Review: The Spectre Within By American Progressive Metal Band Fates Warning
The Spectre Within: Front Album Cover
Track Listing for The Spectre Within
- Traveler in Time
- Orphan Gypsy
- Without a Trace
- Pirates of the Underground
- The Apparition
- Kyrie Eleison
Why is This Album The Spectre Within Deserving of a Review?
For one thing, the band at this time in their career is going through a cycle of growth and experimentation. Whether the band knew this or not, they would only get better with the passage of time. Though it must be mentioned that Night on Brocken is a better because of memorable songs such as Kiss of Death, Misfits, and Shadowfax. And that album really does not have any songs that are worse than the songs in this album. Even songs such as Damnation and Soldier Boy are better than the two weakest tracks in the band’s second album.
Traveler In Time and Orphan Gypsy Get The Album Off To a Solid Start!
Connecticut based progressive metal band Fates Warning went back to work after releasing their debut album Night on Brocken in 1984. Their next album would be The Spectre Within. This album was released in 1985, in the middle of one of the most successful decades for the genre of heavy metal. The album has seven songs for over 48 minutes of music. The opening song Traveler in Time has the sound of a ticking clock along with what sounds like wind blowing to create a very suspenseful and spooky musical theme. The band pushes the right button this time, keeping listeners interested and wondering what’s coming next. The song is about a very wise older gentleman who embarks on a search for purpose and meaning. When that special, mystical hour comes upon the night, he goes all the way up to the belfry like he has done so many times before. It seems like a wind blows through his spirit. Nothing in our lives lasts forever and even those who are old must pass away eventually. The story ends when the man dies being very forlorn and dejected. This Traveler in Time song is not nearly as good as the one written by Blind Guardian in 1990-1991. Next comes the very strong Iron Maiden influenced song called Orphan Gypsy. The song is about an orphan who is a vagabond, someone that travels all over the world and wants to be left alone. He is so distraught that he feels that he does not have anywhere to consider his home. Of the first two songs, Orphan Gypsy gets the upper hand for sure.
Your question might be how does The Spectre Within compare as an album to Night on Brocken? Thanks for asking and part of this review will attempt to address that very question.
Starting From the Song Without a Trace Through The Apparition it is Mostly Very Good
The very fast song Without a Trace is a mid-tempo and fast song about a murder that was committed yet according to the news, it is a classic case of a disappearance. As the story goes in this song, a young woman disappeared with no trace as her car is eventually discovered at the bottom of a lake. Once again, we hear a classic John Arch type of vocal scream before a pretty decent riff. After an at best average song Pirates of the Underground comes the very solid The Apparition. An apparition is like some kind of ghost. The song is about someone who wants to go into this dark, black, abyss to find out what is there. Upon reaching there, he hears a voice telling him to go back because mortals are not allowed there.
"Traveler In Time"
A Photo of An Apparition Which is a Kind of Ghost
How Good Is The Spectre Within?
After some chanting vocals, the fast song Kyrie Eleison is a kind of cheesy attempt to sound fast and melodic and it really does not work out that well. To finish off the album, the almost 12 minute long song Epitaph has several different parts including a chanting style part by John Arch which I must admit fits into the song. Because of the sub-standard nature of songs 4 and 6, The Spectre Within gets an 80 out of 100 points from this writer. Once again, one of the weakest points about Fates Warning during these early years is the tendency of John Arch to let out these vocal parts that sound like he is whining and this one factor is the biggest reason why I am glad that John Arch was not a part of the band after 1987. Fates Warning really got better as a band starting in 1988 and after that.
There are better progressive metal albums than this one especially Images and Words by Dream Theater. Fates Warning and Dream Theater were two US progressive metal bands I would listen to a lot through the early 2000’s. The Spectre Within should be checked out after you listen to albums such as No Exit, Parallels, and Inside Out.
Favorite Song on the Album The Spectre Within
What is your favorite song on the album The Spectre Within?
© 2016 Ara Vahanian