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Dream Theater

Falling Into Infinity

Review by Gary Hill

There are those who feel that Dream Theater is not a progressive rock band. However, this album contains many factors indigenous to progressive rock. Among these factors are odd rhythmic meters, musical virtuosity, complex arrangements, and long musical forms. Therefore, I am including this album in the progressive rock section of the newsletter. Dream Theater, at one time, were rather derivative of many of the progressive bands that had come before, most notably, Rush and Yes. By this point in their career, the band have emerged with a rather unique sound. Although there are some minor influences apparent here and there, this sound is genuinely Dream Theater. This album is one of those that get better with each repeated listening. Although I still do not find it on an equal level with some of their earlier albums; this is a very interesting and enjoyable effort. Dream Theater is James LaBrie, John Myung, John Petrucci, Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian. Doug Pinnick of King`s X lends backing vocals to one of the tracks on the album.

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Track by Track Review
New Millenium
New Millenium starts with a riff which is somewhat reminiscent of Yes, then drops into a really nice bass groove. This tune sort of alternates between that bass groove section and some eastern sounding stylings. Lyrically, it seems to relate the wishes that the new millenium will bring changes from some of the negative points of our world. "It`s well overdue, and I can`t wait to, Welcome in a new millenium". The instrumental break to this piece is somewhat Rush influenced, and contains some unusual timing. This is quite a strong tune.
You Not Me
You Not Me is the first single from the album, and is fairly bass driven, and definitely a high energy song. The hook to this song is quite infectious, while still having integrity. The song seems to relate a person trying to break free of another`s control over their life. "It`s all about you not me, It`s all about the things, That you`re expecting me to be". When someone thinks "single", the idea of a weak, watered-down song comes to mind. That description does not apply to this piece.
Peruvian Skies
This number is essentially a ballad, but contains some very metallic sections. In fact, it is quite reminiscent of Metallica in places, and the last sections of this song are very hard rocking moments.
Hollow Years
Another ballad, Hollow Years begins with a pretty, and moody section containing some nice, jazzy acoustic guitar work. This tune contains a very pleasing acoustic guitar solo, and some very beautiful piano in the climax.
Burning My Soul
Containing some keys that sound much like Jon Lord at times, this is a strong hard rock piece. Burning my soul is quite heavily bass driven and has a nice feel to it, and very strong vocals. This track also contains some excellent double bass drum work. There are some very interesting sounds in the instrumental break.
Hell's Kitchen
The intro to this instrumental is a little reminiscent of Red era King Crimson. This number has an almost fusionish feel in places, seeming a little Satrianiish at times. Although it does contain some entertaining changes, Hell`s Kitchen is essentially a textural piece, and seems to pick up energy as it progresses. The latter section of this piece is just a little reminiscent of Kansas, and provides a seamless segue into Lines in the Sand.
Lines in the Sand
This 12 minute 5 second track starts with some keyboard work rather in the style of Vangelis, circa Jon & Vangelis` short stories. The piece gradually starts building with some interesting riff work, before settling into a nice groove. There is an almost funky feel to this song in places, and it eventually drops into a nice laid back section. Towards the end of the track, the energy climbs again.
Take Away My Pain
The music to this one, although fitting the end of the song, seems way too upbeat for the early portions of the lyrics. Lyrically this song is about the pain of coming to grips with the loss of loved ones, and, in fact is dedicated to the songwriter`s late father. Take away my pain is not one of the stronger songs on the album.
Just Let Me Breathe
Starting in an almost Pink Floydish mode, the song quickly turns to more standard Dream Theater territory. This is an energetic number with a rather intriguing arrangement. The instrumental break is very engaging. Just Let Me Breathe certainly contains some quirky instrumental work toward the end of the song. This tune is a stab at the corporate music scene. "The big machines take care of you, until you kill yourself, and then the sales go through the roof".
Anna Lee
This is a very pretty song, containing some nice piano work. This one is quite Elton John influenced with some definite Beatlesisms present. This is a delightful ballad, which contains some very pretty piano work at the end.
Trial of Tears
I-It`s Raining
Starting just a bit like Rush`s Xanadu, some later parts of the song has an almost Queensryche Empire era feel to them. This one contains some nice sounding keyboard work.
II-Deep In Heaven
This instrumental section has a jazz like feel to it, and contains an interesting rhythm section.
III-The Wasteland
Sort of a reprise of the It`s Raining section, this contains some good keyboard work and serves as a nice conclusion to both the song and the album.
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