch's vocals being the centrepiece. And that's cool since this is John Arch; not Fates Warning or Dream Theater or another band for that matter. It feel more like his work too.

While writing these songs, Arch must have focused his power on turning his dreams into reality. It's like he too missed his fans and wanted to give them his all. The second track "Cheyenne" is a 100% John Arch creation and relies more on vocals. The music takes a back seat during some moments and here John does everything he did back 20 years ago. Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater proves to be a stunning drummer. He uses
his hands more than his feet this time giving the songs a more concise touch. Hopefully a full-length album will follow this soon. At least we know it won't take another 17 years.

» Reader Comments:

Arch, John: A Twist of Fate
Posted by Michael on 2006-11-06 00:19:32
My Score:

I have been a fan of Arch since Fates Warning, and it's great to hear him again. This solo CD is what Fates Warning would have is like he never left the scene! Lyrics are not as complex, but they make thier point and his vision of what he is saying is clear. The music is great. Matheos did a great job....but the vocals!! Damn....I very, very much hope Mr. Arch makes another CD or EP. This is a must CD to have. No Joke!!!!!

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