Sunday, October 12, 2008

From The Gutter To The Stage

After Jon Oliva saw a performance of Phantom Of The Opera in Toronto, Canada he envisioned a new direction for Savatage. Focusing on more of a progressive edge the band incorporated larger use of piano and keyboards as well as grander themes and an overall theatrical sound.

If you ask me "Gutter Ballet"s sound is not really seen again until "Handful Of Rain" although "Streets" and "Edge Of Thorns" have a largely progressive feel, just not as grandeur. This album is really like a new beginning for Savatage which would grow and nurture for the rest of the bands career. Despite the softer edge to the metal, some of the songs here are the heaviest the band has recorded.

For example, the albums opener "Of Rage And War" is slab of pure heavy metal with a darker edge and a pre-chorus with biting crunch. "Mentally Yours" is a solid chunk of heavy metal reminiscent of "Power Of The Night" era. "Thorazine Shuffle" is an eerie mid-paced cruncher very much in the vein of "Hall Of The Mountain King"

"Hounds" is a hauntingly dark tune, ,however, it feels a little disjointed ala "Fountain Of Youth" but not as bad. "Unholy" is probably my favourite of the metal tunes because of its straight up '80's metal sound with galloping guitars and a super melodic chorus that would make Iron Maiden envious. "She's In Love" is a flat out rocker that seems to be a staple in every Savatage album up to this point. Kind of cheesy, but not as much as say "Hard For Love". Not a bad tune, it just doesn't feel right.

The theatrical grandeur arrives on the 2nd song and title track "Gutter Ballet". The piano work is simplistic yet very moving which leads into a huge wall of sound, thick and epic and operatic. "Temptation Revelation" is a moving instrumental like HOTMK's "Last Dawn" only more complex while building into a cacophony of symphony."Summer's Rain" is a melancholic power ballad with some great emotive guitar work and moving melodies.

My favourite song on this album is the sombre, yet inspiring "When The Crowds Are Gone". The songs bleak themes are poignant and the music is huge and theatrical. It's a very moving tune and Jon's voice is full of passion and Chriss' solo is full of conviction.

"Silk and Steel" is a little showcase of Chriss Oliva's guitar finesse with this acoustic ditty. Some impressive playing.

"Gutter Ballet" is a strong step forward for Savatage and the shift in style I think helped keep them relevant instead of being washed away by the new wave of hair bands and grunge in the 90's.

Next up is Savatage's "Streets: A Rock Opera" which is a superb album and features my all time favourite song (not just from Savatage's catalogue, my absolute favourite tune) "Believe".


Post a Comment

<< Home