Review Summary: My autistically in-depth history lesson on Dream Theater's most un-Dream Theater-like album
A much needed explanation is in order, and here we also have a complete perfection over many of the originals, if only for the production. Falling into Infinity was the fourth studio album by then-underground metal-ists Dream Theater. Upon release, the anticipation of the album caused turmoil within the fan base as the sound had completely changed. Dream Theater’s entire image had already been changed to the fans that were upset from Kevin Moore’s departure. Because Kevin’s Space-Dye Vest of moodiness was no longer a part of the band, their record producers pushed the genre to contain a mainstream sound; the result was a disappointing turn of an album with too many ballads and not enough progressive feeling. The band hadn't actually wanted this to happen, people began to think that Dream Theater had lost their touch of metal and was swaying to attract the conventional radio listeners. The entire band was in disdain, Mike Portnoy had been depressed from the pressure of the record producers and had considered disbanding Dream Theater altogether. It’s a positive and a negative, because around this time Dream Theater actually had 2 epics up their sleeve. The first, a Change of Seasons had desperately needed to be released, and the record company allowed it upon the band’s demands. The second was actually the prequel to what would become Scenes from a Memory.
Ever since 1997 the band had a coarse blueprint of what Metropolis Pt. 2 would be, and it is the featured highlight of this double disc demo. Really this entire album is a gem. It not only contains the Falling into Infinity sessions, it also surrounds all of the material they wrote from Awake to Metropolis Pt.2. After Moore left, the band had 2 gaps to fill, the keyboardist position, and a huge portion of the songwriting. Kevin Moore created much of their original hits along with the only real ballad material that Dream Theater actually had. Space-Dye Vest, Surrounded, Wait for Sleep, 6:00 and the hits Lie and Pull Me Under were from Moore. When it came down to the time to make their next album, Dream Theater scrambled to fix it with their new keyboardist at their side, Derek Sherinian of KISS and Alice Cooper fame. Dream Theater wrote over 2 ½ hours of material and it is all showcased on here, including the 21 minute instrumental of what would become Scenes from a Memory. The record producers were disgusted at the long lengths of some of their songs and felt the public would not be able to digest the material, so they denied Dream Theater the ability to put it and another song on Infinity.
About the beta version of Scenes of a Memory: It is a complete instrumental, the drum tracks aren’t as advanced as the final counterpart, but the majority of melodies are actually in full, so it is only proof that they weren’t created by Rudess. Whether not it is true, it could remain in speculation that Sherinian helped create what would become Scenes from a Memory, although some of the material of the demo was obviously deleted and it seems to be the keyboard parts. It’s quite refreshing though, and there isn’t a barrage of overdone solos like in the final output of “Beyond This Life”. This prequel version contains what would become Overture 1928, Strange Deja-Vu, a very, (and I mean very) uneven and unnatural version of The Dance of Eternity. There are small pieces of Home around the middle of the song, like an aura of the Indian influence. Then the song spirals back into what could be either Beyond this Life or The Dance of Eternity and eventually it gets to that spirit lifting guitar solo from One Last Time. Then the demo finishes with what would have been the original ending of the masterpiece, which is shockingly the short One Last Time with an added aggravation driven guitar line that eventually fades out. Its definitely worth having.
The other epic was the obscure 11 minute track “Raise the Knife” and wasn’t released in full until played on the live album Score. Other new tracks to these demos are offkey alternative rock “Where are you now?”, the lovely “Cover My Eyes”, the sad and moody cry of “Speak to Me” and the radio worthy epic called “The Way it Used to Be”. The demo versions of all the songs are just as you would expect from the word demo, unproduced, raw, and mistakes are still present. This is a plus in this case though because the songs arent hard to play to begin with and the substance is uncut, the songs are all at their true full length. The heavy Burning My Soul track reveals that Hell’s Kitchen was originally the instrumental puzzle piece to it. Anna Lee is much nicer, and truer to the previous Dream Theater sound. LaBries voice actually doesn’t sound bad, and the final album makes him come off sounding horribly aided with software, or at least to me.
You Not Me was probably the biggest odd ball of Falling Into Infinity. The song didn’t sound like Dream Theater at all, and was as if the band had been replaced with disbanded Puddle of Mudd members. Maybe good for that year, but the song wasn’t meant to be. On this demo, the song is instead titled “You Or Me” and is a huge shock when compared to the other. The chorus is completely different, and gives the song a new feel. It has a unedited piano piece near the solo that is plainly luxurious. Whats even better than that, is the demo of Lines in the Sand is complete perfection over the original. It starts off less compulsory, Doug Pinnicks overdubbed vocals are not present (just the way it should be) and the keyboards and melodies are superior to the crap they allowed on the final. The guitar has the same notes but exposes so much more epic sensations, and largely the song is everything it was meant to be. LaBries vocals are outstanding. Mike Portnoy was right when he rectified the album "These demos show our true artistic representation of these songs." The final studio release is plagued by corny keyboards that Derek had way over-amplified and the choruses and drum fills filled the songs with the noise forced and aberrant.
The overall feel of Falling into Infinity is still pressured the same on the demos, and is just as the original. The vocals are much lower, the intense climaxes of the songs are no where to be found and the melodies were stripped down. However, the songs are unedited and full on these demos; the instrumental breakdowns are still in full piece here and are actually a wonderful side of Dream Theater to hear. The largest protesters of Dream Theater complain of the way the band members show off their talent and don’t write actual music, but this album they actually hold themselves back from that and create some good melodic material. It just makes me wonder why the producers didn’t make it a double album. From the high analysis, the album contains the same disappointments as the studio album, but with several pleasurable spots and great material from deleted songs. And of course we cant forget the demo of Scenes from a Memory.
The album is available off of Mike Portnoy’s Ytse Jam records website as an official bootleg and is an offkey pleasure that many people would enjoy, fan or not. I will take this demo over the final studio release almost any day.
Lines in the Sand
Raise the Knife
Cover My Eyes
Trial of Tears