Gutter Ballet is the fifth full-length album produced by the American progressive metal band Savatage. This was the second album created under the direction of producer Paul O'Neill and was initially released in 1989.
This album was a true turning point for the band, for after Jon Oliva watched Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical The Phantom of the Opera in Toronto, he decided to change the sound of the band, from a heavy metal to a more progressive sound, which is reflected in songs such as "When the Crowds Are Gone" and "Gutter Ballet". Gutter Ballet is not a concept album, but the final three songs ("Mentally Yours", "Summer's Rain", "Thorazine Shuffle") are a conceptual suite dealing with a single character as revealed by the band in interviews.
The original title for the record was Temptation Revelation, but this was changed to Hounds of Zaroff which was a Steve Wacholz suggestion. As late as May 1989, the eventual title track of the album had not been written and the band was having doubts surrounding the album title. The title Gutter Ballet finally came from that of a play producer Paul O'Neill had written ten years earlier and which would later make-up the majority of the band's next work, Streets. The song "Gutter Ballet" was written with just O'Neill, Jon and Criss Oliva in the studio. Jon's drumming skill was competent enough to perform on the track and he also provided the bass guitar duties for the track. Had the band originally stuck with the story set-out in Paul O'Neill's original 1979 story, the song "When the Crowds Are Gone" would have followed Streets track "A Little Too Far".
Two videos from the album entered rotation on MTV, "Gutter Ballet" (filmed at the beginning of 1990 in New York) and "When the Crowds Are Gone". The former track became a staple of Headbangers Ball and as a result, both Jon Oliva and Chris Caffery were invited to join host Riki Rachtman for an interview in 1990.
Many additional songs already written, before the decison of the change of style, were unused and subsequently published as bonus tracks, in the Sirens and The Dungeons Are Calling 2002 Silver reissues, some of them were also re-worked and published by Jon Oliva's Pain.
Note: Chris Caffery doesn't play on the album but he was credited with guitars and keyboards and is pictured in the album's booklet "both to prepare the fans for the line-up they'd see on tour and confirm his permanent member status".