John Arch was the original singer for the progressive metal band Fates Warning, leaving the group for a more practical career after only three albums. That's all he's done, that's all he's known for. Three albums in the mid-80's and no one had heard anything from him for almost 20 years. That all changed in 2003 (I know I'm a little bit outdated here) when he approached Mike Portnoy (of Dream Theater fame) for his help for a project he was working on. Arch also collected the guitar section of Fates Warning - Jim Matheos (Guitar/Keyboard) and Joey Vera (Bass) - to assist him in this endeavor. What was eventually released was a two-song 30 minute EP of amazing progressive music. It is really quite amazing.
Having not heard a lot of early Fates Warning, A Twist of Fate was my first example of John Arch's musical style, and I have to say that I am a fan! For a man who hadn't been heard on the music scene in almost two decades, Arch's voice is young and fresh - I expect this voice to be from a 25 year old, not someone who was in his 40s - and his vocal range is superb.
The first track, "Relentless" is a pretty straight-forward progressive metal track. The vocals are good, the guitars are good, the drumming is good (of course); in short this song is good. The song is over 12 minutes in length but it doesn't seem that way - something that is good for a long song like this. None of the track seems forced or stretched out for time (as some lengthy songs do), it all flows together seamlessly.
For the final song "Cheyenne," Arch's voice takes on an almost middle-eastern effect, waving and warbling with emphasis and effect. It's what really brings me into this song. The beginning half of the track tends to drag a bit, and if it had only been a 5 minute song instead of being 15 minutes I probably would have passed it over, but the ending is what pulls it all together. While "Relentless" was very fluid and continual, "Cheyenne" is taken in pieces, with no definite begin or end to each, but you can tell the difference in styles throughout. It seems like a song in movements, where you have to take the big picture of it all, and is better for it.
For a person like me, who rarely listens to the same album within the same month, I am currently listening to this EP for the second time this week, and I actually forced myself to space it out, otherwise it would have been twice in two days, but I wanted a bigger picture of the album. Because of this obvious love for an amazing project, A Twist of Fate has been added to my Favorite Albums Page, even after just discovering the album! John Arch, I hope you record more music, even if I have to wait another 20 years between takes, it is worth the wait. Check out this EP, it's collected rave reviews from everywhere I have seen it (which is why I was so interested in hearing it), including from here.