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Dream Theater - Falling Into Infinity CD (album) cover

FALLING INTO INFINITY

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.33 | 1094 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the first Dream Theater album that didn't get instant love from all the band's long time fans. After Images and Words, praised everywhere as the new face of progressive-metal, and Awake, the flawed yet praised attempt by DT at a more metallic sound, this release was a new approach attempted by DT: simpler, yet still prog songs. Many fans disliked it because of its supposed "poppy" numbers.... but others read between the lines and saw what truly lies beneath the "easy" sound: another progressive-metal masterpiece, less pyrotechnical, but full of great music nevertheless.

One of the main concerns of DT's fans was the departure of founding member and key- man extraordinaire Kevin Moore, whose "Space Dye Vest" turned out to be his swan song as part of DT. To replace him the 4 remaining members appointed Derek Sherinian, a well-recognized performer with experience in a lot of different genres (from Kiss to Billy Idol to Alice Cooper). So Falling Into Infinity was to be his first full-fledged DT album; yes, he recorded the 23-minute masterpiece A change of Seasons with the band, but that song's skeleton was already created; FII was going to be his real DEBUT with DT from a creative point of view.

The results are there for everyone to judge. For me, this album ranks high among DT's 8 opuses, somewhere in 4th place after Scenes from a Memory, Images and Words and Awake, but higher than sub-par releases like Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence or Train of Thought. Here, even though the level of complexity was toned down a little, the level of musicality, the level of beauty didn't suffer a bit. If it's true that we won't find a lot of mind-dazzling virtuosic passages in this album, what we'll find for sure is LOTS AND LOTS of beautiful melodies, perfectly-crafted song structures, soul-lifting solos and, in something that actually comes as an improvement over its predecessor, Awake, James LaBrie's singing is back home: flawless modulation, perfect note-singing, the best for melodic passages. Gone, and that's good, are those weird (to say the least) high- shrieks that the canadian master trademarked in Awake. And Sherinian? An excellent debut (and good-bye, sadly) by the synthsmith, his style is less piano-driven and more atmospheric, spacey than that of Moore. He relies on pure neffects and pedals a lot more than old Kevin used to, but it's all for the good.

New Millennium (7/10) To tell the truth, this song doesn't start the album in the best possible manner: a long, sometimes confusing number; some Rush-like lines in pure prog-metal fashion but without the focus and the melodies that DT are capable of.

You Not Me (8/10), the "radio-friendly" track in the album; a short, very straight forward song with a decent main riff and a very catchy chorus. Not a gem, but entertaining.

Peruvian Skies (9/10), as you can see, the album continues to get better. This song starts very quietly, with Portnoy playing at the lowest volume he's capable of; halfway down the track a beautiful Petrucci solo leads us to a crescendo that takes us to a really hard-rocking part. The melody factor in this song makes it a shining moment.

Hollow Years (8/10),a beautiful acoustic ballad with marvelous singing by LaBrie; if it doesn't get at least a 9 is only because it's too "sweet" for a metal album... but for a prog-metal album, is very good. Burning My Soul (8/10), a strong, powerful song. The main riff is metal at its most metal (?), with double-bass drumming pounding like two gigantic pistons making the rock engine roar with anger. Good chorus, decent solos, if somewhat too "metallic".

Hell's Kitchen (10/10), this is where the album starts to reach DREAM THEATER level: a short yet BEAUTIFUL instrumental, very simple in essence; it starts spacey and acoustic, drums come in a drive the rhythm towards a full band crescendo, a MARVELOUS bass-guitar-keyboards-drums fill combination playing descending scales (yes, all together) gives signal we're approaching the finish line, but what lies after that...well, is just...

Lines in the Sand (11/10), again, forgive me my exaggeration, but with my all-time favorite tracks I suffer with "hyperbolizationitis".... This track is not only the best song in this album, but one of the best in all of DT's CAREER. From the intro with the simple drum fills, to the main riff with Portnoy playing wizard with the hi-hat, to the chorus with King's X's Doug Pinninck as guest vocals, to the AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL guitar solo, to the jazzy stop-and-go's at the end, well, this track oozes "Dream Theaterness"... is great, great, GREAT.

Take Away My Pain (5/10) as if trying to play with me, as if trying to provoke me to bash my head against a wall, or maybe because after such an incredible song it's mandatory to include a forgettable moment, this track is just AWFUL. Yes, it's not Under-a-Glass-Prison-awful (that is, it's not a metallica-meets-numetal rip-off), but it's poor-and-weak-ballad-awful. Not even with drums (just percussion) that would have added some energy, this song brings me back to earth after the out-of-earth-voyage that was Lines in the Sand...This song tells me "we're a bunch of humans after all, we can write crap, too". And man can they do it!

Just Let Me Breathe (6/10), just the mention somewhere in the song of MTV makes me want to tremble... A hard-rocking song with no memorable parts, an uninspired number, a metal-fest, nothing else.

Anna Lee (8/10) , you can call me poppy here but actually I prefer this LaBrie track than the noise that preceded it. It's just piano and LaBrie, a la Wait for Sleep. Piano and La Brie in melodic mode means Piano and another beautiful instrument together, and it is true to this song. Nothing spectacular, but very rewarding for it's soul-lifting melody.

Trial of Tears (10/10) Just when the album appeared to be getting nowhere, the last song suddenly brings us back to Dream Theater realm. The ilussion of rain with just ride and crash cymbals and toms is very well accomplished here by Portnoy. Sherinian shiones in this very melodic track, with an outstanding chorus, great soloing and, again, inspired playing by axe-high-priest Petrucci. A perfect ending to an imperfect album.

So in the end what we have is a great collection of songs with a couple of disasters thrown in for balance (Take Away, Just let me). But when good, this album portrays DT at their BEST. Yes: the inspired moments (Hell's Kitchen, Lines in the Sand, Trial of Tears) have NOTHING to ask to earlier anthems like METROPOLIS in terms of quality. I agree, maybe the "how-can-they-play-that" factor, maybe the "man are they octopusses!" factor isn't so evident as in I&W or Awake, (or SFAM), but the MUSICAL factor, the MELODIC factor, the SONG factor, the "I WANT TO LISTEN TO IT AGAIN" factor is so present and so alive, this album earns 4 starts with no problem. And, to be honest, if it was for me, I'd give Falling Into Infinty a 5th star, because I still love this more than a lot of other records I own... But to keep with the spirit of PA and its rating system, let's say it's a 4: an excellent addition to your prog collection.

Recommended for: every DT fan, every fan of well-crafted prog-metal with MELODY, MUSICIANSHIP, any person with taste for GOOD SONGS.

Not recomended for: square-minded metallers that like their metal to be played at 100 mph and don't care for melody... and also not recommended for fans of Dream Theater's logo: the one in the cover is just awful (not that it matters or that I care, but I had to made up a reason not to recommend this to anyone).

The T | 4/5 |

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