FATES WARNING — The Spectre Within

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FATES WARNING - The Spectre Within cover
3.92 | 39 ratings | 6 reviews
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Album · 1985


1. Traveler In Time (7:13)
2. Orphan Gypsy (5:59)
3. Without A Trace (4:49)
4. Pirates Of The Underground (7:07)
5. The Apparition (5:50)
6. Kyrie Eleison (5:25)
7. Epitaph (11:57)

Total Time 48:21

2002 bonus tracks:

8. Radio Underground (Live Underground) (6:57)
9. The Apparition (rehearsal, 1985) (5:54)
10. Kyrie Eleison (demo, 1985) (5:50)
11. Epitaph (demo, 1985) (11:54)


- John Arch / Vocals
- Victor Arduini / Guitar
- Joe DiBiase / Bass
- Jim Matheos / Guitar
- Steve Zimmerman / Drums

Guest/Session Musicians:

- Jim Archambault / Keyboards

About this release

Released by Metal Blade Records, October 15th, 1985.

Remastered edition released in 1994.

The 2002 remaster contains bonus tracks and has a slightly altered artwork with a different logo.

Thanks to Stooge, Lynx33, UMUR, adg211288 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

An underrated album. The second record from FATES WARNING and their first to incorporate progressive elements. Seeds of 80's progressive metal can be found here. With "The Spectre Within", the band complexifies the structure of their songs. The style is always fast heavy/trash metal with high-pitched vocals, but, since the first opus, compositions have increased in quality and energy. The album features seven mid-length powerful mini-epic tracks in the vein of MAIDEN's "Powerslave" and QUEENSRYCHE's first offerings. Yet, the ambiance distilled by FATES WARNING is darker and more tortured.

The opening, "Traveler In Time", directly sets the scene for a gloomy nightmare. The atmosphere is maintained in "Orphan Gypsy". Whereas "Without A Trace" sounds like typical 80's heavy metal, the next song, "Pirates Of The Underground", is more complex and really epic. Then comes the highlight of the record, "The Apparition", with its changing rhythms and its you-know-who's "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" feel. On the other hand, "Kyrie Eleison" is the weak point of the disc and don't really manage to lift off. Fortunately, the ending track, "Epitaph", is one of the best. Lasting more than 10 minutes, it features doom, epic, fantasy and epic moments. John Arch deploys all his talents here.

Although a bit hard to get in at first listen," The Spectre Within" should please early 80's heavy/trash metal fans and is a must have for those in IRON MAIDEN, early QUEENSRYCHE and FATES WARNING's "Awaken The Guardian". A compulsory stop in your journey to prog metal origins.
"The Spectre Within" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US heavy metal act Fates Warning. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in October 1985. The band´s debut album "Night On Bröcken (1984)" was a decent and at times promising start for the band with it´s traditional heavy metal sound. "The Spectre Within" sees the band adopt more progressive elements although the music on the album should probably still predominantly be tagged traditional heavy metal.

The band are still heavily influenced by especially Iron Maiden, but the songwriting on "The Spectre Within" features an increased sophistication and tracks like "Traveler in Time" and "Epitaph" are to my ears fully fledged progressive metal tracks. They feature multible sections, intriguing instrumental parts and an epic touch. The more "regular" heavy metal tracks on the album are also quite sophisticated though. Check out the twin guitar solo in the opening minute of "Orphan Gypsy" for an example of that. The fast-paced "Kyrie Eleison" (fantastic track IMO), "Without a Trace" and "The Apparition" are great tracks too. The only track that feels a bit disjointed is "Pirates of the Underground" and despite that it´s still a great track.

The musicianship is generally on a high level but it´s lead vocalist John Arch that steals the show throughout the album. He is a spectacular vocalist and the vocal lines on the album are twisted and turned inside out through his masterful voice control. His somewhat nasal and extremely high pitched vocal style is probably an aquired taste, but no one should take away from him how passionate and skilled he is.

The sound production leaves a bit to be desired. To be honest it´s a bit powerless and typical for the eighties a lot of reverb has been applied to all instruments and vocals. It´s definitely an issue but not one that completely kills the listening experience.

Even with a sound production that´s slightly lacking in quality, it´s obvious that "The Spectre Within" is a special album. It should without a doubt be considered among the seminal progressive metal albums. Or at the very least it should be counted among the first albums released in the genre. Their closest relatives at this point were Queensrÿche and to a lesser extent Watchtower, but Fates Warning stood out as quite the unique act especially because of John Arch´s vocals. I might be shooting a bit high here but I think a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.
As decent as Fates Warning's debut album was, it honestly wasn't much more than a glorified (albeit very good) Iron Maiden clone. Their second album, The Spectre Within, is where they really began to gain their unique voice in the heavy metal world. While still not nearly as influenced by progressive rock as some of their later offerings, this is one of the most progressively inclined metal albums in you'll find in 1985. The Spectre Within is a perfect example of Maiden-inspired heavy metal that's still unique and, at the time, pretty groundbreaking. This will probably appeal more to traditional metal fans than prog metal fans simply because most of the album is riff-based heavy metal, but there's no denying that this is an essential document of early progressive metal. And a pretty damn good one, too.

The Spectre Within is one of those albums that just contains so many kick-ass riffs, amazing vocals (courtesy of none other than the spectacular John Arch), and legendary guitar solos that it's hard not to bang your head like a madman the entire way through. This is a really fun album from beginning to end, and all of the more straightforward tracks are simply fantastic traditional heavy metal songs. I just can't imagine any metalhead not having a blast with songs like "Without a Trace", "Pirates of the Underground", and "The Apparition". "Traveler In Time" and especially the epic "Epitaph" are both some of the earliest examples of progressive metal as we now know it, so those curious about the history and evolution of prog metal are bound to love these as well. When all is said and done, I have a great time with all of The Spectre Within; being a massive fan of both traditional heavy metal and progressive metal, an album like this is right up my alley.

While the musicianship was pretty impressive on the previous Fates Warning album, it seems like they've tightened up even more for The Spectre Within. Jim Matheos and Victor Arduini deliver plenty of blistering leads and impressive riffs throughout the album; some of the twin guitar attacks found here are simply spectacular. But, of course, like all of the early Fates Warning albums, most eyes will probably be on John Arch and his fantastic vocals. To put it mildly, he's one of the most skillful metal singers ever, and that's ever so apparent on The Spectre Within. Just listen to his vocal acrobatics on "Kyrie Eleison" (or the rest of the album, come to think of it), and you'll know exactly what I mean. The production may be a bit too muddy for some listeners, but it hardly ever gets in the way of my enjoyment. Though I wish the drums sounded a bit cleaner, this is far from a horrendous production, especially for a mid-eighties' heavy metal album.

Fates Warning may have released better albums later in their career, but The Spectre Within is still a fantastic observation and a downright essential example of early progressive metal. This is when the band's true ambition began to shine through, and the end result is nothing but a success. 4 stars are the least I can give to this groundbreaking classic. Anyone who is curious about the early history of progressive metal and hasn't heard this (if there are any such people, that is), The Spectre Within is recommendable in a heartbeat.
Now, THIS is more like it! In the space of a year Fates Warning jumped fromm being amateurish and unimaginative imitators of Iron Maiden to being peers of their great inspiration when it came to songwriting and performance. Sure, John Arch's vocals still sound like a Bruce Dickinson impersonation, but it's a damn good one - and this time around the songwriting matches that of Iron Maiden's when it comes to skill, and actually exceeds Maidens when it comes to the incorporation of progressive rock influences.

Not until Seventh Son of a Seventh Son would Maiden produce material quite as complex and intricate as the stuff presented here, and some material - such as the closing Epitaph - is proggier than Maiden ever dared to get. Forget about Brocken - this is where Fates Warning's prog metal style really took off.
Time Signature
Traveler in time signatures...

Genre: progressive metal (with power metal and trad. metal influebces)

"The Spectre Within" is a vast improvement since "Night on Bröcken". While the Iron Maiden influences are still pretty obvious, Fates Warning have nevertheless found their own sound and style on his album - a style which would come to fruition on "Awaken he Guardian". John Arch does some superb vocal performances on this album as well, and his acrobatic complex vocal melodies are much more controlled here than on the predecessor. There is plenty of good old heavy metal riffage supplemented by odd time signatures, tempo changes and tasty guitar melodies.

I would recommend this album to any fan of progressive metal but also to fans of traditional heavy metal and power metal.

Members reviews

Fates Warning did something incredible on their sophomore album; they took two metal subgeneres that hadn’t even begun evolving yet and combined them to create an even more unique sound that would be mimicked forever. Of course I’m talking about Progressive Power metal.

Now, this album isn’t true Progressive Power Metal, but it’s absolutely clear this is where it started, and some moments in their songs actually delve completely into this territory. The songs are speedy, complex, long and changing, and feature some nearly operatic vocals about space and stuff. There are no weaknesses whatsoever to this album. Of course things could be improved, as hundreds of bands have done since, but at the time it was released, absolutely nothing could have touched this in this realm of metal.

Keep in mind, their debut album was a very, very generic Heavy Metal album with absolutely nothing substantial about it at all.

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