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Fates Warning - The Spectre Within CD (album) cover


Fates Warning


Progressive Metal

3.47 | 173 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars 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.

J-Man | 4/5 |


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