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on May 5, 2004
Falling Into Infinity is the often-maligned album by Dream Theater. Hard-core DT fans will tell you that this is the sell-out album, the one where they abandoned their roots and tried to make radio-friendly music. So it may come as some surprise that this is one of my favorite albums by Dream Theater. It's not perfect, and there are a few rotten apples. It has a lot less technical prowess than many of DT's other albums, but it does feature the best of John Petrucci's guitar playing, and many of the best vocal melodies written by the band. My opinion about technicality is that it is a route towards expression of what the band might aim for, if they choose to take that route; it is not in itself successful music. Fortunately they realized that when they wrote this album.
New Millenium (7/10): The keyboard intro is a little whacko, but the guitar/bass parts that follow are great. Overall, it is an okay song.
You Not Me (5/10): James LaBrie's attempts to sound rough aren't convincing. The song as a whole is very uninteresting.
Peruvian Skies (9/10): Beautiful chorus, a good mix of heavy and light moments, and a great guitar solo.
Hollow Years (8/10): Call it mainstream, call it sell-out, call it catchy... I don't care. This is a great song, and even greater live. It does have a very mainstream sound to it, with a mostly accoustic guitar and catchy chorus line.
Burning My Soul (6/10): Has some good riffs, but the vocals are annoying, and the lyrics cheesy.
Hell's Kitchen (9/10): An instrumental with some great soaring guitar work and weird but good key changes. One of DT's best instrumentals.
Lines in the Sand (10/10): Starts off with some back and forth change between a lonely synthesizer and a lonely distorted guitar. From here it builds to make a true Dream Theater classic. It features a phenomenal bluesy solo. Petrucci has never poured as much emotion into a solo as he does in this song. If it were much longer, it could well be the greatest guitar solo of all time. There are some other great instrumental parts which follow later in the song.
Take Away My Pain (8/10): The vocal melody here is great, especially the bridge which then leads into another gem of a Petrucci solo.
Just Let Me Breathe (6/10): It has some decent riffs, but other than that the song strikes me as too direct with its intent, and often cheesy. I don't particularly like the vocal melody either.
Anna Lee (9/10): This song is so gorgeous. A lot of people seem to hate it though. It's another one with a somewhat mainstream sound, but who cares about that? The vocal melody is breathtaking, and Petrucci pulls off a great guitar solo full of feeling.
Trial of Tears (10/10): Dream Theater's best song ever? It's debatable; it certainly has some competition with a few other songs. What I will say is that this song is an incredible epic, and one of the few songs to feature lyrics written by the bassist, John Myung. It's a shame, because it shows he should clearly be given more opportunities to write lyrics. The vocals are great, and carry a sadder emotion than most of the rest of the album (even Take Away My Pain, which sounds more upbeat than it should). The guitar solo is out of this world, and probably my favorite solo ever by JP. It is loaded with emotion, but not only that, it feels as though it drastically changes emotion every time the solo changes from one key to the next. And when that's over, you get a great keyboard solo by Derek Sherinian. Normally I really don't like what DT has tended to do with synthesizers, but this part is great, and it continues much of the same emotional turmoil that the previous guitar solo accomplished.
Other DT fans will surely disagree, but I tend to recommend this album first for people looking to start getting into Dream Theater. So many potential fans are turned off by the pretentious wankery that overflows many of DTs other albums. This album is all about the songs. 7.9 / 10, or 4 out of 5 stars. Could have been a 5 star album if a few of the bad apples in the bunch were just a little more inspired.
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on March 30, 2001
As a fan of prog rock, I surprise even myself at rating FII as my favorite DT album. I don't need to harp on the fact that they tried for a more radio-friendly approach (there are 70+ reviews about that already). I simply present to you, the reader/listener, an excellent album, well produced, and full of crafty rock songs. As much as I love Awake, Change of Seasons, Images and Words and Scenes from a Memory (and BOY, do I LOVE those), I grudgingly rank FII as my favorite disc. Why? Hard to say. Upon early listens, New Millenium, Peruvian Skies and You not Me were instant favs... but after a few years, I must say, Trial of Tears, Lines in the Sand and particularly Anna Lee rank among some of the best prog-metal that I've heard. Anna Lee is the one song I always skipped (you know the one I mean - when you really dig a new album, you like most of it but always skip that one track... track #10 was that one on this album for me, for a couple of years..) but now it is one of my favorites. Simply a gorgeous song. And Trial of Tears is an outstanding closer, not at all the overblown, overlong song that prior reviews would have you believe. Once again, I can't express to you just how much I love all of DT's output, but I also can't express just how much I love to air drum, air guitar, and sing along to these tracks. La Brie, Portnoy, Petrucci and Myung have never sounded better, and for interest's sake, the Rush influence is unmistakeable on this album. I heartily recommend it.
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on March 9, 2001
Ever since the '70's Progressive Rock era paved the way for overblown '80's self-indulgence, the artistic quality to music has been lost to hyped-up, radio-friendly, instantly-popular hit singles that have the shelflife of a dying horse. The only relatively new band that has managed to inspire the spirit of musical experimentation is Tool. That's what makes Dream Theater's music a breath of fresh air, and "Falling into Infinity" has to be one of their best albums. There are recognizable elements of Queensryche, King Crimson, Yes, and early Metallica, all blended together to showcase great musical talent on the part of the band members, both in a technical sense and in an artistic sense. The tempo changes are reminiscent of Rush (maybe not as complex, but still just as explosive), the juxtaposition of ethereal synthesizers with heavy guitar licks (heavy both in distorted crunch and in the energy and feeling the players put into it), and the great lyrics and vocals come together seamlessly in songs like "Hollow Years" and "New Millennium." Not quite loud enough to appeal to chronic metalheads, but the musical proficiency of this band is enough to attract true fans of progressive rock. This is a wonderful album from a wonderful band who put the art back in art-rock. It's an album that is destined to take your way of thinking about music to a different plane. Listen to it!
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on May 11, 2001
For one reason or another, "Falling Into Infinity" seems to be one of the more unpopular releases among fans of Dream Theater....at least that is how I understand it.Well, maybe I'm too soft, but I feel this is a GREAT cd. The first track is real addicting....."New Millennium". The second track, "You Not Me", seems to have a kind of commercially sound to it.However, the highlight of the whole CD in my opinion is the beautiful ballad, "Take Away My Pain". Talk about a tear jerker.The last song is a 13 minute epic, "Trial Of Tears", written by the bassist, John Myung.I will admit though, if you have heard any of Dream Theater's other recordings first, such as "Image & Words"....then "Falling Into Infinity" may take a couple of listens to really get use to. This is totally different from what Dream Theater has ever released. Yet, it is still a great recording from these Masterminds of prog-metal.
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on February 7, 2016
While it is true that i have a VERY HARD TIME to chastise the group called DREAM THEATER, there are points upon which i would be able to state possible points of improvement. They do tend to channel themselves very narrowly into a fine narrow line of Hard Rock, that was until i heard this disc and then i found them completely different as far as a band...No they are capable of doing some very fine ballads, and why they dont continue to do that in more of their later discs is well beyond me as a listener and writer of their material. They are a far more capable and distinguished band but simply choose to play the harder material..As for FALLING INTO INFINITY well it simply is a VERY WELL ROUNDED CD, A disc for folks with a want for far more in a CD than straight ahead R&R . It is quite capable of delivering that R&R but it also has the more mellow material which a family man may want...IT rocks in a family way...Spigomars
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on March 2, 2004
I don't know why I didn't see it before. When I bought FALLING INTO INFINITY over a couple of years ago, I enjoyed it but not enough to keep it running in my CD player constantly, the way I did with SCENES FROM A MEMORY, IMAGES & WORDS, and AWAKE. FII was sitting on my record shelf for quite some time, but recently I have re-discovered the album and realize its genius. This is quite possibly the most diverse and tasteful recording Dream Theater has ever done, and considering the constant pressure they were under from their record label Elektra at the time, they defied the odds and still managed to release an album of solid material.
Speaking of diversity, I was just amazed how so many musical styles are on this album. I'm surprised I didn't see it or hear it the first time. You get a little bit of everything of what makes DT great on this album: from the progressive epics ("New Millennium," "Lines in the Sand," "Trial of Tears"), to the ballads ("Hollow Years," "Take Away My Pain," "Anna Lee"), to the crunchy heavy metal ("Peruvian Skies," "Burning My Soul"), to straight-up hard rock ("Just Let Me Breathe," "You Not Me"), and the token instrumental ("Hell's Kitchen"), just about anything you can think of is on here. Not to mention that there are traces of funk during "Lines in the Sand," a Latin-inspired acoustic riff that plays throughout "Hollow Years," and nice use of odd times in "Take Away My Pain" and wind chimes in "Trial of Tears" which are reminiscent of Rush's "Xanadu." You get all of that and a bag of chips.
Some have complained that the lyrics are not as good as on previous albums, but I beg to differ. A lot of the songs are here contain some of the band's best lyrics ever...okay, maybe "You Not Me" and "Burning My Soul" is stretching it a bit, but the rest are all fantastic. John Myung writes some truly deep and meaningful words on "Trial of Tears," James LaBrie's lyrics on "Anna Lee" are really emotional as well, and John Petrucci's lyrics are just as sharp and intelligent as ever on "Lines in the Sand" and "Take Away My Pain." Speaking of Petrucci, his guitar work has never been better. His heart-wrenching solos on "Peruvian Skies" and "Lines in the Sand" are amazing, and he's constantly trying new sounds on almost every track. Not even Kevin Shirley's slightly watered-down production can get rid of the power of his performance.
FALLING INTO INFINITY is the most underrated masterpiece of Dream Theater's catalogue. Even the band, like me, is starting to take notice and respect the album a lot more. Over the past two tours, including the still-going TRAIN OF THOUGHT tour, they brought back some songs from FII that they haven't played in a while. Good for them. It may not have the best production or the best overall theme, but FII can match wits with just about anything in DT's discography.
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on February 10, 2004
Although I've always been a little skeptical about Dream Theater's ability to TKO any other band on the face of the planet within 12 bars of music (a philosophy strictly adhered to by many of their loyal fans), never did I expect the champs of progressive metal to arrive in the latter half of 1997 with this much fat around their waste. To be fair, I'll say up front that there's some truly stellar material on this album. The problem is that the bulk of Dream Theater's bloated new epic is just plain tired- not only are old innovations now cliches, but there is just such little effort put into three quarters of the songwriting on "Falling Into Infinity" that even die-hard fans should be disappointed.
To avoid having this review sound like one big downward spiral, I'll start with FII's strong points. The good news is that a few more classics are added to the Dream Theater canon in "New Millenium" and "Hell's Kitchen". Many may protest the inclusion of the latter, but I feel it's one of the few times the band have achieved a somber emotional vibe without lapsing into syrupy melodrama. Of all the influences John Petrucci attempts to absorb into his repertoire, the Satch-like riffs on "Hell's Kitchen" (among others) are one of the few that don't sound contrived. Other obvious influences that sound little more than derivative are Queen, Styx, Pink Floyd and even Dream Theater themselves ("Burning My Soul" is a total rewrite of "Pull Me Under"). Overall the shorter songs are far more provocative and consistent than the longer titles, a trend which seems at odds with the epic virtuosity the band are famed for. At first glance, seeing "Lines In The Sand" (12 minutes) and Trial Of Tears (13 minutes- a three part suite) on the back cover will be enough to interest fans of "Metropolis" and "A Change Of Seasons". What a disappointment, then, to find that these two songs are possibly the least progressive on the entire album. It seems the band was going for a middle ground between the instrumental sensationalism of their earlier epics and the dead serious emotion of their ballads (which, if you ask me, more often than not have come off as too petulant with a serious lack of irony). There was nothing wrong with this approach, until they decided to use it on their showcase pieces. The simple fact is that Dream Theater lacks the emotional maturity to manipulate the listener's mood over even as large a spectrum as an entire album, let alone a 13 minute song. This emotional immaturity can easily be gleaned by a quick glance through FII's lyric sheet. Most if not all of the songs seem as though they were written from a template; there are a wealth of unimaginative mixed metaphors ("faith don't pay the rent that's overdue"), overfamiliar symbolism ("swept away with the tide/ through the holes in my hands"), primitive rhyme schemes ("it's alright/ it's OK/ it happens every single day"), and just plain nonsense ("where midnight hysteria's no big surprise"). Every line in every song is but a mere shadow of an idea- an aping of genius passed down through hundreds of generations of declining talent.
Many have noted the slightly muffled drums which appear courtesy of new producer Kevin Shirley, but the rest of the instrumentation sounds fine, and the band have only themselves to blame for failing to come up with more than an EP's worth of good material. It's obvious musicianship is Dream Theater's strong suit. It's just a shame the band don't realize it. Instead, they saddle themselves with pretensions they can't hope to fulfill, in the process reducing the songwriting to a virtual catalog of '70s hard rock cliches. I read an interview in which James LaBrie is quoted as saying they plan on being a band that sells a guaranteed two million records with each release (Rush is the apparent benchmark for this figure). That could explain the mass production feel of "Falling Into Infinity", but it doesn't excuse it.
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on February 10, 2004
Although I've always been a little skeptical about Dream Theater's ability to TKO any other band on the face of the planet within 12 bars of music (a philosophy strictly adhered to by many of their loyal fans), never did I expect the champs of progressive metal to arrive in the latter half of 1997 with this much fat around their waste. To be fair, I'll say up front that there's some truly stellar material on this album. The problem is that the bulk of Dream Theater's bloated new epic is just plain tired- not only are old innovations now cliches, but there is just such little effort put into three quarters of the songwriting on "Falling Into Infinity" that even die-hard fans should be disappointed. Before I begin, let me backtrack for a second and say that I've always liked Dream Theater, but have been a little baffled at the absurd lengths the band's most loyal supporters have gone to position them as not one of today's greatest metal bands, but one of the best of all time! I mean, from reading the newsgroups and the scores of web pages devoted to the band, you'd really think we had another Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd on our hands. That statement is going to be unfair to a lot of DT supporters, but unfortunately it's the obsessive fans that are the most vocal, and their overpraising comments have turned many fence-sitters into inflammatory Dream Theater bashers. All of which makes it hard for the average metal fan to get an honest opinion about any of the band's work. For the record, I'd just as soon listen to Fates Warning, so you may take what follows in that context. To avoid having this review sound like one big downward spiral, I'll start with FII's strong points. The good news is that a few more classics are added to the Dream Theater canon in "New Millenium" and "Hell's Kitchen". Many may protest the inclusion of the latter, but I feel it's one of the few times the band have achieved a somber emotional vibe without lapsing into syrupy melodrama. Of all the influences John Petrucci attempts to absorb into his repertoire, the Satch-like riffs on "Hell's Kitchen" (among others) are one of the few that don't sound contrived. Other obvious influences that sound little more than derivative are Queen, Styx, Pink Floyd and even Dream Theater themselves ("Burning My Soul" is a total rewrite of "Pull Me Under"). Overall the shorter songs are far more provocative and consistent than the longer titles, a trend which seems at odds with the epic virtuosity the band are famed for. At first glance, seeing "Lines In The Sand" (12 minutes) and Trial Of Tears (13 minutes- a three part suite) on the back cover will be enough to interest fans of "Metropolis" and "A Change Of Seasons". What a disappointment, then, to find that these two songs are possibly the least progressive on the entire album. It seems the band was going for a middle ground between the instrumental sensationalism of their earlier epics and the dead serious emotion of their ballads (which, if you ask me, more often than not have come off as too petulant with a serious lack of irony). There was nothing wrong with this approach, until they decided to use it on their showcase pieces. The simple fact is that Dream Theater lacks the emotional maturity to manipulate the listener's mood over even as large a spectrum as an entire album, let alone a 13 minute song. This emotional immaturity can easily be gleaned by a quick glance through FII's lyric sheet. Most if not all of the songs seem as though they were written from a template; there are a wealth of unimaginative mixed metaphors ("faith don't pay the rent that's overdue"), overfamiliar symbolism ("swept away with the tide/ through the holes in my hands"), primitive rhyme schemes ("it's alright/ it's OK/ it happens every single day"), and just plain nonsense ("where midnight hysteria's no big surprise"). Every line in every song is but a mere shadow of an idea- an aping of genius passed down through hundreds of generations of declining talent. Many have noted the slightly muffled drums which appear courtesy of new producer Kevin Shirley, but the rest of the instrumentation sounds fine, and the band have only themselves to blame for failing to come up with more than an EP's worth of good material. It's obvious musicianship is Dream Theater's strong suit. It's just a shame the band don't realize it. Instead, they saddle themselves with pretensions they can't hope to fulfill, in the process reducing the songwriting to a virtual catalog of '70s hard rock cliches. I read an interview in which James LaBrie is quoted as saying they plan on being a band that sells a guaranteed two million records with each release (Rush is the apparent benchmark for this figure). That could explain the mass production feel of "Falling Into Infinity", but it doesn't excuse it.
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on January 5, 2004
My first exposure to Dream Theatre was this album. I listened to it, absolutely TRANSFIXED, from start to finish at a listening station in Tower Records when it first came out. Best prog-metal I had heard since late 70's Rush. I bought it on the spot.
But then over time, the excitement wore off as I began to absorb the lyrics. Sorry, but lyrics are an important aspect to my listening experience, and these are dark and depressing. The more I listened to this album, the more depressed I felt. I have since taken a chance with a few other DT albums, with the same reaction.
Don't get me wrong, they are fantastic musicians. I enjoy the Liquid Tension Experiment discs; I enjoy Derek Sherinian's solo stuff; I enjoy anything Mike Portnoy plays drums on, such as Transatlantic and Neal Morse's Testimony. But when these guys get together under the banner of Dream Theatre, I just can't take the negative vibe they put out. So, if you can get past the lyrics, this is one butt-kickin album!
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on December 22, 2003
I'm not sure I understand the bad reputation this album receives from Dream Theater's supposed fans. I've seen several people refer to this as Dream Theater's "sellout" album because, you know, all radio-friendly pop tunes are eight-to-thirteen minutes long and feature extended passages of odd meter. I'm also mystified by those who praise Scenes From a Memory over this. Just because it's overwrought and prententious doesn't make it better. (One reviewer even criticized Falling Into Infinity's lyrics and then praised Scenes, which as far as I'm concerned, was mostly ruined by its contrived-sounding lyrics.) The middle trinity of songs ("Burning My Soul," "Lines in the Sand," and "Hell's Kitchen") is truly where the album's strong point is. It is amazing to hear how Dream Theater has learned to seamlessly blend the disparate parts of their compositions. As far as I'm concerned, it is in many ways on par with Images and Words and Awake, and in some ways, it surpasses them. If there was any change in their sound from Awake to Falling, it was a maturing. It's such a shame Scenes From a Memory didn't live up to this.
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