The Metal Crypt on Facebook  The Metal Crypt's YouTube Channel
Classic Review: Savatage - Gutter Ballet
Gutter Ballet

Label: Atlantic Records
Year released: 1989
Duration: 52:25
Tracks: 11
Genre: Symphonic Metal


Review online: September 8, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers' Rating
How do you rate this release?

Rated 4.29/5 (85.85%) (65 Votes)

Album number five for the Sava-crew witnessed a change of direction and a good bit of experimenting with new sounds. Not surprising, considering that with the much-lauded "Hall of the Mountain King" the 'Tage had taken their old sound as far as they could, and it was innovate or stagnate. With "Gutter Ballet" they had the nads to try something new.

I am surprised Savatage don't get more credit for at least helping to launch the whole 'symphonic metal' wave that is now so prevalent, as their epic/orchestral approach on this CD presages a lot of the stylings of modern power metal, and bands from Nightwish to Kamelot obviously owe a lot to this band, and this album in particular. About half of this CD is more traditional heavy metal just like Savatage's older works. "Of Rage and War", the pounding epic of "Hounds" and especially "The Unholy"- which features the best damn riff Chris Oliva ever wrote – are good old riff and chorus metal like the 'Tage have always done, and done well. The thing that raises this album above the ordinary is the other half: "Gutter Ballet", "When the Crowds are Gone", "Summer's Rain" – epic metal cuts with a heady mix of pounding riffage, tasty solos, and the (at the time) unheard of use of piano and orchestral backup to create a huge operatic sound that was unlike anything anyone had heard at the time. After the booming, symphonic riffs of the title cut nothing in metal was ever quite the same.

The cover art is another fine Gary Smith painting, and the lyrics on this album are among the best Savatage have ever written. "Of Rage and War" is fairly stupid, but "When the Crowds are Gone" is truly arresting – a heartfelt, moving and emotional song that does not lack for kick.

Savatage have never gotten the credit or the praise they deserve, least of all for the influence they have had on the genre, but this is a groundbreaking album from a veteran outfit that contains some absolutely stellar moments. In the future Savatage would delve even more fully into progressive/orchestral music, but this is where it started. "Gutter Ballet" is a bit uneven in places, and some of the more straight-up tracks are only so-so, but the good stuff here is very, very good. This one is a piece of metal history, and a genuine classic.

More about Savatage...
Review: Dead Winter Dead (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
Review: Dead Winter Dead (reviewed by Mjölnir)
Review: Edge of Thorns (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Fight for the Rock (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
Review: Ghost in the Ruins (reviewed by Hermer Arroyo)
Review: Hall Of The Mountain King (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Review: Hall Of The Mountain King (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Handful of Rain (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Poets and Madmen (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
Review: Power Of The Night (reviewed by 4th Horseman)
Review: Sirens (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
Review: Streets: A Rock Opera (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
Review: The Dungeons Are Calling (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: The Wake of Magellan (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Click below for more reviews
Latest 0-9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Various Books/Zines 

The Metal Crypt - Crushing Posers Since 1999
Copyright  © 1999-2024, Michel Renaud / The Metal Crypt.  All Rights Reserved.