An analysis of the lyrics from one of the impressive songs created by American heavy metal band Savatage.
Savatage represents undoubtedly one of the best bands in the history of American metal thanks to a few great albums which combine heavy metal with progressive sounds and symphonic elements.One of the turning points in the evolution of this great band of the past(unfortunately) is their 1989 masterpiece ‘Gutter Ballet’,an album which makes the transition between their early heavy metal albums and a much more complex sound that will characterize their following works.
The album is full of great tracks,but for me the greatest remains the title track,’Gutter Ballet’,a combination of piano and symphonic music with heavy riffs and great lyrics.The song has a slow start,then the tempo gradually increases until the lyrics begin,and the listener can immediately distinguish the presence of two plans,one which contains fantasy elements and another one which is more realistic:on the one hand we have ‘a concrete paradise’,'neon cuts the eye’ or ’sirens screaming in the night’,which indicate that the song describes a night in a bbig city,while on the other hand we have fantasy characters which seem to come from the world of stories:’the jester’,'menagerie,’the unicorn’.Thus the plan of reality and that of fantasy are intertwined,creating an atmospherefull of both mystery and danger.
Life in the streets of a big city at night is thus metaphorically presented as extremely diverse and full of strange things and sounds,which are reflected by the orchestra which plays ‘on a dark and lonely night’,as a background for all the events which happen in the streets beyond ‘the fading light’;the jester becomes a witness and at the same time a protagonist of all those happenings,some happy,other sad or even tragic,which take place in the concrete jungle:’Another death to mourn/Another child is born.’all these events seem to be part of a huge stage where all the inhabitants of the city are part of a never ending play which forces them to act in different registers;sometimes they are comedians,while in other occasions they act in dramas.The intertwining of all those elements creates a ’strange reality’,the ‘gutter ballet’ representing the perfect metaphor to describe this duality which characterizes the atmosphere in big cities,where art and beauty coexist with the ugliness of real life and its constant torments and troubles.Eventually,this duality turns the place into a huge circus,a ‘menagerie’ where sometimes people can be worse than wild animals,but at the same time the orchestra which never stops playing indicates that,no mater how bad things seem,there’s always room for art and poetry to keep the human spirit alive.Thus we have a whole picture of a big city at night,sometimes mysterious and full of dangers,but also beautiful in some occasions.
‘Gutter Ballet’represents one of those great songs which make me love Savatage and I still hope that one day the band will reunite and come with new material,like many other rock bands did.Even if that doesn’t happen,they will always remain one of the greatest American metal,and ‘Gutter Ballet’ is just one of the reasons for which this band is really worth listening.