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Fates Warning

Progressive Metal

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Fates Warning The Spectre Within album cover
3.44 | 226 ratings | 16 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1985

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Traveler In Time (7:11)
2. Orphan Gypsy (6:00)
3. Without A Trace (4:50)
4. Pirates Of The Underground (7:07)
5. The Apparition (5:50)
6. Kyrie Eleison (5:27)
7. Epitaph (12:00)

Total Time: 48:15

Bonus tracks on 2002 remaster:
8. Radio Underground (Live Underground) (6:57)
9. The Apparition (Rehearsal, 1985) (5:54)
10. Kyrie Eleison ("Dickie" demo, 1985) (5:50)
11. Epitaph ("Dickie" demo, 1985) (10:35)

Line-up / Musicians

- John Arch / vocals
- Jim Matheos / guitars
- Victor Arduini / guitars
- Joe DiBiase / bass
- Steve Zimmerman / drums

- Jim Arch / keyboards

Releases information

Artwork: 3rd Image

LP Metal Blade Records ‎- MBR 1051 (1985, US)

CD Metal Blade Records ‎- 72088-2 (1987 US)
CD Metal Blade Records ‎- 3984-14054-2 (1994, US) Remastered by Eddy Schreyer
CD Metal Blade Records ‎- 3984-14430 (2002, US) Remastered by Brad Vance with 4 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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FATES WARNING The Spectre Within ratings distribution

(226 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (16%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

FATES WARNING The Spectre Within reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Mellotron Storm
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.

Review by 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 bandīs debut album "Night On Bröcken (1984)" was a decent and at times promising start for the band with itīs 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 itīs still a great track.

The musicianship is generally on a high level but itīs 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 itīs a bit powerless and typical for the eighties a lot of reverb has been applied to all instruments and vocals. Itīs definitely an issue but not one that completely kills the listening experience.

Even with a sound production thatīs slightly lacking in quality, itīs 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 Queensrĸche and to a lesser extent Watchtower, but Fates Warning stood out as quite the unique act especially because of John Archīs vocals. I might be shooting a bit high here but I think a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

Review by Modrigue
4 stars 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.

Review by 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

Review by Isa
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.

Review by Warthur
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.

Review by J-Man
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.

Review by Sinusoid
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.

Latest members reviews

3 stars The sophomore album by Fates Warning is much more mature. The band was beginning to put their own stamp to progressive heavy metal. There are dynamic shifts in drumming, various sections such as mellow jazzy sounding guitar in "Traveler in time". We have great riffing rooted in heavy metal but m ... (read more)

Report this review (#2948030) | Posted by sgtpepper | Wednesday, August 30, 2023 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#288579) | Posted by FarBeyondProg | Monday, June 28, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 op ... (read more)

Report this review (#277159) | Posted by LSDisease | Saturday, April 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#197762) | Posted by vens | Thursday, January 8, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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. ... (read more)

Report this review (#108222) | Posted by Hrvat | Sunday, January 21, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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 g ... (read more)

Report this review (#43877) | Posted by riversdancing | Tuesday, August 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 impo ... (read more)

Report this review (#41806) | Posted by | Saturday, August 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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. ... (read more)

Report this review (#23397) | Posted by l-s-d | Friday, February 27, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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