As the original voice of Fates Warning, John Arch’s signature high-pitched style is uniquely synonymous with the progressive metal veterans’ first three albums in the 1980s. But after the most well-known of that trifecta, 1986’s Awaken the Guardian, the vocalist parted ways with the band.

The end of Arch’s tenure became significant in two facets:

  1. He was replaced on 1988’s No Exit by San Antonio native Ray Balderrama, known in metal circles as Ray Alder, who continues to front the band today and most recently visited his hometown when Fates Warning opened for Queensryche on March 22 at the Aztec Theatre (coverage here)

  2. Arch would go on to basically disappear from the music scene for 17 years

After recording a solo EP in 2003 in which he reunited with Fates Warning founder and guitarist Jim Matheos, Arch and Matheos created a side project simply called Arch/Matheos that debuted with 2011’s Sympathetic Resonance that featured San Antonio native and current Fates Warning drummer Bobby Jarzombek behind the kit for each of the album’s six songs that totaled 55 minutes.

At long last, in between Fates Warning’s two most recent albums, Arch/Matheos returns May 10 with Winter Ethereal on Metal Blade Records. Unlike its predecessor eight years ago, Matheos and Arch enlisted various players to perform on the album’s nine songs that include their staple of lengthy lyrical story telling, complicated time changes, and heavy riffs dabbed with the slightest touches of tranquility.

"This stems from both of us trying to step out of our comfort zones a bit, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes being pushed," Matheos said in a press release. "Having worked together so many times, it would be easy to fall into the same way of doing things, and I think we were both interested in exploring some new areas."

This time, Jarzombek plays on two tracks including first single and video “Straight and Narrow” (below). Former Fates Warning drummer Mark Zonder and guest drummer Thomas Lang also perform on the record. Bass players include former Fates member Joe DiBiase, current Fates and Armored Saint member Joey Vera and a guest appearance from Testament, Charred Walls of the Damned and Spirits Of Fire bassist Steve DiGiorgio.

Arch graciously went “Into the Pit” with Alamo True Metal on Monday to discuss the making of the new album and video versus the Arch/Matheos debut. He also delves into the dynamic with his Fates Warning replacement Alder plus the reasons touring isn’t made for him as much as recording music in the studio and how that affects any thought of Arch/Matheos eventually supporting Fates Warning on the road.

So kick back, grab a cold one, put on the headphones, and listen to our entire conversation below. Then click here for Part 2 of “Into the Pit” with Arch/Matheos to read Jarzombek’s take on the project.