This is the kind of album release I used to dream about as a young metalhead in the ’80s. Classy, progressive, well-produced, provocative and heavy. It’s the kind of album I had always wanted Judas Priest to come forward with in the ’80s. But it never came.

Add in ex-Fates Warning singer John Arch and you easily have 4 stars here. Arch has always been a favorite metal vocalist of mine. An easy cross between Geoff Tate and Bruce Dickinson, his voice is a pleasure to listen to. The way I would have explained it back in the ’80s: his voice is so-damn-cool! And after all these years, the man still has what it takes.

It is so refreshing to hear this type of metal vocalist in an age of gurgling and growling into the mic. This, to me, is what makes heavy metal music so enjoyable. This is why I got into heavy metal in the first place. Right to the point: this album is almost like a true descendant of something as immortal as Sin After Sin.

Guitarist Jim Matheos, of course, is perfect in his songwriting. Listen to the breathtaking buzzsaw pace of the riffs in “Stained Glass Sky.” The fantastic tempo changes and beautiful acoustic nuances of “Any Given Day (Strangers Like Me)” In fact, when Arch’s pleading scream of “shine on me” combines with searing guitar it sends shivers up the spine. The bottom line is that throughout the album, Matheos’ guitar delivery — matched with the legendary Joey Vera on bass and the talented Frank Aresti on guitars — is progressively sublime.

And even when album “mellows” a bit, it is electrifying. “Incense and Myrrh” is the kind of ballad that should typify metal ballads— forget that hair metal crap of the ’80s. It is beautiful in its own way — sharp in its spirit and soaking the atmosphere with melodic life in the way RUSH used to do.

Overall, Sympathetic Resonance is an album that is a must for those who love intelligent, classy heavy metal.