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GUTTER BALLET

Savatage

Progressive Metal


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Marc Baum
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This album is a breaking point in Savatage's career. "Gutter Ballet" is quite different than their previous releases, which were US power/plain heavy metal. This is much more ''sofisticated'', there's much more piano used here, more ballads... It's even maybe slightly progressive for that time. You could say, that "Gutter Ballet" is a templar for all later Savatage albums, since they became more and more piano and orchestra orientated.

Jon Oliva, is, as always, great. From really great emotional singing, to some awesome screams, everything great. He also really shows his writing talent on here. Some of the best lyrics ever. Just check out the pinnacle tracks "Gutter Ballet" or "When The Crowds Are Gone". What to say about guitars? Criss Oliva is one of the most underrated guitarists in the world, and he also proves that with this record. Very nice riffs, leads and solos. Any single note he plays on this album has more feeling and expression, what many highly acclaimed guitarists bring on one whole record.

As said, there are really some classics up here. "Gutter Ballet" is a great 6 minute power anthem of the highest order. It starts off with a piano intro, then the guitars come in and make a really memorable atmosphere. The chorus is one of the best, it's really memorable and a great singalong. "Temptation Revelation" and "Silk And Steel" are both instrumentals, but they are one of the many highlights of the album. Criss did a really great job here. "When The Crowds Are Gone" is a great ballad. It also contains some verses later heard in Believe from Streets. Also a very memorable song. "Hounds" was written by Criss and it has sort of an doomy atmosphere to it. Great main riff!

"The Unholy" could be from any classic 80s Savatage power metal album. It has that power vibe to it, Jon vocals are also very suitable. One of the hardest songs on the album. "Summer's Rain" is also a great ballad, nice guitar sound!

You couldn't say, that there is any bad songs on this one, there are just songs, that aren't as good as the others. That would be mostly harder songs, like "She's In Love", "Thorazine Shuffle" and "Mentally Yours". And again, by all means, these songs aren't bad.

If you like to get into Savatage this is the right CD for you. It's the transition album of their past sound and their future-direction. "Gutter Ballet" was and is the most important album for Savatage. To reach the final breakthrough in the global scene and set a really huge milestone into the world of symphonic/power metal. This album shows the combination of the power metal-style of past records with the more orchestral, symphonic approach of later records perfectly and if you really want to buy just one record by this metal legend, buy this! (Buy all!!) ;-)

album rating: 10/10 points = 98 % on MPV scale = 5/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Report this review (#27452)
Posted Saturday, May 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
1 stars I have, always seen this recording praised by so many people ,but the only people who love it are the ones who dislike their earlier material.Mainly those who have a hate for Heavy Metal ,this is not even Prog Metal either,i dont know what it is. All i remember is when i brought it, it did nothing for me,totally boring,a band now trying to get into areas where only fools would tread .Savatage should have stuck to what they were best at playing full on power metal and sure doing progressive and interesting ideas with there brand of metal but always staying true to there original style.The tital track is weak poorly constructed ,the instrumentals are rudimentary ,just like the rest of the tracks.The album cover artwork basically Sucks,that sinnister look of child with dagger on Sirens cover is fantastic.This album is very well crafted in recording and really is very slick, in all production elements,it trys to hard to please some sort of audience and delivers nothing , its really just an empty vessel.
Report this review (#27458)
Posted Monday, April 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
james_centreb
5 stars This record should be a empty vessel? Better clean ears before listening, because this album is really a masterpiece in power/symphonic metal! I am a old fan from the very beginning (as "Sirens" saw the light of day) and always loved their early work, but I excepted their '89 appeared symphonic style completely, 'cause it made them finally to legends in rock/metal history. People who call a song like the title track of this album boring, don't understand the band, never had and never will. "When The Crowds Are Gone" is one of the great ballads on this planet and it hangs really heavy on my heart. This album is the one that you should have first, it's a perfect combination of past's power metal side of the band and the new symphonic edge. The guitar work from Criss Oliva is purely beautiful and virtuosy on that record, just listen to the solos in the title track, "When The Crowds Are Gone", or "Mentally Yours" for example and make a mind about it. So sad that he died in '93, he was one of the best and most under-rated guitarists on the world. If you want to hear Savatage on their peak, listen to this record and "Streets". All people who stand this band in their way, f**k off! Sorry, but that must had been said!
Report this review (#27460)
Posted Saturday, May 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Incredible record! Should be heard by all metal-interests who also like symphonic stuff! You will hear on this album: Great orchestral arrangements, heavy riffing, great piano and superbly vocals by Jon "Mountain King" Oliva! This album started a new genre: Dramatic metal! There are still tracks like "Of Rage and War", "She's in Love", "Thorazine Shuffle" and "The Unholy" which are 100 % power metal, but stand-outs are the title track and the both incredible ballads "When the Crowds are Gone" and "Summer's Rain". So old fans and new will be very rewarded with this masterpiece, which is a definitive must!
Report this review (#27463)
Posted Saturday, May 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I think this album can be divided on two parts. One of this parts is made of songs in the same style of their previous record "Hall of the Mountain King", but in a more evolucionated way and with a better instrumental development. And the other half of the album consists in the purest symphonic/progressive metal songs, very advanced and anticipated in sound and composition, because we are talking of a record released in 1989, but that's still sounding modern today. This is the diferenciation in my opinion:

-Heavy Metal songs:

Of Rage And War She's in Love Hounds The Unholy Mentally Yours Thorazine Shuffle

-Symphonic Metal songs:

Gutter Ballet Temptation Revelation When The Crowds are Gone Silk and Steel Summer's Rain

For that, this is clearly a transition album between the strong heavy metal of their past and their future masterpieces made of the best symphonic and progressive metal I've heard in my life. Nevertheless, I don't consider Gutter Ballet a masterpiece, because I think that She's In Love is a weak track, and I don't like The Unholy too much.

But another great songs like the immortally wonderful Gutter Ballet, the beautiful mid- tempo When The Crowds are Gone (whith the best Criss Oliva's guitar solo in my opinion, and with a great connection with their incoming marvellous ballad Believe...) and great heavy songs like Of Rage and War, the scary Hounds and the trashy Thorazine Shuffle, make this album an excellent addition to any collection.

With this record, started the true Savatage's legend!!!!

Report this review (#42794)
Posted Sunday, August 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Savatage keeps on improving from record to record and establishing in the melodic heavy metal field.

"Gutter Ballet" is by far their best record by that time both in songwriting, musicianship and lyric content. Paul O'Neil who arrived as a manager on the previous record (Hall of the Mountain King) allowed the band to unleash their talent and thus began a long and valuable colaboration between the band and him. By this time Criss Oliva became another songwriting force inside the band alongside his brother Jon. The impressive opener "Of Rage and War" is in my opinion their first progressive metal song and holds an explicit critic to the world power leaders. Some tracks features the personal side of Jon Oliva ("When the Crowds are gone") while others go back to his horror stories (the fantastic "Hounds"). The disc ends with a trilogy ("Mentally yours", Summer's Rain" and "Thorazine Shuffle") about a kid who belongs to a dysfunctional family and developes some mental problems and ends in a psychiatric center.

This great album was just the beginning of the best years of Savatage and should please metal lovers and prog lovers.

4 stars: in my opinion Savatage made better albums than this one in later years...

Report this review (#44962)
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
platinumblond
1 stars I really dont see what the interest is in this album,Savatage at the time of Gutter Ballet didn't know what they should be,be it heavy metal of progressive rock,they obviously did'nt like the style of music they had been producing up to Power Of The Night.Otherwise they would have improved on this heavy style so instead they came to this,Gutter Ballet which seems interesting on the surface,but it lacks power,real power,its' lame. There's no doubt that Savatage have plenty of talent,as can be seen by all their work from Siren's up to Power of the Night,which are power thrash classic's,but Gutter Ballet is weak and dull comparison,its basically boring and has aged dreadfully it sounds old. The production sounds more polished then previous efforts,but thats its major downfull,its almost sounds like any other USA slick metal act,its a new Savatage,great production but less power. If you like well produced so called prog metal,then you may find it of interest,but i would advise anyone to check out savatage's earlier work which is so much more raw interesting and more massively powerful,and seems so much more interesting over the years to listen to than Gutter ballet.
Report this review (#56687)
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
1800iareyay
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Gutter Ballet, along with its predecessor Hall of the Mountain King, marked the band's movement from straight-forward power metal to one of the top prog metal bands around. Chriss Olivia's pyrotechnics are augmented with the addition of Chris Cafferty, allowing for multiple melodies. John's keyboards are more prominent, especially on the instrumental Tempation Revelation. His vocals remind me of Udo Dirkshneider of the band Accept. If you haven't heard Accept, pictured the range and power of Scorpions frontman Klaus Meine combined with the tough as nails gravel of AC/DC's Brian Johnson.

Instrumentally, this is a superb album. Chriss' inventive work all too painfully displays just how good he was and that it's a shame he was never noticed until after his death. Lyrically, John offers up a mixed bag. Songs like Of Rage and War, the anthemic title track, When the Crowds Are Gone, and Chriss' eerie Hounds are great, but the rest of the tracks with lyrics are standard power metal anthems that lead up to the chorus which usually consists of little more than the words in the song title as well as "Yeah!". John would pen better lyrics down the line, but he does a good job of slowly pulling the band out of their power metal roots and into symphonic territory.

The off-kilter lyrics keep this from being a true classic, but fans of proto-prog metal (Queensryche, Fates Warning, Death) should start with either this album or its predecessor, or even the straight-forward rockin' debut Sirens.

Grade: B

Report this review (#105619)
Posted Thursday, January 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Another well done album by this extraordinary band. From this album Savatage try to be more complex than a usual heavy metal band and most of the time they succeded. This is my second best after the masterpiece Streets. I might say this is a breaking point in Savatage's career, because Gutter Ballet is different than the previous recordings, is more sophisticated with more piano and more prog elements then any releases of the band in the '80. This album made a quite good succes because of the track Gutter ballet. To be honest this is not a band for everybody, this is clever heavy/power band with prog elements. The music is super with fabulous orchestration as always, leading by the master Jon Oliva, do not forget his brother Criss Oliva who is one of the best guitarhero of that decade and of the early '90 'till his tragic death in 1993. Forte tracks: all, and who listen to Crimson Glory, Queensryche and even Sanctuary this is the answer. 4 stars, and that reviewers who give one star to Gutter ballet must listen again because is not bad, from contrary is nearly a masterpiece. End
Report this review (#126298)
Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I would give this album 5 stars alone for the metal music, but under the point of view of prog, I give it 4 stars. The band was at the transition from heavy metal to metal with some operatic elements, hence the album contains both kinds of songs. The songs with a dramatic development are 'Gutter Ballet', 'When The Crowds Are Gone', 'Hounds' and 'Summer's Rain', bringing shifts of pace and intensity and some piano melodies. 'Of Rage and War', 'She's in Love', 'The Unholy' and 'Mentally Yours' are slightly straighter metal/hard rock songs - though the latter are dynamic as well. Here I have to point out 'The Unholy' which is very fast and rocking, yet one incredibly intense song, forming one of the best classic metal songs I know. 'When The Crowds Are Gone' on the other hand is a powerful ballad and became of the band's essential songs.

Resumingly there is not so much prog in here, at least at the first sight. But with the highly emotional yet technically advanced guitar playing of Criss Oliva and the varied rhythm guitar riffs and drums, I believe this cannot leave any rockfan unmoved. Next to the guitar, singer Jon Oliva makes up the quality of this album, singing mostly with a high voice, sometimes fragile but most of the time strong and loud.

Report this review (#177276)
Posted Saturday, July 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Why I like so much this album? Great question. First thing. I bought it for the cover (In the past I did that a lot of times and it really works with albums like Leftoverture, Awaken the Guardian, Misplaced Childhood and Images and Words!) This painting is really beatiful and when I saw it in the store it was like somebody was calling me inside throught a mirror: come here... Those days (no internet!) in my country it was really impossible listen rock music in the radio, so I had to have faith in my own feelings and I pick up this piece of art. The combination with the dancer, the piano and the white Ibanez guitar it's just... beautiful. And what about the music. The first time you listen a band is always very special 'cause you don't know what you will find. At first, with the killer riffing in Of Rage and War and the desperate Jon Oliva shouts (perfect for the lyrics) I think woa! what a tremendous such trash metal band (bay area sound). But then, a delicate piano introduce one of the best metal, progressive, symphonic or rock songs ever written: Gutter Ballet. That was I ever was looking for, how to combine the power of hard rock and the beauty or classic prog rock (like Opeth in XXI Century). Temptation Revelation is a piano piece that introduce the best ballad written for the Oliva brothers, When the Crowds Are Gone, with a guitar solo that Chris probably is playing now every day in heaven. And then again Chris -a very underrated guitar player- plays with the acoustic guitar Silk and Steel a little piece who could sign Steve Hackett or Steve Howe in a classic album from the 70's. Then the album come back to the metal territories with a bunch of pieces that are instant classics to me. I enjoy specially the superb Summer's Rain intro and the frantic rhythm in Hounds. Well I could say a thousand more things, but my english it's not very rich and I leave you to discover this joy by yourself.
Report this review (#181815)
Posted Friday, September 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Stagnation wasn't in Savatage's vocabulary.

No, this release proves if anything, that Savatage had a fire under their asses, and a muse inspiration in the newly acquired Paul O'Neill. The writing is deeper and more complex than was on Hall of the Mountain King, but a bit of the fire was lost in the transition.

Still some of the songs are part of the best Savatage ever released. The furious opener Of Rage and War kicks things into a violent and hateful gear. It is then cut short by a soft piano line. I still get goosebumps when I hear those few key strokes. This begins one of their most glorious moments. Gutter Ballet has it all. A dark and imagery laden atmosphere, powerful and emotional playing, a solo that is exciting, and lyrics that are well written. Possibly the album highlight.

No, next you've a delightful instrumental called Temptation Revelation. And When The Crowds Are Gone has the boys at their most sentimental and theatrical. With impassioned screams and a piano metal style melded brilliantly. Silk And Steel follows, and is quite restrained in its endeavor.

the album is not without its weak moments. She's In Love could be filler if it didn't rock so well. Still, the banal lyrics and overall painfully plain sound don't fit in well with the overall rich atmosphere Gutter Ballet is so steeped in. Hounds is an epic monster, as it crashes about with epic riffs closing their jaws around your ears. Led by another fantastic cut, The Unholy rips freshly.

Mentally Yours is a great song, but I feel it is weaker than the rest of the magnificent material. Ballad time commences, with Summer's Rain. This has the most emotionally stirring melodies of the entire disc. Thorazine Shuffle ends with a thick strutting bang.

In all, they delve deeper into their newly found piano metal, while being held back slightly by their classic heavy metal roots. Excellent album.

Best Moment - Gutter Ballet

Worst Moment - She's In Love

**** Menageries

Report this review (#194970)
Posted Thursday, December 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Gutter Ballet" is the 5th full-length studio album by US, Florida based heavy/power metal act Savatage. The album was released through Atlantic Records in December 1989. There´s been one lineup change since the release of "Hall Of The Mountain King (1987)" as Chris Caffery has been added as a second guitarist (he is also credited for performing keyboards), making Savatage a five-piece on this release (although in reality Caffery didn´t perform on the album). Caffery had previously toured with Savatage. "Gutter Ballet" spawned two promotional videos for the title track and "When The Crowds Are Gone". Both videos were given repeated plays on the then prolific MTV Headbangers Ball show, which helped promote the album and heighten Savatage profile even more.

Stylistically "Gutter Ballet" marks a change in musical direction for Savatage. Main composer Jon Oliva (producer Paul O'Neill and guitarist Criss Oliva are also credited as main composers) got inspired by musicals and grander song arrangements after watching a performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "The Phantom of the Opera", and although the core sound of the album is still heavy/power metal, some of the compositions featured on the album are quite ambitious in nature, as a result of the new influences. It´s not that Savatage hadn´t entered more sophisticated compositional territories before (their use of parts of pieces by the classical composers Edward Grieg and Gustav Holst on "Prelude To Madness" from "Hall Of The Mountain King (1987)" is an example of that), but now those elements are more fully incorporated in the band´s music. Occasionally even to a point where you could label the music progressive. However as on past releases the progressive metal elements are still only a secondary influence in the band´s music. This is still first and foremost heavy/power metal delivered with great energy and bite.

"Gutter Ballet" opens with the hard edged and heavy "Of Rage And War", which features the classic heavy/power metal Savatage sound, but we´re taken on quite a diverse journey during the next four tracks. The title track is a relatively progressive track featuring piano, orchestral arrangements, and a musical style build up. The arrangement is clever, sophisticated, and powerful. "Temptation Revelation" is an instrumental which is obviously written to showcase Criss Oliva´s considerable guitar skills (and succeeds in doing that while still being an interesting composition), before the power ballad type "When The Crowds Are Gone" kicks in. It´s yet another incredibly well composed track with a strong chorus hookline. The acoustic guitar instrumental "Silk And Steel" finishes the adventurous run of tracks, before the album settles in with more familiar sounding heavy/power metal tracks like "She's In Love", "Hounds", "The Unholy", and "Mentally Yours". The original vinyl version of "Gutter Ballet" closed with the power ballad "Summer's Rain", while the CD version featured the bonus track "Thorazine Shuffle" after "Summer's Rain". So looking at the tracklist it´s mostly during the first part of the album that you´ll find surprises in the musical direction, compared to the previous releases by the band.

The musicianship is on a high level on all posts. The rhythm section of drummer Steve Wacholz and bassist Johnny Lee Middleton are a tightly nit unit, delivering pounding organic beats, driving the music forward in a great energetic fashion. Lead vocalist Jon Oliva takes his performance up a notch here compared to his vocals on the previous releases by the band (and that says a lot since his performances on those past releases were very strong). His raw rusty voice is commanding and powerful, yet always melodic and sensitive. Criss Oliva delivers one jaw-dropping moment after another throughout the album. His riffs are delivered with a rare bite and conviction, and his solos and licks are not only incredibly well played, but there is something special about his tone too, that not many guitarists are able to rival nor duplicate. You get the feeling that he bleeds notes. That´s the kind of intimacy he sounds like he has with his guitar. It´s nothing less than a perfect symbiosis.

"Gutter Ballet" also features a very well sounding production. It´s heavy and powerful, yet detailed and clear. A perfect and tasteful sound for the material on the album. Upon conclusion "Gutter Ballet" is an album which shows Savatage developing their sound, but there is still a good balance between the epic and sophisticated moments and the hard edged rocking parts, and therefore the more adventurous elements never take away from the power of the music, which in some cases can be the downfall of similar releases. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.

Report this review (#260314)
Posted Monday, January 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Savatage is another one of the bands that I've listened to a lot during my teens and therefore can't help but feel nostalgia every time I hear one of those Jon Oliva penned ballads. It doesn't really help that I'm a huge sucker for well written rock ballads to begin with.

Ever since Jim Steinman started his decline towards the end of the '80s (remember that most of compositions on Bat Out Of Hell II were composed long before the album's '93-release), Savatage became the next best thing during that period between late '80s and early '90s. Jon Oliva came up with some of the best material of his life in that period and from what I can tell it all began with this release.

I'm somewhat of a latecomer when it comes to Gutter Ballet since it actually was my forth and so far final Savatage-album purchase. I've heard the title track on many different occasions but hesitated strongly before purchasing the album. The deal breaker in this case was the second single off this album titled When The Crowds Are Gone. After hearing it for the first time I just had to give into the temptation of hearing the rest.

The album did impress me from early on even though most of these compositions are in a sort of transition phase between the two different eras of the band's history. Savatage originally started off as a carbon copy of Judas Priest and judging from the early material I've heard they really had a long way to go in order to evolve their sound to the level they show on Gutter Ballet.

The first track, titled Of Rage And War, is a good example of Savatage's early repertoire although this time with a much higher production quality. From what I've heard about the album's title-track it happened to be written at last minute notice after that the band's drummer had already left the studio and Jon Oliva played the drums on the recording. The final result has become one of the most recognized Savatage composition to date and it marked the change in direction for all the upcoming releases.

Most of the material here is pretty solid but I still would like to point out When The Crowds Are Gone as my personal favorite. The trilogy of songs at the end of the album would be my runner-up choices. I consider them inseparable since they are suppose to form the band's first conceptual suite and this type of storytelling will definitely get even better with the release of Streets.

Gutter Ballet is an early take on the formula that would pay-off with Savatage's next release so if you enjoy this type of music then this album is a must-have in your collection.

***** star songs: When The Crowds Are Gone (5:46)

**** star songs: Of Rage And War (4:47) Gutter Ballet (6:20) Temptation Revelation (Instrumental) (2:57) Silk And Steel (Instrumental) (2:58) Hounds (6:28) The Unholy (4:37) Mentally Yours (5:20) Summer's Rain (4:33) Thorazine Shuffle (4:46)

*** star songs: She's In Love (3:52)

Report this review (#270434)
Posted Monday, March 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars A long time before bands such as Therion or Apocalyptica made their groundbreaking symphonic or opera metal masterpieces, a long time before symphonic gothic metal bands such as Nightwish got into mainstream, a long time before bands such as Metallica would try to collaborate with big orchestras and a long time before epic metal all star bands such as Aina, Ayreon or Avantasia made their appearances, there was a young American band that decided to get away from their power and thrash metal roots and chose the hard path to follow instead of recreating an album in the key of their infamous "Hall Of The Mountain King" record that got amazing critics and is considered nowadays as a cult album. The mentioned bands are all something like the intellectual babies of Savatage in one way or the other. This young band decided to try the courageous attempt to fusion heavy metal music with symphonic approaches. They didn't take the radical step to create an entire symphonic metal album and also put a few more traditional American power metal tracks on the record, but the most important and longest tracks on the record went into a rather new direction. It's somewhat a transitional album as the band headed for more operatic sounds on the later records and later founded the infamous Trans-Siberian Orchestra to conquer the world with their new interpretation of classical music.

It all started here when Savatage released "Gutter Ballet" which is one of the band's strongest or even their best record but without a doubt their most important concerning their maturity and climax of creativity. The album starts with a very atmospheric and angry power metal song called "Of Rage And War" that leads us on a wrong path and let us expect another strong heavy power metal record. There are a few more songs of that kind on the record like the powerful "She's In Love" for example.

But the title track already leaves us stunning. A beautifully emotional and yet peaceful piano interlude let us guess and expect what might come after the first minute of the song. Finally, we realize in the most stunning way that piano melodies, decent violins, melodic guitars, powerful drums and pumping bass guitars got into a pumping fusion in this unique and experimental track. Over all those instruments thrones the powerful and perfectly imperfect voice of Jon Oliva. There is nothing kitsch or artificial about this track as there are no backing choirs, no female guest singers, no national state orchestra with one hundred musicians and more. This song is about true emotions and is overwhelming in emotions without being overwhelming in instruments. The ballad "When The Crowds Are Gone" goes even further and the sound is mostly reduced to a haunting piano melody and Oliva's unique voice before some melodic guitars finally get in and dominate the song. There is so much power and true emotion in this quiet track that it might honestly make cry any one that has a weakness for great rock ballads. "Summer's Rain" and the bonus track "Thorazine Shuffle" slightly go in the same direction and has very honest and interesting lyrics why the music is a little bit less memorable. The soft and touching instrumentals underline softly the symphonic direction of this album.

The band is already able to vary with its symphonic influences. "Hounds" and "The Unholy" sounds very dark and atmospheric and have something truly majestic in their sound. Another true highlight is the fairly underrated "Mentally Yours" that combines the anger and power of the band's older works with the intellectual majesty on the new horizon. The band only uses the instrumental efforts to underline the atmosphere of an epic story while the powerful vocals and sharp riffs don't lose any of their power.

This diversified and highly professional and intellectual album is more than an experiment; it's the birth of a new genre or at least a major milestone and influence for the future of metal music. With their first try, Savatage are already able to create ten or eleven mesmerizing and unforgettable anthems. There's not a single weak song on this record, not a single filler and even though every song sounds different and concentrates on a different feeling, story or musical expression, there is a clear guiding line on this epic record and the high quality of every song makes this album sound very coherent instead of just being a collection of great tracks. Back then, this record was easily the record of the year and while other metal bands disappointed towards the end of the last millennium, Savatage emerged and showed how one could be able to change and prosper without getting unfaithful towards its own past. It's a pity that this band has never truly gained further attention as this album might easily please to rock music maniacs and fans of classical music. This record is a great milestone in the still young history of metal music and it happens quite often that I listen intensively to this inspiring record from time to time that has not lost anything of its initial magic.

Originally published on www.metal-archives.com on March 9th of the year 2011.

Report this review (#380772)
Posted Saturday, January 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Deploying some orchestral and keyboard hits to their grandiose style of US power metal might make you think that Savatage were running a risk of descending into flat-out pretentious pomposity, but on Gutter Ballet they walk the tightrope magnificently. Not quite going into prog metal territory but certainly letting off warning shots at its borders, not so much going full symphonic metal with the orchestral elements but instead using the strings to add a certain much to their more traditional power metal style, Savatage juggle numerous musical ingredients with skill and produce an album which is simultaneously punchy and nuanced, accessible and intricate.
Report this review (#1645196)
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars While there's always been subtle classical and theatrical elements to Savatage's music, it wasn't until 1989's 'Gutter Ballet' that the band really started to take their sound in a more ambitious direction. Inspired by musicals such as 'Phantom of the Opera', there's a much more grandiose feel to this album than anything they'd done before, and would only lead to the band transitioning from power metal to more progressive territory.

One notable change in the band's sound is the more prominent use of pianos and keyboards. While there were always some keys lingering in the background, 'Gutter Ballet' sees them become a more integral part of the music. It works amazingly well, and really distinguishes Savatage's unique identity.

Of course, the musicianship itself is fantastic. With each member, building upon the momentum they'd garnered with previous album, 'Hall of the Mountain King', being on top form. Jon Oliva's vocals really suit the more theatrical approach well, and his guitarist brother Criss Oliva's blistering guitars are as incredible as ever. Working with producer/songwriter Paul O'Neill, this was a time of growth for the band, and each member really plays their part to help the band mature.

With highlights that include 'Gutter Ballet', 'When the Crowds Are Gone', 'Of Rage and War', 'She's in Love', 'Hounds', 'Thorazine Shuffle' and 'Mentally Yours', there's an abundance of killer material here that constantly shifts from heavy to melodic, but never lets up in quality.

1987's 'Hall of the Mountain King' may have been the album where Savatage hit their stride and started a run of successful (critically, if not commercially) albums, but for me, 'Gutter Ballet' is where they truly defined their sound and began a creative run that would see them continually release albums of high standards.

Report this review (#1941417)
Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2018 | Review Permalink

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