Maidenfans Album Club: Arch/Matheos - Winter Ethereal (2019)

Dityn DJ James

A coma stole my name.
Yes lol. It's strange too because I like The Spectre Within and Awaken the Guardian quite a bit! I guess time hasn't been too kind to Arch. The music also is so-so. I found it to be disingenuously heavy.
 

LooseCannon

Yorktown-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
So I've listened to the album three times, and I actually don't mind John Arch's singing. I wouldn't say I like it - it's fine for me. It doesn't annoy or upset me, but it doesn't draw me in. Every now and then he hits a chorus I really enjoy, like in Wrath of the Universe. But the lyrics aren't the key selling point here, the key selling point is the music.

I'm not versed in Fates Warning, but this album has compelled me to put them on the list. Prog metal for me goes on a fun scale, and this one is a bit more wanky than what I love in prog, but isn't so wanky as to be Dream Theater, which I am very lukewarm on. Very few moments actively stood out to me, as in very few moments reached out and grabbed me. But it is an extremely listenable album. I intend to devote some time tomorrow morning to do nothing but listen and try to come up with something more to say on the album.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
I'm not versed in Fates Warning, but this album has compelled me to put them on the list. Prog metal for me goes on a fun scale, and this one is a bit more wanky than what I love in prog, but isn't so wanky as to be Dream Theater, which I am very lukewarm on.
A few things to consider before diving into Fates Warning:
- the majority of their albums are with vocalist Ray Alder, who sounds radically different (and is far better) than John Arch.
- their 90's output is more atmospheric, light prog rock/metal and they've gotten a lot heavier over the last 10 years or so.
- they are 100% less wanky than Dream Theater, I might say not wanky at all.
- A Pleasant Shade of Grey is a moody masterpiece.
- Joey Vera plays bass on most of their later albums!
 

Black Wizard

Cereal Litigator
I did listen to 'Winter Ethereal' when it was first released a few weeks ago and added it to my 2019 Spotify playlist so I was already quite familiar with it. My initial thoughts were that John Arch's vocals are quite grating, but musically it's a good album. Having come back to it for this thread and listened a bit more closely I think the vocal lines themselves are quite good, but the vocals are still quite trying. I suppose they're an acquired taste. There's no way that this is better than everything Dream Theater have done but it's probably more accessible as it doesn't have any of the Jordan Rudess messing around stuff. I wasn't familiar with anything that Arch or Matheos have done previously, but have heard of Fates Warning. Should I check them out?


For the "album you love that everyone else should" round I will nominate Purest of Pain's 'Sollipsis' from last year. An album I've been banging on about for a year and nobody bother to listen to.
 

Niall Kielt

Pulled Her At The Bottle Top
I did listen to 'Winter Ethereal' when it was first released a few weeks ago and added it to my 2019 Spotify playlist so I was already quite familiar with it. My initial thoughts were that John Arch's vocals are quite grating, but musically it's a good album. Having come back to it for this thread and listened a bit more closely I think the vocal lines themselves are quite good, but the vocals are still quite trying. I suppose they're an acquired taste. There's no way that this is better than everything Dream Theater have done but it's probably more accessible as it doesn't have any of the Jordan Rudess messing around stuff. I wasn't familiar with anything that Arch or Matheos have done previously, but have heard of Fates Warning. Should I check them out?


For the "album you love that everyone else should" round I will nominate Purest of Pain's 'Sollipsis' from last year. An album I've been banging on about for a year and nobody bother to listen to.
I never heard you bang shit, Wizard. I'll put it on now, just for you :wub:

In terms of Winter Ethereal, I listened casually at work twice last week and I feel the same as others above, the singer can be a tad annoying but theres some crackin riffage goin on. In general, from what I can remember, I don't really dig the music when the singer is singing (regardless of his voice) but most songs have parts I really enjoy, the are good a letting loose with a driving instrumental section.
Not bad at all but I doubt I will keep an eye on these guys.
 

Dityn DJ James

A coma stole my name.
Honestly, I thought this album gets a lot better after Wrath of the Universe. I think they really reign in their sound on Tethered and onwards. I can't really say much about this one [the album]. It's pretty inoffensive Prog metal (a genre I thoroughly do not enjoy outside Symphony X, some DT and later sounding Voivod) that lacks a bit in the vocal department. Sometimes Arch is able to emulate his voice as it sounded on The Spectre Within and Awaken the Guardian, but for the most part his voice is uncomfortably lathered in digital effects. I didn't think much of the riffs on here. There is some genuine heaviness present on Wrath of the Universe and some of the earlier tracks on the album, but for the most part they just try a bit too hard to sound uber-heavy. The drummer is ok, although around Straight and Narrow I was questioning if it was the work of one Angelo Sasso (R.I.P.) but the drum work on the last few tracks proved me wrong (I guess they used 5 different drummers on this album, some seem to be better than others).

I don't think this is an important album to listen to. It doesn't sound like Arch led Fates Warning and Arch himself sounds a bit past his prime. Maybe if you're a bit more into prog you'll find something of value (I really didn't). Moving onto the topic of, what is the most recent year you consider to be a landmark metal year?, I would have to say somewhere in 2010-2015 I think. The first part of this decade saw:
  • Satan's comeback (the excellent Life Sentence)
  • Overkill's first truly great album since Killbox 13 in 2003 (2010's Ironbound)
  • Releases from Iron Maiden (TFF and TBoS)
  • EXCELLENT releases from Motörhead (2013's Aftershock being their best 2010's effort, with 2010's The Wörld is Yours and 2015's Bad Magic having great tracks sprinkled throughout)
  • Accept with Mark Tornillo unleashing 2010's Blood of the Nations and 2012's Stalingrad: Brothers in Death back to back
  • Asphyx continuing their strong 2000's comeback with Deathhammer in 2012
  • Buckethead started the monumental Pikes series in 2011
  • Cannibal Corpse (a band I don't normally like) had the solid A Skeletal Domain in 2014
  • Havok continued delivering their own brand of retro-thrash with the 2 excellent releases Time is Up and Point of No Return (2011 & 2012)
  • Heathen's first LP in 19 years (The Evolution of Chaos)
  • Judas Priest's solid Redeemer of Souls
  • Napalm Death's Apex Predator - Easy Meat
  • Sodom's EXCELLENT In War and Pieces from 2010
  • Testament's great album Dark Roots of Earth in 2012
  • Vader's excellent death metal releases Welcome to the Morbid Reich and Tibi Et Igni (2011 & 2014)
There's some stuff I'm missing, but these are some of my favorite/landmark releases from the 2010's. There's a lot of bias in the above list, so don't ask me, "Where's X and what about Y?". Hard for me to pick just one landmark year from the 2010's, but I would say 2013 almost solely on how good Life Sentence and Aftershock are.
 

John Silver

Electric Buddy
As I recommended a record I will say this about Winter Ethereal:
If you like huge riffs and soaring vocals this is for you, for me the detail in the drumming is the only thing that elevates the music. The rest is boring yet somewhat soaring.
 

KidInTheDark666

What's yours is mine and what's mine is mine too
I actually enjoyed the vocals on this album alot. Songs were quite good, maybe a bit boring which makes the songs blend together. Overall pretty good stuff.
 

Lampwick 43

Barstool Warrior
So I finally got around to listening to Winter Ethereal today, and while I tend to agree with the majority that the vocals on this album are a major weakness, I find the rest of the music to be strong enough to more than make up for it. This is actually something I can see myself coming back to and listening to again in the future. The songs do seem to run together a bit, but that's most likely due to lack of familiarity. The biggest highlight for me was Never in Your Hands, which I genuinely enjoyed, and a close 2nd goes to Wrath of The Universe. All in all, I'm glad I listened to this album.

The next theme is: That album you love that you wish everyone else did.
There's a lot I could go with here, but I'm going to keep it in the prog realm and nominate Shrine of New Generation Slaves by Riverside.
 
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