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Night on Brocken the Debut Album by Progressive Metal Band Fates Warning

Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

The full moon is on the cover and it symbolizes that night is upon us. Night on Brocken would be one of four good releases in the 1980's by Fates Warning.

The full moon is on the cover and it symbolizes that night is upon us. Night on Brocken would be one of four good releases in the 1980's by Fates Warning.

Track Listing for Night on Brocken



  1. Buried Alive
  2. The Calling
  3. Kiss of Death
  4. Night on Brocken
  5. S.E.K. (instrumental)
  6. Misfit
  7. Shadowfax (instrumental)
  8. Damnation
  9. Soldier Boy

Night On Brocken: A Significant Release But Not Great

Night on Brocken is the 1984 album by US progressive metal band Fates Warning. The album is famous for its melody and harmonies that are largely influenced by Iron Maiden. Fates Warning is a band that is from the US East Coast formed in 1982. John Arch is the vocalist for this album as well as the two albums that would follow this one. Jim Matheos and Victor Arduini play the guitars on this album. Joe Dibiase who would spend many years with Fates Warning plays the bass guitar. The drums are played by Steve Zimmerman. However, Night on Brocken pales in comparison to other albums released that year including Ride the Lightning and Don’t Break the Oath. I know I have been critical of saying that American heavy metal has declined. Maybe so, but in the 1980’s, the US had great heavy metal albums. John Arch has a high pitched voice but he is sometimes hard to understand because he tries to do too much.

"The Calling" Lets Listeners Hear the Iron Maiden influence

The Iron Maiden influence is really detectable particularly in the song “The Calling.” The song is about a cry that is heard through the night. There is an old man that is very anxious and no one is around him. This is a land where predominantly spirits live. There is a magpie that will laugh at humans and look at them in spite. What happens is that the banshee has been the ghost that has been stalking and terrorizing people. But the old man wakes up in the morning, casts a spell, and only then does he realize that this has happened. The banshee is actually an Irish ghost. She has been featured in American popular culture because she has been referenced in the Inspector Gadget episode called Luck of the Irish.

The Song Called "Kiss Of Death"

Night on Brocken: the Review Part 2 Which Includes the Great Song Kiss of Death

Kiss of Death is about the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot. The lead guitar work in that song is impressive and very catchy. There are two instrumental songs in this album, S.E.K. and Shadowfax. The first one is just a short acoustic instrumental that gives the listener a brief break. Misfit has been one of my favorite songs on the album. The song is about someone that has been trained since his youth to be a brave warrior. His father has taught him all the necessary tricks that he needs to win. The boy grows up to be a man. He is confronted by an evil serpent and other wild beasts. He knows that the only way to win is to use his swordsmanship and slay those beasts. He will either live by the sword or die by the sword. But as we all know, throughout history, brave warriors have eventually succumbed to something and empires have eventually fallen. Empires eventually fall because they attract too many enemies. Shadowfax, the second instrumental of the album has some more Iron Maiden influences in the guitar work. It starts out at a slow to mid pace before getting melodic and then speeding up as the song finishes. Little Soldier is a humorous attempt to describe a little boy that is playing around acting like he is soldier in the army. His mother calls him in for lunch, knowing that he is playing too rough with the other kids. He is also bothering the girls and is told to leave them alone. Night on Brocken is a good progressive metal album but it is not quite good enough to be considered an elite heavy metal album.

One song that some of the metal fans may skip over is the song called Damnation and in this song, John Arch actually has vocals that are understandable even more so than the rest of the album and this is a song that is about what happened throughout history from the dawn of time. The middle of the song is influenced by 1970’s Black Sabbath. What are the solid songs of this album? They are Kiss of Death, Misfits, Shadowfax, Buried Alive, and The Calling.


"Misfit"

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© 2016 Ara Vahanian