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.
on October 14, 2001
This was the turning-the-clock-around album for Dream Theater. Mike Portnoy said that this album nearly killed Dream Theater because the record company wanted them to make a commercial album. I despise it when a record company tells you what to do, but Dream Theater compromised. Part of it you would expect to hear on Images and Words or Awake, and some you would go "HUH?"
1.New Millenium-Very techno-ish intro. This is not a great album-opener, but it's a great song. 4.5/5
2.You Not Me-This is the very commercial "huh?" song. Although it tried to be mainstream, I still liked it. Very short solo, however. 4/5
3.Peruvian Skies-The classics begin. This is a very nice soothing ballad turns rocker song. Intresting lyrics about someone named Vanessa. I think it's about child rebellion. Very good instrumental part. 5/5
4.Hollow Years-One of the best Dream Theater songs recorded. This is a regular pop ballad with Spanish influences. It may sound like every other pop ballad, but at least this one has a solo, and good lyrics. Very nice. 5/5
5.Burning My Soul-Did Dream Theater write that? NO WAY! This is an ultra heavy song. It's like Dream Theater taking a stab at Metallica, and they succeed. Great riff. Also, one of the best solos from Derek Sherenian. It sounds like a guitar! I guess the record swines wanted it to be a single. To the record industry: WAKE UP! No offense or anything to the fans, but do you realize who was popular in 1997? HANSON! Do you really think Burning My Soul would get anywhere? Nope, it sounds good! Can't let that happen! See my point? 5/5
6.Hell's Kitchen-It's ok, they could've done better than this. This sounds like a instrumental climax that should've been left in a 14-minute song. Actually, it was the instrumental part in Burning my Soul, but I guess that they let it out so that Burning My Soul could try to be a single. 3.5/5
7.Lines In The Sand-Pure Dream Theater. This is another 12 minute masterpiece. It has a great intro, probably one of the longest for Dream Theater, and the singer from King's X is in it (I forgot his name). Not a great instrumental part, but it still rocks! 4.5/5
8.Take Away My Pain-Great ballad. The guitar has a Police-vibe to it. Good lyrics. Also, a very soothing chorus. I like the bass in this one. No one gives John Myung credit. He's probably one of the greatest bassisits out there. 4.5/5
9.Just Let Me Breathe-A little dissapointing, but good lyrics. 3/5
10.Anna Lee-Nice ballad about child abuse. Very good piano line. 4.5/5
11.Trail of Tears-The geatest epic on this. Let's do this part by part:
I-It's Raining-Very nice intro, and a good jazz like verse. Intresting lyrics about wasted years. I like the chorus. It's got a good hook to it. 5/5
II-Deep In Heaven-Great solos by John and Derek. John's is more crazy, Derek's is more planned. Very nice. 5/5
III-The Wasteland-Great ending. Where is this Wasteland, might I add? Good guitar riff from John. The ending is very soothing, and it's a great ending to a great album. 5/5
This shouldn't bee your first pick, but it will be the one you'll be familar with. This is good stuff.
on January 10, 2003
This album has gotten a lot of negative response because, apparently, it's their "sellout" album. Well, don't take that too seriously, because aside from a few weaker songs (which are good, but not up to Dream Theater's standards), this album is friggin' amazing. There are definitely some weaker songs though. However, this album is still more than worth buying if you're a Dream Theater fan, because it's awesome!
Well, we obviously know that John Petrucci, John Myung, and Mike Portnoy are incredible musicians. John Petrucci's guitar work here is, IMO, his most tasteful, and easily his least flashy, but possibly his best. John Myung is a talented and humble bass player. On "New Millenium" he uses a Chapman Stick, which shows how diverse and talented he is. Mike's drumming definitely did not stand out here as much as previous albums, or as much as later albums, but it's still obviouse that he's an incredible drummer. James LaBrie has an amazing voice, not much else can be said on that. So, what about the new keyboardist, Derek Sherinian? Well, he's pretty good. Not quite the songwriter Kevin was, and not quite the technical player Jordan is, but hey, if he was hired by Dream Theater, don't you think he must be good? Well, he is.
I suppose I'll start off with the better songs. "New Millennium" is one of their best songs, IMO. John Myung uses a Chapman Stick on this song, and if you don't know what that is, look into it, cuz they're pretty cool. Anyway, this is a great song. It reminds me of "Pull Me Under" or "6:00", being a perfect opener, and a Dream Theater classic. "Peruvian Skies" is a great darker song, that builds up into some spectacular metal riffing and a great solo by John. "Hollow Years" is an amazing ballad. Just a beautiful song. "Hell's Kitchen" is an instrumental, but not the same kind as "Ytse Jam" or "The Dance of Eternity". It's not flashy and technical, it's more soft and beautiful, and John's guitar work is incredibly tasteful. "Lines in the Sand" is an epic song, and a strong one. Not another "Scarred", but it's very pleasing nonetheless. "Take Away My Pain" is another ballad, and another beautiful song. It's dedicated to John's father, who passed away. "Anna Lee" is another ballad, which a lot of people don't like. I think it's an excellent song. Now here's the best part. "Trial of Tears" is probably my favorite song on the album, and also the longest. It starts off slow, and it builds up. It has two incredible solos, one by John Petrucci and one by Derek Sherinian, and then it has a powerful finish. One of their best songs ever.
Now the weaker songs. Well, "You Not Me", while it isn't a terrible song, is definitely not up to DT's standards. It has a pretty cool wah wah riff, but prog. fans will definitely be turned off by this one, especially if they don't like "mainstream" stuff. "Burning My Soul" is almost awful. The music is decent, but the lyrics are pretty bad. Same with "Just Let Me Breath", although that's not nearly as bad. The music in "Just Let Me Breath" is killer, but the lyrics have already been said before 100 times, and said better. So, the weaker songs are ok, except for "Burning My Soul", but nothing spectacular.
Anyways, aside from those few bad points, this album is awesome. Even though I don't like it as much as say, "Images & Words" or "Awake, this album is excellent. Highly recommended to fans of Dream Theater.
on August 6, 2002
From what I've read in reviews and in statements by bandmembers themselves, FII seems to be widely regarded as the band's "Black Sheep" release... Personally, I don't understand why it has inspired so much contempt and I certainly don't agree with the sentiment.
To me, Falling Into Infinity proves something that has been mostly lost in their work since... that Dream Theater are very well capable of playing technically complex music while still creating moving and melodic music - and are damn good at it. Every song is not an exercise in playing as many odd time-signatures as they can as quickly as as they can.. simply because they can. There is definite structure, restraint and solid songwriting contained on this CD.
What is very evident on FII is that the songs were written around phrasing, not time signatures. Whether this is by design or by chance, I don't know. But it works. What results is a work of music that flows but remains interesting. I really appreciate and enjoy this kind of writing.
A good example of phrasing over meter is "Losing It" by Rush, on their Signals album. "Losing It", is mostly in 5/8, with bits in 4/4 and a middle part that is in alternating 5/8 and 6/8.. Yet because of the way the music is written and phrased across those meters, it's not "in your face" and the song actually has a lilting feel.. almost like it's swing time.
Another big complaint is that some of the songs are too "soft" or "commercial".. To those who find fault with this I ask.. "So what?" Who, exactly, is to say that a Progressive band can't write a ballad or two? If some of the music on FII is to be considered DT's most commercial or "worst", then I say that it *still* stands head and shoulders above the unoriginal, uninspired and uninteresting drivel out there today. Hey.. does anyone complain that Rush wrote "Tears" or "Different Strings"? I've never heard any gripes.
Though many have complained about them, Songs like Anna Lee and Take Away My Pain are, to me, excellent, emotional and moving songs. No, they're not in 5/16 time or whatever.. but there's some excellent vocal melodies and harmonies layered into those pieces and, all in all, they are very strong pieces. And that, to me, is paramount to playing in odd time.. I don't care how well you play in 7/8, if the resulting music isn't good... the song is ruined. However, a song written in 4/4 (apparently the bane of progressive music) that is well written, phrased, constructed and layered can be an incredibly moving piece of music. I believe Dream Theater has proven this on FII and, additionally, that they are well capable of pulling it off.
All in all, I think FII is an excellent album, with some strong song-writing that runs the gamut - from heavy and grinding, to grooving, to melodic and a hundred points in-between - and stands firmly in all respects. I give FII a solid 5 stars.
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.
on February 10, 2001
Mike Portnoy says that the recording of Falling Into Infinity almost broke the band up. Pressures from their record company to make a commercially appealing album were teeming here, evidenced by some very commercial rock songs and some standard ballads. In interviews, the band expresses considerable displeasure with their work here, with only a few songs ("Lines in the Sand", "New Millennium", and "Just Let Me Breathe") making the band members happy.
I can see why the band regards this album contemptuously. There was obviously a lot of interpersonal strain between the band and their label. At the same time, it's strange: even though the band was clearly being burdened, they churned out a great record. Granted, it's not my favorite DT release; it's notably more commercial, the production isn't so hot, and LaBrie's singing seems to be lacking some energy. Still, I enjoy it, and there's some truly great moments that are easily among the best they've ever done.
The three epics are probably the best offerings here. First, we have "New Millennium", an energetic progressive rock piece with some weirdly cheesy lyrics. "Lines in the Sand", is a phenomenal 12 minute piece that feels extremely short. Petrucci's evocative and metaphorically rich lyrics shine here, as does his incredible slow tempo solo in the song's middle section. The album closer, "Trial of Tears", is thoroughly excellent. It's lyrically introspective though very straightforward, but musically it's highly engaging. Particularly excellent is the stunning instrumental section in the middle. Derek Sherinian's best contribution to the band is here in the form of an incredible keyboard solo that moves me every time I hear it.
The shorter tracks show more of a dichotomy of quality. "You Not Me" is an awfully generic rock song. The original version of the song (available on the "Hollow Years" CD single) is much, much better. (Desmond Child came in and messed with the original.) Still, I think that the song could have done well on radio. The band would have sold quite a few additional albums if this had been a single release. The chorus' melody is catchy and the lyrics have a good hook or two. The next song, "Peruvian Skies" compensates for that lapse of mediocrity. It has a Black-era Metallica feel, starting slow, then upping the tempo and rocking through the remainder of the track. "Hollow Years" is a pretty ballad with classical guitar (hooray!), if slightly repetitive lyrically. "Burning My Soul" is a tad insipid, with embarrassing lyrics and uninteresting mid-tempo metal. The stunning instrumental "Hell's Kitchen" serves as more than a lengthy segue into "Lines in the Sand". It's slow and beautiful, with grandiosity surging with the ending. "Take Away My Pain" is a good, emotional ballad, but I think the production weighs it down (cuz it's a great live song). "Just Let Me Breathe" is a rocker with catchy riffs, but the lyrics are dumb and and it's too long. The best part about it is Sherinian's keyboard solo. Good live song, though. Few people seem to enjoy the ballad "Anna Lee", but I like it a lot. It's a touching song about child abuse, with a beautiful chorus and a fine main piano melody.
I don't enjoy FII as much as I used to, because the songs have more energy live. The album almost feels tired, as if the band was bored while recording it. That missing energy is captured in the live setting though. Still, I regard FII as an fine release from progressive metal's reigning band. But who knows...maybe I'm just more forgiving than other people. All I know is that everyone in Dream Theater is a tremendously gifted musician, and despite the difficulties they made a fine album with Falling Into Infinity.
on October 7, 2003
Of all the albums in Dream Theater's catalog, Falling into Infinity is probably the most criticized. A lot of the band's hardcore fans feel that it is overly commercial. This album is certainly a bit more commercial then their other releases, but it still is the hard progressive rock that we've come to expect from Dream Theater. There are a bunch of ballads on the album, but I don't see that as much of a problem. Hollow Years and Take Away The Pain are both very nice songs, even if they are rather commercial by Dream Theater's standards. No serious fan of the band should pass this album up. It's a great album with some of their best songs. This is the only full-length studio album that the band did with keyboardist Derek Sherinian. He was never really given the spotlight as Kevin Moore or Jordan Rudess were, so you can expect a more guitar-heavy sound to this one. Lines In The Sand is the best song on here. It's a really different song for DT, but it works very well. Doug Pinnick from King's X contributes some great backing vocals to top it off. Other good songs are New Millennium and Peruvian Skies, but all the songs are listenable. The instrumental, Hell's Kitchen, is also excellent, as it really shows guitarist John Petrucci's versatile talents. Overall, I really like this album. It's not the band's best, but it has some tremendous songs that shouldn't be missed. Fans should definitely check it out. It may take a few listens to get used to the different kind of sound that they have on this album, but it will be worth it when you learn to appreciate it. There's nothing wrong with a band exploring in new directions, especially with a band as talented as Dream Theater. All of their studio work shows why these guys are some of the most talented musicians on the planet, and this album is no exception.
on June 18, 2008
...and they are probably my favirote band. Its hard for me to enjoy this album as much as their other's. I'm more into the Scenes from a Memory/Train of Thought type album's, as well as the earlier ones.
This album was definatelly a departure for the band in that it takes a much more rockish feel. Most of it is slow to mid-paced and Portney is probably represented in his most conservative form on this album than any of the other DT albums. The physical sound of the album itself, the mix, is very much in a straightforward rock format. Gone is the reverb of arena band's, as is the more sharp prog/fusion sound, particularly in Mike's drumkit. The vocal melodies are also very Poppy on this album. All around it just feels stifled to me, for Dream Theater anyhow.
If your used to the classic excellence in every word, riff, and beat, I'm not saying its not here, but I feel it's dealt out in a much more conservative fashion. My favirote part of Dt, as is probably with most of you, is the anticipated guitar/keyboard/drumkit flashdance in the middle of most of DT's songs. I relish every incredibley forward thinking note they toss about in these moments and this album just doesn't have enough of them IMHO.
For any DT fan this is, of course, required listening, but if your the casual fan who is into the more heavy material then you might do fine just totally bypassing this mediocre showing.
on March 6, 2003
It amazes me when people want a band to keep putting out the same stuff every album. For those who criticized DT on this album, maybe you had better rediscover the band that you profess to love. DT has always been diverse. No two songs sound alike. Awake is considered one of their heaviest albums, yet they have some beautiful, "toned down" tunes like "Space-Dye Vest", "The Silent Man", and "Lifting Shadows Off a Dream". Falling Into Infinity is no different. You have truly great heavy tunes like "Just Let Me Breathe", "Burning My Soul", and Peruvian Skies". Then there are songs that truly give DT their prog feel, like "New Millenium", "Lines in the Sand", and "Trial of Tears"( in my humble opinion, the best song on the entire album. ) Just when you think that things can't get any more diverse, they give you "Anna Lee" and "Take Away My Pain". This album only reinforces my belief that Dream Theater are some of the most talented, diverse musicians in the world. If fans keep expecting every album to sound like Awake or Images and Words, they better prepare for disappointment. You never know what to expect from the greatest band in the world( along with Symphony X ).
I hope the Dream Theater continue to keep their true fans on their toes.
on February 6, 2000
Dream Theater are renowened for there unbeleivable musical ability. With there explosive and sometimes heavy playing, intertwining into a frenzy of complex songs. This album takes a somewhat different route. Instead they have gone for the mainstream approach, mixing typical AOR with Progressive Metal elements. Some of which works extremely well. Highlights on the album have to be the gorgeous 'Hollow Years', the headbanging 'Peruvian Skies', the Funky 'Lines in the Sand' and the electric 'New Millenium'. Unfortunatley the album didn't break them into the mainstream limelight as obviosly intended. Although this is probably just as well as they should stick to what there best at - Progressive Metal. Although its most definatly an Album I keep going back to, other DT fans may not agree. Mixed feelings on this Album but still a solid and respectable effort.