DREAM THEATER — Falling Into Infinity (review)

DREAM THEATER — Falling Into Infinity album cover Album · 1997 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
1.5/5 ·
Warthur
Infamously, this is the album Dream Theater made whilst James LaBrie's vocal chords were still on the mend after a nasty food poisoning incident, and he still hadn't recovered his full vocal range. Perhaps that's why to my ears the mix of the album seems to be a bit off - there's several patches where the music threatens to overwhelm the vocals, and I can't help but wonder whether this was down to some sort of attempt to disguise parts where James's performance weren't up to his usual standards.

Then again, the band as a whole seem to be a little put off this time around. The other reason this album is infamous is that it came out at a time when they were at loggerheads with their record company, who wanted them to take their music in a more commercial direction and make another Images and Words. It's an old story, of course, and I'm not one to automatically assume the artist is in the right in these cases - after all, sometimes when people have free reign to pursue their artistic vision without any editorial input they produce horrendous crap - but in this case the band seem to have ended up with the worst of both worlds. The material on the album still isn't that commercially viable because they're still tending towards longer tracks which aren't really ideal for radio play, but their musical approach lacks the technical playfulness and inventiveness of previous works.

On top of all that, you have the inclusion of Derek Sherinian, and boy do you know it. I can't blame the man for wanting to make his presence felt on his first (and, it would turn out, sole) full album with the guys and distinguish his playing style from Kevin Moore's, but his keyboards sound to me a bit overwhelming in the mix and his more laid-back style of playing doesn't seem to be a natural fit with the direction the music is going in.

On the whole, then, a troubled album from Dream Theater - the result of a perfect storm of circumstances. If the label hadn't been breathing down their necks, maybe the band could have found more creative ways to incorporate Derek's playing and compensate for James's vocals. If James's vocal chords hadn't been ravaged by illness, perhaps the album would have had a better mix to bring out its finer qualities. If Derek Sherinian hadn't been so keen to use his own distinctive keyboard style on the album, the band wouldn't have had to adjust to that whilst simultaneously angling for a more commercial direction and compensating for James' limited vocal range. In short, if just one of those hurdles hadn't been there, the band might have had the wiggle room to get over the other two, but as it is the three factors in question ended up sabotaging the album completely.
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Diogenes wrote:
more than 2 years ago
"but as it is the three factors in question ended up sabotaging the album completely."

Nailed it. Great review.

more than 2 years ago
I gave it 5 stars and wrote a fanboy-parody review. I stand by the 5 stars though.
UMUR wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I´m not particularly a fan of this album either but I´m pretty sure my rating would be a bit higher than 25% out of a 100%. A review will follow in time :-)

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