John Arch, A Twist of Fate (Metal Blade Records, 2003)

Custom furniture maker/progressive metal singer John Arch has an unusual story. In the eighties he was the original singer for the group Fates Warning, who've built up and maintained a cult following over the years. But he left the group in 1987, and stayed out of music for fifteen years. In 2002, Fates Warning guitarist Jim Matheos talked Arch out of retirement for long enough to make an EP called A Twist of Fate. Consisting of only two songs but stretching nearly half an hour, A Twist of Fate shows a very distinctive voice covering topics both familiar and unfamiliar to heavy metal audiences.

Joining Arch and Matheos on the record were current Fates Warning bassist Joey Vera and Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy. Despite the length of the songs, the instrumental breaks are relatively brief, and the focus is primarily on Arch's voice. Indeed, his voice (similar, if not superior, to Queensryche's Geoff Tate) is so well-suited to the genre that it's not hard to see why Arch's friends and former bandmates were eager to get him back in the studio. The first song "Relentless" covers themes like childhood disillusionment, maintaining a sense of spirituality when you're surrounded by people who don't practice the morals they would impose on you, and trying to pass some wisdom along to the next generation. "Cheyenne," the more compelling song of the two, was inspired by a picture of a young Cheyenne woman. Arch is part Native American himself, and in this song he seems to be trying to reconnect with a part of him that's been buried for a long time. Both songs are very carefully developed, interspersing quiet parts with loud ones. Perhaps, though, the progressions were a bit too careful and predictable, with a lot of solid parts but nothing really breathtaking.

John Arch has since gone back to his day job. Rumor (in the form of a comment on YouTube) has it that he's been working on new material lately, though. It gives his long-time fans reasons for hope, but I'm sure they've learned not to hold their breath. A Twist of Fate was a quick, fleeting showcase of Arch's considerable talents, but maybe it will eventually lead to something more.

Overall grade: B

reviewed by Scott

part 1 of "Cheyenne"

1 comment:

Erika Lyn said...

John Arch is a Heavy Metal God. His voice is indescribably beautiful. I wish this album had more songs and the thought of John Arch coming out with new material fills me with excitement!!