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Dream Theater - Falling Into Infinity: Demos 1996-1997 [Official Bootleg] CD (album) cover


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4 stars As Mike Portnoy tells in the linear notes for this YtseJam record release: this is Falling Into Infinity as the band originally envisioned it. And I love it.

I am one of the people who could mildly tolerate the commercial release of FII, with it's few stand-out titles including Hell's Kitchen and New Millennium, but for the most part I found the unfortunately highly-edited and main-stream tracks to be utter trash (compared to the rest of DT's work).

Enter the demos.

Upon my first listen-through, I was dumbfounded. The album in all its original glory is just... beautiful. While New Millennium, Trial of Tears, and to a lesser extent Peruvian Skies and Anna Lee, are more-or-less the same as in the commercial release (all of which I considered to be amongst the better tracks on that release of FII anyway), all of the other tracks from the commercial FII are... different. And SO much better. They are all so much more faithful to the Dream Theater style; Burning My Soul, one of my most disliked tracks on the commercial FII, has shot up to one of my all-time favorites with the orgasmic integration of what became the Hell's Kitchen into the song as the main melody and the lack of that strange and annoying robot voice distortion. Lines in the Sand, similarly, has those bizarre and totally out-of-place funk-rock-esque back-up vocals scaled back to just normal singing by LaBrie (which sounds FAR better in my opinion), as well as what I feel is a much stronger overall sound as opposed to the highly edited commercial version of the song. We also get to hear You or Me before it became You not Me at the hands of Desmond Child, which again I find to be just much stronger in it's originally conceived form. Take Away My Pain manages to rank up there with the other great ballads from this album now as well without the strangely inappropriate calypso melody and with many of the original, much stronger lyrics. The same story applies to most of the other songs: they're just better.

Amongst other things the demos also offer a plethora of other songs that weren't released on FII, such as the excellent Raise the Knife and The Way It Used To Be, to the enjoyable Rock'n'Roll feel of Cover My Eyes, to the mediocre (but thankfully ONLY track on the entire set of demos which I feel to be a disappointment) Speak To Me.

Of course, the demos also contain a live-rehearsal version of the original Metropolis Pt.2 epic, which while a little underwhelming, I still found to be a nice, and most definitely insightful listen. It lacks any vocals at all, because the song was scrapped by the producer before the lyrics were written, leaving a lot of the song feeling kind of empty in places where it was obvious vocals were supposed to be added. The song starts with the powerful overture that became Overture 1928 on Scenes From A Memory, but for the most part the most gripping and cohesive sections are recognizable as having been passed onto tracks in SFAM. The middle of the track seems to become a bit "lost", losing that Metropolis riff and overall "feel", and just generally sounding almost more like a jam like you'd expect from a Liquid Tension Experiment instrumental, but, dare I say, less technical. That aside, Mp.2 is still a nice listen, if you can ignore the fact that a lot of it doesn't really sound like a Metropolis-based track.

I cannot recommend this release any more to fellow Dream Theater fans (YtseJammers! :D)! It is such a shame that the demos are only available through the YtseJam Records site, because in full honesty, I find the demos to be superior to the commercial FII in every way (minus the lack of Hell's Kitchen) - to the extent that I have just written a mini-essay on the them (700 words and counting!). The music quality is virtually regular album quality, so no qualms there. I'm even considering trying to start a movement to get these demos a regular commercial release simply because of how much better they are than FII (in which case surely it would be preferably for DT to promote the demos, not the original commercial release!?).

Buy it. Now.

Report this review (#146713)
Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars How much can a label influence the final outcome of a product? I thought the only thing the label had done to brake Falling Into Infinity's development was rushing things. I can't say I loved FII at the time, but surely I can say I was very much alright with it because it contained a real gem like Trial of Tears, and what I consider the highest point ever reached by Dream Theater, which is Hell's Kitchen. When Score came out I could get to listen to Raise the Knife, one of the leftovers from FII, which left me impressed, and wondering why on Earth Dream Theater didn't include this beautiful suite in Falling Into Infinity. So I looked more into it, realized the story behind it, and wondered if we would ever get to listen to the original version of the release, the way Dream Theater have conceived it in the first place. And the day came.

This record opens up with a bang, with that Raise the Knife off Score, which left me so interested; I'd like to underline how perfect the performance was in the RCH show, this song was performed with no flaws compared to this demo version, taking it off the ending result was pretty much a crime. Where are you now hits thereafter: this song is pretty nice, and it comes as a quite pleasant surprise, with a nice little solo too. Then comes Take Away My Pain, starting off with LaBrie. The song has a definitely different feel (Additional lyrics) and the solo is extremely passionate. In this version you can see how strongly Petrucci conveys his emotional charge into this track, trying to make it sound as good as best as he can, likely nailing it. You Or Me is a shocker. Different chorus, and instrumental part... Desmond Child literally slaughtered this song, comparing both the beginning concept and the final outcome. Anna Lee is pretty much the same as the record version, but Burning my soul definitely isn't. Beginning with hell's kitchen patterns, more lyrical works, no computer voice, and a beautiful introduction of what then became Hell's Kitchen within the song. The only bad thing, perhaps, is a bad scream attempt or whatever by Labrie closing off the song, but this doesn't take too much away from the minutes that come before. The way it used to be is another very pleasant surprise, along with the energetic Cover your eyes, and Speak to me, which appears perhaps catchier, but still a very nice piece of music, with a very vague Space-Dye Vest (one of my fav songs bt DT) feel in the vocal performance. As for the other songs, the main variations are Lines in the sand with no backing vocals belonging to people that aren't LaBrie (which is good considering the song), and Hollow years with extended lyrics. Not to mention what then became Metropolis Part II: Scenes from a memory, with parts which then went into The Dance of Eternity and Overture 1928 (and all the album, after all, since Ov.1928 covers basically all the songs). The central part sounded brand new to me, and pretty good as well. With vocals this would have seriosuly become a killer epic a-la Change Of Season.

Considerations. 1. If this album came out as it was supposed to, we would not have had Scenes from a memory at all. But we would have had a wonderful epic and no one knows what in SFAM's place. 2. Derek Sherinian took most of the blame for no reason, since he contributed to one of the two universally recognized masterpieces of Dream Theater SFAM, he was often appointed as a scapegoat for FII with no real fault. 3. This version of FII will surely force everyone who thought it was a bad album to have second considerations. 4. If, like me, these days you happen to pass by a Dream Theater concert, see if you can manage to get a hold of this brilliant version, it's worth it: until you've listened to this one, you can't say you've ever listened to Falling Into Infinity.

Report this review (#147502)
Posted Saturday, October 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is way better than the comercial album... and you will find many interesting moments in this album... recomended for every DT fan... is surely a must have...!!!

I start saying that I really enjoy the Falling Into Infinity album... sure is not Dream Theater but is great and over the standard of comercial music. Trail of Tears, New Millenium, Hell's Kitchen and Lines in the Sand are really good and I can't complain about it... Long, interesting, touching... it has everything that you could like... but the rest of the album sound more like an alternative band... just regular stuff...

After hearing all these demos... well, I cannot comprehend how they chop all that good songs. I don't know how you make a contract with a prog band and then try to push it to a comercial way... Is kind of stupid... but well... You will find the original pieces here... without external pression... as the way DT works in the last ten years... I have to say, maybe Sherinian wasn't meant for the band, he's not trying to break every wall around down, he makes a nice work but he can scaped from the Shadow of the great Kevin Moore, so you notice that he play nice, but really isn't that good. Rudess still hides behind of his giantic solos but well... that's a different case...

Sure there are more comercial songs, that maybe could work better than the selected tracks on the album... so put attention to these work 'cause is the Falling into Infinity that everybody wishes... jejeje... I still enjoy it... but after hearing these one... is a shame the amount of pression a label could put on a creative band...

You'll enjoy it... for sure...!!!

Report this review (#233038)
Posted Thursday, August 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Potential...

With demos like these, 'Falling Into Infinity' had the potential to be the greatest Dream Theater album. Sadly, the castrated label-influenced final version simply does not share the glory of it's demos. Dream Theater had been sitting on the fence waiting to record this album for three years, and in this time, they had developed enough songs to fill up two discs! However, the label rejected the idea of releasing a double disc album, and the group had to pick and choose which songs to put on the record.

With this official bootleg release, fans could at long last hear the songs as they were meant to be heard. This is without a doubt the best of these releases, because of all the alternate and unreleased songs. All of the tracks from the album are on here, in their original demo form. Some of them aren't very different at all, e.g. Just Let Me Breathe, Peruvian Skies, Trial of Tears and New Millenium. It's interesting to note how similar the instrumentals are in these cases, as it shows just how much care Dream Theater take in writing them. Instrumentals like Deep In Heaven which sound like improvisation on the commercial release, actually sound exactly the same in the demos, proving that there is nothing improvised about them.

Some have subtle differences, like alternate lyrics, or an extra verse or bridge section, e.g. Anna Lee, Hollow Years, and Lines In The Sand. Whilst these versions are interesting, the final outcome seems to be better, as the verses seem out of place.

The remaining songs are radically different to the commercial version, these being Take Away My Pain, Burning My Soul and You Or Me. Take Away My Pain has a harder rock feel to it, making the song sound really intense, rather than mediocre, as it does on the album. Burning My Soul is transformed into a fully-fledged prog rock song, incorporating the Hell's Kitchen instrumental into it. There is also a really complex heavy introduction that makes the song more exciting to listen to. You Or Me is the original version of You Not Me. The main difference here is the chorus, which is extremely different from and far superior to the album version. There is also an extended, fully realised funky instrumental. Each of these tracks sound far better on the album.

The unreleased songs are fantastic too. Raise The Knife is a long proggy track with a complex structure, and an amazing instrumental, featuring one of Petrucci's best guitar solos. Where Are You Now? has a cheesy introduction but gets better as the song goes on. The Way It Used To Be is quite an odd track, and probably best that they kept it off the record, but still fun nonetheless. Cover My Eyes is an odd DT track, as there is nothing progressive about it at all, abd instead just sounds like a normal rock song. Speak To Me is a well paced track, with a brilliant chorus section and guitar solo. I have a real soft spot for it.

The strangest thing on the disc is the infamous Metropolis: Pt 2, a 20-minute track that would complete the Metropolis suite in about the same time that Hemispheres completes the Cygnus X-1 suite. While there is 20 minutes of seemingly brilliant prog music here, it is obviously lacking lyrics, and without lyrics this is a very confusing piece of music indeed. Unfortunately, the original idea was never developed beyond this stage, and was instead adapted and expanded to form the next studio album. Most of Overture 1928, The Dance Of Eternity and One Last Time can be heard, which is a boon for any keen Dream Theater fan. As interesting and as complex as this 20 minute track is, I don't think it holds up by itself. Lyrics would make it far more listenable.

If you're keen on Dream Theater, and want to know more about their history, this is definitely the place to start. This compilation will help you appreciate the oft-underrated album that is Falling Into Infinity. You might even find yourself replacing the studio versions of FII songs on your iPod with these versions! I absolutely love this compilation, and had Falling Into Infinity sounded like this, I would have given it 5 stars.

Report this review (#473996)
Posted Saturday, July 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Falling into Infinity is one of the weakest Dream Theater albums for me, so when I found out about this demos official bootleg version of the same album I just thought there was absolutley no reason to get it. I mean, why would I want the demos of some of DT's weakest songs? Well, then I read some reviews about it and it was praised by many people, so I got kind of curious and ended up getting it, and indeed, it was so much better. The reason, when DT were making this album, they didn't pretend to release it as it was actually released, that came about because of the pressures of the record company, so some songs ended up with some edits and mixes and changes that wouldn't benefit them.

Now, about the songs I actually liked from the official release, most of them are as a matter of fact a tiny bit better on that one, because here they are just a bit rougher on the edges; not a big change really, and I enjoy either versions anyway. This songs for are "New Millenium", which is one of the few songs that deserves to be called "prog metal" in this album, and "Trial of Tears", which is a great progressive song, but has just about no metal in it. I also like very much "Peruvian Skies", which is mostly a metal song with very little progressive element in it (and I believe the inteded "metal single" or "metal hit" for this album, which I would find a little bit weak compared to other such songs in their discography), now, I must say this song I liked just a bit better on this demo version, because that roughness actually works better for me than the way it was fianally released (perhaps because it is a heavier song). Another song that I liked on the original album was "Hell's Kitchen", wich I'm afraid to say is missing from this demos album... though I must say this actually worked for the better, which I'll explain later. Now, the reason I find the demos album so much better than the official one are a few of the weaker songs which happen to be really brilliant on this previous versions. This would be mainly "You or me", which was the original version for "You not me" and which happens to be so much better... which might be a bit odd, for it is basically the same song, but it is just kind of heavier and rougher and that makes all the difference. The other song is "Burning my Soul", which I found rather annoying on the original album, and here it is really enjoyable; once again, mainly because it is kind of heavier, and doesn't have such overpocessed vocals that ruined the final version. Plus the original version of this song was longer, and it has the instrumental segment "Hell's Kitchen" as part of it, which makes it much more prgressive and kind of completes the song (and this is the reason I said that this demos album was actually better for not having that song, because I find it better here as part of this other song, as it was originally intended before the record company butchered it).

And, besides this songs that were "fixed" with the release of this version of the album, there are a few other songs that didn't make it to the final album which I find rather pleasing. Mainly "The Way it used to be", which is a rather pop song with some prog elements and just about no metal at all, but is still very nice. "Cover My Eyes", which is just a short metal song with no prog elements whatsoever, but which might just as well worked as a single for the album (and just don't understand why it didn't make it). And last "Speak to me", which is a ballad which I found so much better than any of the ballads that actually made it to the final album.

However, not all of the album is fixed with this versions, and there are still many songs which I just don't find interesting, such as "Just let me Breath" (being a metal song), or some ballads like "Hollow Years", "Take Away my Pain", and "Anna Lee"... and on this new release I may actually add "Where are you now".

Unfortunatley, theres a pair of purely Prog Metal songs on this album that I just don't get, even though they are among the favourites of some other reviewers. One is "Raise the Knife", which just doesn't make much for me, and which is another of the songs that had been left out on the final album, the other is "Lines in the Sand", which I find to be the most annoying song in this album, and one of the most annoying ones on their discography, mainly because the vocals are very hard to bear, specially the chourus parts which I just can't stand.

In the end anyone who might not have liked the official album very much may do well giving this demos version a chance, and for people who haven't bought either yet, it might just as well be a better option to get this one instead, and get what the band actually wanted to release. For me, this album is a 4 stars instead of 3 I gave the final one.

Report this review (#985583)
Posted Tuesday, June 25, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars 'Falling Into Infinity Demos 1996-1997' is the fifth instalment of Dream Theater's demo series line of official bootlegs. There're two important factors here that make this arguably one of the better releases of demo albums. Firstly, the wealth of material on hand, including five unreleased tracks that never made it onto the album, as well as a 20-minute instrumental demo that features plenty of moments that would be expanded upon, and eventually become the bands next and most highly revered album, 'Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory'.

The second important factor, and certainly an interesting one, is that 'Falling Into Infinity' was an album plagued by record label interference, and while the finished product isn't quite what the band would have desired, this gives fans a chance to hear the songs how they were originally intended to sound.

Of course, by now, I've grown accustomed to the 'Falling Into Infinity' album (I, for one, really enjoy it), so listening to the demos is cool for a die-hard fan such as myself, but I'm still happy to listen to the finished product instead. The unreleased tracks are all pretty decent, especially 'Raise the Knife' and 'Speak to Me', but they all sound unfinished. No doubt they'd have been polished up had they made the final cut, but I guess these will have to do.

Overall however, this isn't something I'd feel inclined to listen to. I'd much rather stick with the original studio album. There're plenty of differences and nuances to pick up upon though, and it's intriguing to see how many changes were made to these tracks over time. But that's about it. Perhaps sometimes record label interference isn't such a bad thing afterall?

Report this review (#2110250)
Posted Saturday, December 22, 2018 | Review Permalink

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