I don’t know why I didn’t see it before. When I bought FALLING INTO INFINITY over a couple of years ago, I enjoyed it but not enough to keep it running in my CD player constantly, the way I did with SCENES FROM A MEMORY, IMAGES & WORDS, and AWAKE. FII was sitting on my record shelf for quite some time, but recently I have re-discovered the album and realize its genius. This is quite possibly the most diverse and tasteful recording Dream Theater has ever done, and considering the constant pressure they were under from their record label Elektra at the time, they defied the odds and still managed to release an album of solid material.Speaking of diversity, I was just amazed how so many musical styles are on this album. I’m surprised I didn’t see it or hear it the first time. You get a little bit of everything of what makes DT great on this album: from the progressive epics (“New Millennium,” “Lines in the Sand,” “Trial of Tears”), to the ballads (“Hollow Years,” “Take Away My Pain,” “Anna Lee”), to the crunchy heavy metal (“Peruvian Skies,” “Burning My Soul”), to straight-up hard rock (“Just Let Me Breathe,” “You Not Me”), and the token instrumental (“Hell’s Kitchen”), just about anything you can think of is on here. Not to mention that there are traces of funk during “Lines in the Sand,” a Latin-inspired acoustic riff that plays throughout “Hollow Years,” and nice use of odd times in “Take Away My Pain” and wind chimes in “Trial of Tears” which are reminiscent of Rush’s “Xanadu.” You get all of that and a bag of chips.Some have complained that the lyrics are not as good as on previous albums, but I beg to differ. A lot of the songs are here contain some of the band’s best lyrics ever…okay, maybe “You Not Me” and “Burning My Soul” is stretching it a bit, but the rest are all fantastic. John Myung writes some truly deep and meaningful words on “Trial of Tears,” James LaBrie’s lyrics on “Anna Lee” are really emotional as well, and John Petrucci’s lyrics are just as sharp and intelligent as ever on “Lines in the Sand” and “Take Away My Pain.” Speaking of Petrucci, his guitar work has never been better. His heart-wrenching solos on “Peruvian Skies” and “Lines in the Sand” are amazing, and he’s constantly trying new sounds on almost every track. Not even Kevin Shirley’s slightly watered-down production can get rid of the power of his performance.FALLING INTO INFINITY is the most underrated masterpiece of Dream Theater’s catalogue. Even the band, like me, is starting to take notice and respect the album a lot more. Over the past two tours, including the still-going TRAIN OF THOUGHT tour, they brought back some songs from FII that they haven’t played in a while. Good for them. It may not have the best production or the best overall theme, but FII can match wits with just about anything in DT’s discography.