Fates Warning
The Spectre Within


3.5
great

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
May 17th, 2008 | 56 replies | 11,787 views


Release Date: 1985 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This album is for die-hard fans only. The production is dated as are most of the riffs and vocals, but it is a good indicator of what was to come on the next album.

When Fates Warning started out people accused them of sounding like an Iron Maiden clone, but this is a comparison that I never agreed with. What is certain, though, is that their first album was nothing more then some fairly standard eighties metal with a few interesting elements. Fortunately, Fates Warning progressed in leaps and bounds thereafter, starting with this release, The Spectre Within. This album is where John Arch started to experiment with layered vocal harmonies, and the band began to branch out into the realm of Progressive Metal.

The opening track, “Traveler in Time”, shows that the band still had a long way to go before reaching the heights of their next album Awaken the Guardian, but it also confirms that the foundation was at least being laid. The riffs are fairly standard mid-paced chugging power chords, with John Arch’s high-pitched wail over the top. John’s vocal melodies through most of this song are simple with only the occasional nod to the more complex nature of what they would soon become. The conventional nature of his vocals demonstrates the limitations that his actual singing voice has when not layered, and when the music cannot back him up.

Subsequent tracks do little to change the idea that Fates Warning still had a ways to go before reaching the quality of their next album. From time to time they throw in dual guitar harmonies, a melodic lead or a quick change in musical direction, but for the most part the music dwells firmly in the standard chugging riffs of the era. Also, by the mid-point of the album John’s vocals start to become slightly irritating due to the unchanging high-pitched nature of his voice. In the next album (and his final) he is able to avoid sounding tedious and redundant due to the complex harmonies he came up with, and the fact that he sometimes had multiple layers of his voice all singing differently at the same time, but on this one where his voice is singular, he’s just barely passable.

It isn’t until the fifth track, “The Apparition”, that the quality rises above average and they really show their potential. John makes the best use of his layered vocal harmonies (for this album) on this song, and the music starts to finally display a Progressive edge mixed in with the conventional riffs. This song also features a great break in the middle where everything comes together better then anywhere else in the album. The riffs display an energy and complexity not shown in previous songs, the vocal melodies actually seem to fit, and the drummer actually sounds like he is interested in playing with the band.

The final two tracks maintain this higher quality with “Kyrie Eleison” being one of Fates Warning’s more aggressive songs in their career (and also one of my favorites). It starts with a good dual guitar harmony before the main riff comes galloping in. The song never lets up from beginning to end, and I’m sure it was a fan favorite live due to its energy. The closer, “Epitaph”, is the long-winded and moody song that fans have now come to expect from Fates Warning. It has various movements and moods during its twelve minute duration and is a great way to close out the album.

Having to put this album into the context of the new millennium, I can’t recommend it to many people, despite the fact that I really like it. The production is a bit hollow and dated, as are most of the riffs and vocals. Anyone wanting to delve into Fates Warning’s past would be better off starting with what many consider their peak, Awaken the Guardian, or getting a later album with Ray Alder singing since those albums all have a much more modern edge. This album is only going to be interesting to people who love Fates Warning and would like to hear their musical progression and see how they started out, but those people probably didn’t need a review that is twenty-three years late to decide to do that.



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user ratings (104)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
February 29th 2008



15909 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is one of my favorite bands and that is why I'm slowly trying to finish up the reviews for their discography (depsite the fact that most don't give a shit about the band).

Also, the reason my rating is higher then the reviews is because I really like this band and this album, but I can also see the limitations that someone hearing it today would find.This Message Edited On 02.29.08

rasputin
February 29th 2008



14538 Comments


Good review. I probably wouldn't like this.

Willie
Moderator
February 29th 2008



15909 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review. I probably wouldn't like this.
Thanks... most probably wouldn't like this, but writing it kills time at work.

rasputin
February 29th 2008



14538 Comments


yeah, and new reviews to read are awesome. Gives me more reason to waste time on sputnik.

hermitspancho
February 29th 2008



278 Comments


reviews really good .Amen to killing time the Sputnik way This Message Edited On 02.29.08

Lunarfall
February 29th 2008



3179 Comments


I like this album, but AtG owns the crap out of it.

Windows
February 29th 2008



76 Comments


I just got into these guys a little while ago and they're great. I have this album, but I keep forgetting to finish listening to it. Thanks for the reminder and nice review. Voted.

Willie
Moderator
March 1st 2008



15909 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like this album, but AtG owns the crap out of it.
Yeah, no doubt about it...
Thanks for the reminder and nice review.
If you haven't finished it then you're missing the three best songs on the album.

TheHamburgerman
October 11th 2009



1286 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

What the... The prodution is perfect, plus the riffs and vocals are damn orginal, even though this is made 20 years ago.

Willie
Moderator
October 12th 2009



15909 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The production is kind of muddy and flat, even compared to Awaken the Guardian which only came out a little over a year later. There are a few original riffs, but not a majority. The vocals are pretty original (just because of John's voice/delivery), but they're still kind of standard compared to what came next.

TheHamburgerman
October 29th 2009



1286 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I disagree, I can't find a lot of riffs on here that are comparable to other bands. The vocal melodies are totally out of this world (I could understand though if you didn't like his voice), and yeah about the production. It doesn't strike me as it strikes you apparently. I like it when the guitar is loud, the other instruments are hearable. I like the guitar tone too, sounds very natural.

Set
May 12th 2010



19 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

3.0? Shit score. This deserves a 6. It's THAT good.

BaphometConsumed
October 20th 2010



38 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

What Set said.

I couldn't disagree more with the idea that this is an unoriginal album either. I mean, yeah, there are influences, but as a whole, not a single band in the 1980's sounded like Fates Warning. Hell, nobody today has ever replicated the feel of those two LPs either.

Willie
Moderator
October 20th 2010



15909 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, it probably does need a higher score. I wrote this a few years ago and I was trying to include the thoughts and opinions of what someone listening for the first time in 2008 (at the time) might think. It was a dumb idea, but you live and learn.

I just listened to this about an hour ago, actually, and I still stand by the fact that a lot of the riffs were pretty standard. I never said the album was unoriginal, just a lot of the riffs. The way they're put together is pretty original, actually. I also spent too much time comparing this to Awaken the Guardian which is going to make just about any other album look kind of bad in comparison.

stabbler
May 30th 2012



1415 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

totally unfashionable. totally cheesy. totally influential. totally awesome

Titan
June 26th 2013



4854 Comments


I do think fans of classic heavy metal will appreciate the likes of this more so than the Alder years, but to each his own. I agree completely on the production, and yes, The Apparition rules.

HorrorBusiness78
June 26th 2013



104 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is in my top 5 favorite albums of all time. I love everything about it.

Titan
June 26th 2013



4854 Comments


that's fucking awesome

sonictheplumber
August 1st 2013



4359 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

rocks

TrueBlood
August 1st 2013



1388 Comments


and stabs



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