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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
3 stars This early attempt at making progressive metal is actually more to my liking than I might admit.

THE SPECTRE WITHIN sounds far more metal than it does prog. The thing reeks of Iron Maiden making me want to apologize to Queensryche for accusing them of the same thing. Yet I can also hear snippets of Judas Priest (mainly in the more metallic sound of the rhythm guitars) and Anthrax (of all bands) in terms of structuring. However, Matheos and guitarist Victor Arduini are constantly shifting their riffs into odd time signatures long before Soundgarden got that idea, and I feel this was done to avoid sounding too much like any other metal band. Essentially, we have American NWOBHM with Rush in the time signatures.

It's been a rough process trying to understand THE SPECTRE WITHIN, although I have come to terms with the album as being very good. The review on the back of the reissue claims ''The Apparition'' might be the best metal song ever; I won't go THAT far, but it is the best song on the album with the meatiest riffs, the best segues and a structure that reminds me of Anthrax (I know I have them on the brain lately). The real prog influence comes to the fore on ''Epitaph'', and it's a good denouement in structure and the acoustic beginning helps ease the thrashing previous, particularly the Priest-ish ''Kyrie Eleison''.

The production can feel thin at times, but I can forego it considering that this is Metal Blade in their embryonic years with a band that hasn't had much of a track record at this point. The real rot with me is the vocals. John Arch has the range, but he hits those high notes at the expense of power; he sounds as if I tried singing metal (metal high notes have never been my forte). The power in his high notes is horrifyingly flimsy, and it nearly ruins the experience.

As a prog-metal precursor, THE SPECTRE WITHIN is worth checking out, especially if you're a fan of Fates Warning. Be prepare for extremely subpar vocals.

Sinusoid | 3/5 |


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