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Dream Theater - Falling Into Infinity CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.32 | 1452 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars This album is not remotely perfect, but it's one of the most lasting releases the band has done, to my ears.

I've been a fan off and on (mostly on, really) of Dream Theater for plenty of years, so it was interesting to see what albums of theirs rated on this site. A few of them were where I would have put them. Awake and Scenes from a Memory are pretty highly rated. Train of Thought isn't rated very well. That sort of thing. But the low ratings on Falling into Infinity puzzled me for a while. Sure, they've done better. But in the end, I reasoned that it was due to the masses of disgruntled metal fans who wanted more Awake, more Change of Seasons, rather than something tasteful and atmospheric. Compared to other Dream Theater albums, this one has some great strengths: on the whole, the violent noodling is downplayed, the songs work with themselves nicely, there are fewer parts of songs that are just randomly thrown in there and don't fit, the keyboards push from the back rather than drag from the front like the rest of the instruments. Sure, there are downsides, too: a few songs are weak poppy tunes, James's voice is at what is probably its lowest point in his Dream Theater career, the lyrics on several of the songs are just plain bad (not too different from normal, though), and half the songs for the album were forced to be cut out. The presence of Derek Sherinian adds a lot of flavor and removes a lot of speed from the keyboards--I am glad he got to record an album with the band.

Falling into Infinity opens with New Millenium, something of a more standard track from the band, except John Myung is tapping away on a Chapman stick and the band has toned down their eight minute solo sections into (gasp) no solos at all. On an eight and a half minute Dream Theater song? No solos? Get used to it. The solos are saved for when they add to the songs here, which is nice. The record continues with You Not Me, one of the weaker songs in their catalog. It's not awful, just below average. A bit much angst in James's vocals, I find. Peruvian Skies follows that with some beautiful guitar and sad lyrics, flying off into a more metal vein about halfway through. It's a good rocker, though not built around Dream Theater's usual highly progressive and complicated riffing. Hollow Years is a gentle pop tune (again, with sad lyrics). In fact, I find it important to note that the album, while featuring some of the band's worst lyrics, also has some of their best.

Burning My Soul falls into the first category there. Angsty, obnoxious lyrics fly over a standard hard rock/metal tune. The voice box effects are nice, though, and something the band hadn't tried before. On the tails of that song is Hell's Kitchen, the first truly amazing song here. An instrumental, this isn't one big solo fest as you would expect. Rather, though it does feature a ripping guitar solo, it is more based around the band. Ending on an epic chord progression and a big note, the sounds suddenly become Lines in the Sand. This is possibly one of the best songs Dream Theater ever wrote, though the serious fans of metal might tell you differently. Atmosphere and ambiance, something almost completely absent from the rest of the band's catalog, not only fill this song but drive it. Petrucci plays what many consider his best and most tasteful solo in the center here. The lyrics, too, are absolutely top of the line as far as Dream Theater goes. Take Away My Pain jumps in next, a Hollow Years sort of sad poppish tune. Not upbeat. Just sad. All these sad songs do add a unique vibe to this album.

Next comes the silly, angsty rocker Just Let Me Breathe. The music is fun, but the vocals and lyrics are a fair bit ridiculous. Derek's pet song Anna Lee follows that again with the haunting and sad music, being possibly one of the most beautiful songs that any progressive metal band ever wrote. The piano is just wonderful and emotive. Lastly, comes the album's epic, Trial of Tears, with some pretty cool lyrics from Myung. James sounds great here, and the band ties some great atmosphere into their music. Unfortunately, this is the song on the album that features a random instrumental section that doesn't fit. Oh well. At least Derek and John got their chances to really rip into some soloing bits, which is nice, because the two didn't get many chances to write back to back solos. The album then closes with the return of the beginning of the song, and many Dream Theater fans sit back and wonder what side project all the members of Dream Theater just labeled their own band's release.

Falling into Infinity is probably the most mature Dream Theater release to date, with a good bit of beautifully melodic and ambient keyboards. The solos are mostly tasteful, and some of the lyrics great. This is, in my opinion, one of their top three releases, though it seems many do not agree. If you want to listen to the band but aren't into excessive noodling or you want some sonic depth, check this one out.

LiquidEternity | 4/5 |


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