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Fates Warning - The Spectre Within  CD (album) cover

THE SPECTRE WITHIN

Fates Warning

Progressive Metal


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4 stars very good album inspired much by Iron Maiden (Rime of Ancient Mariner riff appears in The Apparition - my favorite song of this album). We have also very good songs like Orphan Gypsy, Without A Trace and Kyrie Eleyson. Whole album has specific mood and it counts. This is worth of buying.

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Send comments to l-s-d (BETA) | Report this review (#23397)
Posted Friday, February 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
bearsrevil@ne
2 stars I am a huge fates Warning fan, but I have never really gotten this album, I mean it s ok, yet it just seems to lack a certain something. I would definitely recomend starting with "Paralells","A Pleasant Shade of Gray",or "No Exit" I think these albums are much stronger musically and of importance also is another vocalist Ray Alder who is in my opinion a more essential contributor than Jon Arch was. Also I enjoy the better production quality of these later albums. I do my no means hate this album, I just think theyve got better stuff out there...

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#41806)
Posted Saturday, August 06, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Second album from Fates Warning and a much better result. The production is strong and clear which is not self-evident, some albums from the mid-eighties have bloody awful sound. The songs are longer, the average length is 7 minutes and the closing epic "Epitaph" is over 11 minutes long without getting at all boring.

The most distinct feature is John Arch's vocals and his unique voice. He John has the most beautiful, intense, incredible, gorgeous, perfect voice in progressive metal, and the music and lyrics of the songs match his voice perfectly. The vocal lines are something totally insane, it's nearly impossible to imagine how he was able to create such complex melodies. The vocal themes sometimes more twisted than the song itself. Best evidenced on 'Traveller in Time' or 'The Apparition'. The intro of 'Pirates of the Underground' is a prog-metal dream which is followed by a strong Sabbath-ish riff.

This is one of those albums every progmetal fan should have. A shining star on the sky of progressive power metal. (A brief explanation: In the 80s, the genre power metal meant that it is much more powerful, more heavier than heavy metal bands, but they're not faster nor more aggressive. Some classic power metal bands: Jag Panzer, Helstar, Metal Church,... . There is no connection with the neoclassical so-called power/prog bands such as Angra or Rhapsody)

The remastered version contains 4 meaningless bonustracks, why do labels add rehersal and demo tracks of the same songs are already on the album in proper version?

Highlights: Traveller in Time, Without a Trace, The Apparition, Epitaph

8.5/10

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Send comments to riversdancing (BETA) | Report this review (#43877)
Posted Tuesday, August 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is one of Fates Warning's best albums. The Spectre Within is an underrated album, for me its as good as Awaken the Guardian. This was the album which really started to show the progressive side of Fates Warning. The epic track 'Epitaph' remains one of their best songs.

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Send comments to Hrvat (BETA) | Report this review (#108222)
Posted Sunday, January 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars.This is where FATES WARNING's started to define their own sound. So this is a significant record and better produced than the straight-forward IRON MAIDEN sounding debut "Night On Brocken".This record would pave the way to their masterpiece "Awaken The Guardian".

The opener "Traveler In Time" is a great song that opens with a guitar riff and a clock chiming, that turns into some heavy riffing as Mr. Arch starts to sing. What makes this song so good is John's vocal melodies and the way he holds a note. The guy is incredible. "Orphan Gypsy" opens with heavy sludge like riffs with a guitar melody overtop.The drumming is fantastic and the song becomes an uptempo rocker. "Without A Trace" is another uptempo tune, but something is lacking, it's ok though. "Pirates Of The Underground" opens with some fast paced instrumental work that suddenly stops as a slower riff comes in with vocals.The guitar is really good before the 4 minute mark.

"The Apparition" is an amazing song.The vocals are what makes this song tick. John is doing vocal gymnastics in this one. Nice heavy riffing as well. Without a doubt my favourite song on the record. "Kyrie Eleison" opens with what sounds like monks chanting until a guitar riff blows them away ! More incredible drumming and I love Arch's vocals in this fast paced tune.The final song "Epitath" is the longest and has lots of tempo shifts. In the beginning of this song I was reminded of IRON MAIDEN for the first time on this record.There is some great SABBATH-like bass lines as well as some scorching guitar solos. Incredible song !

I like this album quite a bit but I can't offer up that fourth star.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#110623)
Posted Saturday, February 03, 2007 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "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 Queensr˙che 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.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#174109)
Posted Monday, June 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Modrigue
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars An underrated album ! The second recording from FATES WARNING and their first to incorporate progressive elements. Seeds of 80's prog metal can be found here.

With The Spectre Within, the band complexifies the structure of their songs. Style is always fast heavy/trash metal with high-pitched vocals, but, since the first opus, compositions have gained 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 complex.

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 rythms and its Rime Of The Ancient Mariner feel. On the other hand, Kyrie Eleison is the weak point of the disc and don't 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.

Althought a bit hard to get in at first listen, The Spectre 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.

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Send comments to Modrigue (BETA) | Report this review (#195405)
Posted Sunday, December 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars Spectre Within is really dissapointing release, as the CD cover is the only exciting thing about the whole package. Songs are indeed intriguing - but only for a minute or so. After each so-called prog moment or change in rhythm, songs start to loose direction, falling into boringness (instead into the prog dephts expected). Surely, production and guitars are heavy, and that's a plus, but songwriting is simply uninventive, boring and pushy. It seems like that Fates Warning took the amount and lenght of songs needed for a solid metal album (along with guitar riffs) from Iron Maiden, mixing it with early Rush's rhythm changes within an album structure. That might sound promising, but not if you deliberately extend songs to last eight or ten minutes and than change tempo just to fill those same minutes!

The major problem with this release is that Fates Warning were not prepared for a proper prog-metal release (only few were at a time and the band is not blamed for that!) and that the band should stick to short heavy metal songs instead of copying Iron Maiden masterpieces. Shallow listener might consider this record as an early attempt in prog-metal, but I just don't buy it.

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Send comments to vens (BETA) | Report this review (#197762)
Posted Thursday, January 08, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars There are 4 songs on this album that I think are brilliant. Orphan Gypsy, Without A Trace, The Apparition, Kyrie Eleyson. There are some Maiden-like tunes in Without A Trace and The Apparition however most of this album sounds a bit like early Queensryche. I also really like that monumental opener Traveler In Time. I'd shorten final Epitaph but even in that shape it's not a bad thing. This album isn't a masterpiece and was something natural when it came out but you won't find prog metal album like that these days. So I'm giving it 4 stars. It's better than almost any Dream Theater album (maybe with exeption of Images And Words).

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Send comments to LSDisease (BETA) | Report this review (#277159)
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Iron Maiden, Iron Maiden, Iron Maiden, the two words i repeated a few times to myself while listening to this album for the first time, little did i know what other suprises were waiting for me on the second listen, yes i could go on for a while about how much they sound like said band, but what lies beyond this band is something of a fantastic quality, take John Arch for example a man that looks wierdly like a cross between Rick Wakeman and Fish from Marillion yet has this amazing quality to his voice very like that of Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson and Geoff Tate of Queensyrche (he really likes his high notes) All in all this is a very decent album, some parts were quite similar in sound but that didnt bother me to much, i love the riffs, just really 80's Maiden and like i said before the vocals are incredible, there are also a lot of very catchy moments on this record as well with the songs ORPHAN GYPSY and THE APPARITION sorta reminding me a little of 'When Dream And Day Unite' Dream Theater WITHOUT A TRACE is in my opinion the most catchy song on here with a chorus to die for. Production is very good again very 80's (saying as it was released in 85) nothing really seems to be out of place or anything and musicamnship is steller, a solid album;

Traveler In Time - 8/10 Orphan Gypsy -8/10 Without A Trace - 9/10 Pirates Of The Underground - 7/10 The Apparition - 9/10 Kyrie Eleison - 8/10 Epitaph - 9/10

MY CONCLUSION? this was the first Fates Warning album ive heard, and it really made me want to check out another one, great band, worth checking out.

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Send comments to FarBeyondProg (BETA) | Report this review (#288579)
Posted Monday, June 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The second album demonstrated Fates Warning improvement in their musical composition even though they still could not get away from Iron Maiden's influence. In fact I could see now the blend of Iron Maiden, Queensryche and Helloween into one. But of course the influence of Iron Maiden is the most. The opening track "Traveler In Time" (7:11) is a good rocker with stunning guitar solo and powerful vocal. "Orphan Gypsy" (6:00) continues the similar style of Iron Maiden using double guitar work backed with solid basslines like those you could hear from Steve Harris work with Iron Maiden. My favorite tracks include "Pirates Of The Underground" (7:07) and the concluding track "Epitaph" (12:00). "Pirates of The Underground" has a good opening part followed with vocal work that sounds like emulating Geoff Tate of Queensryche. The music flows nicely in straight rocker style. "Epitaph" is basically an epic with progressive elements. It's an interesting track especially for those of you with progrock background or preference - you would love this track. I could guess that this track served a strong foundation for FW to move into prog arena.

Overall, it's a good album and do not expect progressive elements. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#526635)
Posted Sunday, September 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
Isa
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars |D+| One small step for a band, one giant leap for prog-metal (the epic track Epitaph).

In Fates Warning's sophomore album, The Spectre Within, there is a significant step in their direction toward the prog style (long songs, tempo/meter changes, etc.). From what I can gather, most of the band's time and effort went into the 12 minute epic Epitaph at the end of the album, which is an incredible work and a solid embryo for the development of prog- metal.

For the rest of the album, however, the band was far less successful in incorporating the prog style into their heavier tracks, so that the songwriting actually went down in quality from their debut. Many of the tracks with some progressive elements are somewhat awkward and in-cohesive, whilst the tracks that more emulate Iron Maiden are in fact far superior to my ears. This isn't all too surprising to me considering prog-metal itself had never really been done before, and therefore we can almost consider this album overall an experimental one for the band. What's more, it's clear they're also trying to simultaneously develop their own unique sound using more progressive composition techniques. (I wonder if the band had had a copy of Queensryche's debut album by then....) The experimentation was worth it I think, for the sound of the band as we know them would come to fruition with subsequent releases. The 12min epic "Epitaph" is the track to listen for on this album, and is really the main reason to even buy this album. It's as progressive as anything Queensryche made after them, in my opinion.

Track Commentary: The opener Traveler in Time starts off with wind and clock sound effects, leading into church bells and heavy metal power chords, almost an announcement to the metal world regarding what the band is trying to accomplish with this album. This and the second track Orphan Gypsy show clear prog tendencies, especially with the time signature changes in both tracks. The vocal melodies pretty much suck in these opening tracks, and the singer sings flat most of the time, and this is especially pronounced when the vocal harmonies are added. Tracks three and four Without a Trace and Pirates of the Underground, however, are far more in the Iron Maiden style of their debut, and thus are actually far stronger than the previous two. A lot of good NWBHM sounding riffs, drumming, etc. Pirates of the Underground has a break in the middle, suddenly changing tempo and sounding quite evil, though the vocal melody over the riffs is kinda crap again. Fortunately the guitar solo is incredible, and the break into the speedy tremolos is effective. Haha, the duel guitar patterns sound just like the ones on Deep Purple's Highway Star. Fifth track Apparition does not start well, with the vocalist singing overdubbed harmonies out of tune (again). This is prevalent throughout the track. The instrumental parts are a bit more convincing some of the others, with ever so slight hints at prog. Kyrie Eleison... well as an orthodox Catholic I certainly love Gregorian Chant in my prog-metal, and this is certainly beautiful (though only too obviously not performed by the band members themselves). The rest of the song is the usual chugging guitar with not so great vocal melodies. The chorus is almost painful since it's cheesy and they enunciate the Greek so poorly.

Epitaph, the last epic track of the album (hm, wonder where they got the idea for that title), shows pretty obvious and strong progressive style composition, the time signature changes, creative riffs, the effective use of acoustic guitar, overall epic sound and what not. Without a doubt the best track on the album. Definitely a creative piece of music, probably one of the most creative tracks in metal that year. I love the military style snare hits with the over-driven guitar juxtaposing the soothing acoustic guitar and "ohs" of the vocalist. Even the NWBHM sounding section is pretty solid. Halfway through, the band breaks into almost mystical sounding material; it's really quite pretty. Then the metal guitar comes back in at a slower tempo, with keyboard patterns. It's a very bombastic sounding fade-out ending.

Basically, this track is mainly worth getting for the last track Epitaph, and most of the guitar solos are pretty awesome, even on the crappier tracks. Really the rest of the album is actually less interesting than the band's straight-up Iron Maiden clone of a debut. Recommended mainly for fans of Fates Warning and prog-metal collectors/researchers.

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Send comments to Isa (BETA) | Report this review (#561452)
Posted Wednesday, November 02, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 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.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#584636)
Posted Thursday, December 08, 2011 | Review Permalink
J-Man
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.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#585614)
Posted Saturday, December 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
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.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#967517)
Posted Friday, May 31, 2013 | Review Permalink

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