Wednesday, October 19, 2011

John Arch

Can a single song make you a legend? In some instances, yes. As long as you define legend within a particular community.

Perhaps some of you have heard of the band Fates Warning. Back in the mid-eighties, they were the definition of progressive metal. They were Dream Theater before there was Dream Theater. With one EP and two full length albums, aptly titled The Spectre Within and Awaken the Guardian, they had solidified themselves within a niche and they had no equal.

Their vocalist was extremely talented and also extremely unique. You either loved his style or you didn't. I fell into the former category and the song that sealed it for me was the one that sealed it for many others too. The track Guardian from Awaken the Guardian remains a song that will forever have a place in my heart and soul as sheer metal genius. Here it is:

Inexplicable, at least to me, Fates Warning changed vocalists after Awaken the Guardian. Not that I disliked John Arch's replacement, it was still with some disappointment that I'd not hear more sweeping, melodic vocals from him. Ray Alder proved to be excellent in his own right, but the distinctive timbre of John Arch was gone.

As a reference, here's the first single from Fates Warning's No Exit album featuring Ray on vocals. It's good, but it's different.

Fast forward 25 years. After an EP called Twist of Fate in 2003, John Arch has once again rejoined most of the members of early Fates Warning and released Sympathetic Resonance with Jim Matheos. I immediately purchased it upon hearing the familiar vocals. It's like John Arch never left.